(AP) Tannehill carries Dolphins past Browns 23-10
By TOM WITHERS
AP Sports Writer
With more offensive firepower at his disposal, Miami’s Ryan Tannehill could make huge strides in his second NFL season.
On Sunday, he took the first one.
Tannehill passed for 272 yards and a touchdown, leading the Dolphins to a season-opening 23-10 win Sunday over the Cleveland Browns, who lost their ninth straight opener and fell to 1-14 in Week 1 since 1999.
Tannehill, surrounded by better talent on offense after Miami’s offseason spending splurge, threw a 34-yard TD pass to Brian Hartline in the third quarter and drove the Dolphins to a game-clinching TD in the fourth.
Daniel Thomas had a 1-yard scoring plunge with 6:48 left, putting the Dolphins up by 10 and they turned it over to their defense.
Miami’s Cameron Wake had 2 1/2 sacks and the Dolphins’ defensive line sacked Cleveland quarterback Brandon Weeden six times and hurried him countless more.
Weeden threw three interceptions and the Browns never got anything going in coach Rob Chudzinski’s debut.
By game’s end, FirstEnergy Stadium was nearly empty as Browns fans bailed in the final minutes.
Rookie Caleb Sturgis kicked field goals of 49, 45 and 36 yards for the Dolphins.
Hartline, an Ohio native who had friends and family members at the game, had nine catches for 114 yards. Brandon Gibson added seven catches for 77.
Tannehill went 7-9 as a starter during an up-and-down rookie season, showing the Dolphins enough promise that they wanted to invest more in his future.
The club signed free agent wide receiver Mike Wallace, Gibson and re-signed Hartline to a five-year, $30 million contract.
With Miami leading 13-10, Tannehill took the Dolphins 85 yards to set up Thomas’ TD.
On the drive, Tannehill completed 6 of 7 passes for 78 yards _ none of them to Wallace, who had just one catch for 15 yards.
Tannehill didn’t get any boost from Miami’s running game as the Dolphins were held 20 yards on 23 carries.
For the Browns, this opener was like so many previous ones.
Cleveland hasn’t won a home opener since 2004, and despite some renewed energy with the addition of better players, the Browns haven’t changed.
Weeden finished 26 of 53 for 289 yards and one TD, but he was plagued by several drops and his offensive line was manhandled by Miami’s front four.
Weeden was missing top wide receiver Josh Gordon, who is suspended for the first two games for violating the league’s drug policy.
The Browns also hurt themselves with nine penalties and couldn’t get running back Trent Richardson away from Miami’s tacklers. He had 47 yards on 13 carries, but none in the fourth.
Tannehill hooked up with Hartline in the third quarter to give the Dolphins a 13-7 lead.
Three plays after Browns safety T.J. Ward dropped a possible interception in the end zone, Tannehill waited for Hartline to run a double move and get past cornerback Buster Skrine before hitting his wide receiver in stride down the left sideline.
Weeden and the Browns’ offense overcame a bizarre, ugly first half _ five penalties, three interceptions _ to somehow lead 7-6 at halftime.
With 28 seconds left, Weeden hit a leaping Jordan Cameron in the back of the end zone for Cleveland’s lone TD, a score that gave Browns fans a chance to breath and brought a fist pump from Chudzinski.
Before that, the Browns had hurt themselves with the costly infractions and picks, two of which bounced off the hands of Cleveland’s receivers.
The Browns’ TD was like a trip to the dentist: painful and slow. The Dolphins helped with two defensive penalties, including one by former Browns cornerback Dimitri Patterson, who yanked on the facemask of Davone Bess following a short pass to give Cleveland a first down at the 15.
On the TD pass, Cameron got behind linebacker Philip Wheeler and Weeden put nice touch on his throw to the back corner.
Sturgis kicked field goals of 45 and 49 yards to give the Dolphins a 6-0 lead in the first half.
Miami’s second field goal came after Weeden’s second interception by Patterson.