DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — Ryan Tannehill threw two of the shortest touchdown passes in NFL history last week.
The Miami Dolphins quarterback ranks third in the league in yards per pass attempt and fourth in quarterback ratings, partly because a pair of throws — traveling less than a yard each — went in the books as completions covering 18 and 74 yards .
In Miami’s comeback victory over the Oakland Raiders, Tannehill made quick flips to wideouts Jakeem Grant and Albert Wilson as they raced past him in the backfield on a jet sweep. Even though the receivers did the bulk of the work with their speed, Tannehill was credited with two touchdown throws and all of the yardage gained.
“Yes,” he said with a laugh. “I’m well aware.”
The execution of the play raised a question: Why does Tannehill flip the ball rather than hand it off?
“That’s just to get those passing yards,” Wilson said, tongue in cheek. “High quarterback rating, extra passing yards.”
But seriously, why would Tannehill, Wilson and Grant prefer pitch-and-catch to a less risky handoff?
“You have to ask them,” said coach Adam Gase, a former quarterbacks coach who doesn’t hide his affection for the forward pass.
According to Gase, he leaves it up to his players whether the exchange is via a short toss.
“I’ve seen it done both ways — they’ve done it that way, and I’ve seen them hand it off,” Gase said. “We had a Wednesday practice and they handed it off, because it was raining. I’m like, ‘Are we tossing this or are we handing it off?’ And he was like, ‘It’s raining. I’m going to hand it off.’
“I’m good with either way, as long as he doesn’t drop it.”
Count on the New England Patriots to be braced for the play when the teams meet Sunday.
But the jet sweep hasn’t been the Dolphins’ only trick. They also scored on a Wilson-to-Grant pass last week.
And while the jet sweeps padded Tannehill’s statistics, his longer throws have been impressive, too. Perhaps the best was his 34-yard strike to Kenny Stills on the run in the corner of the end zone last week.
His completion rate of 73 percent is the highest of his career, as is his average of 9.3 yards per attempt.,
As for the pitches to Wilson and Grant, the exchange isn’t as tricky as it might look, the two wideouts said. They said Tannehill tosses the ball into the path of the receiver, who snatches it without breaking stride.
“Ryan does a great job of timing it up,” Wilson said. “For a receiver, you get receiving yards, and for a quarterback, you get passing yards. So it’s pretty cool.”
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