DAVIE, Fla. (AP) -- Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill was ruled out of Sunday's playoff game at Pittsburgh before practice Thursday, and backup Matt Moore will start for the fourth week in a row.
The Dolphins determined Tannehill isn't ready to return from a sprained left knee he suffered in Week 14. Moore, a 10th-year pro, is 2-1 as Tannehill's replacement and will make his first career postseason start.
"He knows he's our relief pitcher," offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said. "We try to make the decision early in the week, because it's hard to get two guys prepared. He assumed he was doing it. He has continued to prepare as a starter."
Moore has eight touchdown passes, three interceptions and a quarterback rating of 105.6, which is higher than Tannehill's career-best 93.5 this year.
"He's been in the league for more time than Tannehill, so he's got more experience," Steelers cornerback Ross Cockrell said. "For us on the back end, whether it's Matt Moore, whether it's Tannehill, it doesn't make a difference for our preparation. Our job is still to stop the run, create turnovers and put pressure on the quarterback."
Tannehill hadn't missed a game in five NFL seasons until he was sidelined against the Arizona Cardinals. He has never played in the postseason, and the playoff game will be Miami's first since 2008.
|© (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, right, watches as quarterback Matt Moore (8) throws a pass during NFL football practice, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017 in Davie, Fla.|
Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill will miss wild-card playoff game against Steelers
Ryan Tannehill’s return from a knee injury isn’t happening this week.
The Miami Dolphins’ starting quarterback won’t play in Sunday’s wild-card playoff game at Pittsburgh, a person with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the Dolphins hadn’t announced anything on Tannehill, who injured a knee in a Dec. 11 win over the Arizona Cardinals.
Veteran backup Matt Moore will make another start against the Steelers.
Matt Moore to start this week, barring drastic change
Ryan Tannehill has a chance to play on his injured knee, but he has to practice first.
That's been coach Adam Gase's stance on the matter. On Wednesday, though, Tannehill did not practice. Hours later, Gase told reporters that "unless something changes drastically," veteran backup Matt Moore will start in the Dolphins' Wild Card game against the Steelers on Sunday.
Gase told reporters on a conference call with Pittsburgh media that the staff would decide later Wednesday if Tannehill will practice Thursday, per NFL Network's Aditi Kinkhabwala. Gase added that even if the quarterback can only practice for one day before the contest, he'll get the start, because Tannehill knows the offense better than anyone else, Kinkhabwala added.
The biggest issue with Tannehill's knee is how it affects his escapability, because his ability to move around is a big component of his game and without it, "it's not really an option" to play him, Kinkhabwala reported.
Evidently, that escapability wasn't up to par for Gase, who went from cautiously optimistic on Tannehill to all but ruling his participation out.
Tannehill is undoubtedly Miami's best option, and shook off a slow start to the season to lead the Dolphins to a 10-6 finish and a playoff berth. Tannehill's comfort with the offense grew as the campaign progressed, but Gase is correct in that his ability to move in and out of the pocket is important to Miami's success. The Dolphins gain chunks with shorter passes to Jarvis Landry, but this is no short-range offense, especially with the emergence of second-year wideout DeVante Parker, who has become a deep threat.
In order for the Dolphins' offense to play at its peak, it needs a Tannehill who can move. The idea of a hobbled Tannehill attempting to gut it out reminds us of an injured Philip Rivers trying to do something similar against New England in the 2007 AFC Championship Game, and we know how that turned out. Gase likely doesn't want to risk a similar outcome, instead turning to the veteran Moore, who has been serviceable in place of Tannehill, completing 55 of 87 attempts for 721 yards, eight touchdowns and three interception in three starts (appearing in four games total).