Cutler silences boos with late TD as Dolphins beat Titans
By STEVEN WINE
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) Adam Gase stubbornly stuck with Jay Cutler until his quarterback finally silenced the boobirds.
Cutler drew jeers while struggling through much of the Miami Dolphins' 2017 home debut, but his fourth-quarter touchdown pass helped them overcome another dismal offensive showing Sunday to beat the Tennessee Titans 16-10.
The crowd chanted repeatedly for backup quarterback Matt Moore before Cutler finally got Miami going with a 58-yard drive capped by his 6-yard touchdown pass to Jarvis Landry for the tiebreaking score.
Gase noted the crowd also lobbied unsuccessfully for Moore during a victory over Tennessee last year, when Ryan Tannehill was the struggling starter.
"That's fine," Gase said. "I'll make the decision about the quarterback. We're not going to take public polls."
Cutler - playing his first game in Miami as the Dolphins' QB - acknowledged he heard the chants too.
"I didn't know what they were saying, and I don't think anyone was going to tell me what they were saying," Cutler said. "I just kept going about my business."
Despite an offense that has scored three touchdowns in four games, the Dolphins (2-2) climbed to .500. The Titans (2-3) lost for the second week in a row.
Tennessee played without quarterback Marcus Mariota, who was inactive because of a left hamstring injury suffered a week ago. Replacement Matt Cassel went 21 for 32 for 141 yards and was sacked six times.
Cutler went 12 for 26 for just 92 yards, but Gase said his QB wasn't the problem.
"If guys would do their jobs - catch the ball, block the right guys, give the quarterback a chance to do something ..." Gase said. "Jay is way down the list of things going wrong."
The Dolphins came in ranked last in the NFL in points and yards per game, and struggled against a Titans team that allowed 57 points against Houston a week ago.
Miami's only TD in the first three periods was scored by safety Reshad Jones on a 38-yard fumble return when the other players on both teams apparently thought the play had ended with an incomplete pass. The Titans didn't chase Jones, and the officials didn't initially signal a score.
The Dolphins won despite totaling just 178 yards. They tried the wildcat in the second quarter, and even that flopped - tight end MarQueis Gray took the snap, faked a handoff and threw incomplete.
Tennessee's DeMarco Murray managed only 58 yards rushing. Jones recovered Murray's fumble to set up an early Miami field goal, and a fumble by Jay Ajayi led to the Titans' first score on a field goal.
Tennessee totaled 188 yards and went 2 for 13 on third down.
Cassel's best moment came when he drove the Titans 69 yards for a tying touchdown to start the second half. Backup tight end Phillip Supernaw caught an 11-yard pass for his first career touchdown.
"Matt managed the offense well," coach Mike Mularkey said. "There are some throws I know he'd like to have back. There are some throws that I'd like to see our guys make plays for him."
Mularkey said Mariota wasn't close to being able to play, and his status remains day to day.
Jones kept playing after everyone else stopped to give the Dolphins their first touchdown.
Cassel fumbled with his arm cocked when hit by Kiko Alonso, and the ball squirted forward 14 yards. Jones scooped up the ball and ran uncontested to the end zone.
Referee Bill Vinovich eventually announced that the loose ball was a fumble and Miami had scored. Following a replay review, the call was upheld, giving the Dolphins a 10-0 lead.
"We all, as an offensive line, heard a whistle," Titans tackle Taylor Lewan said. "We all stopped, and I ended up getting hit late. That ball should have come back."
Titans: Lewan hurt his knee in the first quarter, later returned but watched the second half from the sideline. "I think it's a very minor, small thing," he said. "I don't think it should be an issue in the future, and I'll be fine for next week."
Dolphins: at Atlanta next Sunday.
Titans: at home Monday, Oct. 16 against AFC South rival Indianapolis.
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Updated October 8, 2017