Tannehill was celebrating his 1-yard touchdown pass with 38 seconds left to rookie Dion Sims, who made a one-handed catch to help the unbeaten Dolphins rally past the Atlanta Falcons 27-23.
The score capped a 13-play, 75-yard drive after Atlanta’s Matt Bryant missed a 35-yard field goal attempt with 4:46 left. Jimmy Wilson intercepted Matt Ryan in Falcons territory to seal the victory.
Miami fell behind 10-0 and 20-10 and trailed much of the game, but nonetheless improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2002. The injury-plagued Falcons, who were one play from the Super Bowl last season, fell to 1-2.
An crowd of 70,660 reflected the buzz building about the surprising Dolphins, who are trying to end a streak of four consecutive losing seasons.
“We’ve got a damned good football team,” owner Stephen Ross said. “The quarterback is maturing.”
The last-minute comeback victory was the first for Miami’s second-year QB. Tannehill finished 24 for 35 for 236 yards and two scores. He shook off two turnovers and five sacks, and was at his best at the end of each half.
On the final drive, Tannehill went 8 for 11 for 69 yards, with two of the incompletions because of dropped passes. The winner came on second down, when Tannehill lobbed his throw over linebacker Stephen Nicholas to Sims, a backup tight end.
Sims scored his first NFL touchdown by pulling the ball in with his left hand because his right arm was tangled up with Nicholas.
The Dolphins lost defensive end Cameron Wake (knee) and linebacker Koa Misi (shoulder) to injuries, but the defense dug in after a slow start. Consecutive possessions by Atlanta in the second half netted a total of 10 yards, allowing the Dolphins to rally.
The Falcons scored on their first three series, and at one point the Dolphins trailed in total yards by 127-3. Atlanta had the ball for nearly 23 minutes in the first half but was up only 13-10 at halftime.
Ryan led drives of 14, 11 and 13 plays on the Falcons’ first three possessions, but twice they stalled and settled for field goals.
“We had a lot of opportunities to finish the game,” Ryan said. “We just didn’t get it done in the red zone. We have to find a way to punch it in.”
Notes: The Dolphins have scored at least 20 points in each game, the first time they’ve done that since 2002. ... Atlanta’s Matt Bosher, leading the league in punting, averaged 33.0 yards on two kicks. ... Osi Umenyiora had his first two sacks for Atlanta. ... Miami rookie Caleb Sturgis kicked field goals of 46 and 50 yards and is 6 for 6 this year.