Sunday’s season opener between the Miami Dolphins and Tennessee Titans started with the slate of early NFL games. By the time it was over more than seven hours later, the late afternoon games were all in the books.
Weather delays twice hampered gameplay in Miami as lightning inundated South Florida. When the game restarted a second time Sunday afternoon, it was four hours behind schedule and already the longest game in NFL history.
A matchup between the Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens in 2013 previously held the distance mantle, going five hours and 16 minutes before Chicago prevailed in the weather-delayed game at Soldier Field.
Dolphins treat fans who stuck around to a show
Thankfully for the Dolphins faithful who stuck around Sunday, they got treated to a show, as Miami prevailed in a 27-20 track meet.
Injuries take toll on Titans
Unfortunately, it was also a game marred by significant injuries. Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota left in the second half with an elbow injury and had to be replaced by Blaine Gabbert.
Titans tight end Delanie Walker had to be carted off the field late in the fourth quarter with a gruesome right leg injury that required an air cast. NFL Network reports that he suffered a dislocated ankle and associated fracture, likely ending his season.
Big plays after weather delays
The game was unremarkable prior to the delays, with both teams living up to their low preseason expectations in a dud of a matchup the Dolphins led 7-3 prior to play restarting for good with 6:47 left in the third quarter.
But the rest apparently rejuvenated playmakers on both sides of the ball. The fourth quarter featured three plays of 75 yards or longer, two of them by the home team.
With the game tied 10-10 early in the fourth quarter, Dolphins kick returner Jakeem Grant fielded a kickoff in end zone and raced up the sideline for a 102-yard touchdown return to give Miami the lead.
UNTOUCHED. 101 YARDS.
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) September 9, 2018
About four minutes later, Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill connected with Kenny Stills on a deep pass for a 75-yard touchdown to extend Miami’s lead to 24-10.
Not to be left out of the party, Tennessee’s Darius Jennings took the ensuing kickoff 94 yards to keep the game within reach at 24-17 with 10:11 left in regulation.
But that was the end of the fireworks as the two teams traded field goals to close the game as Miami secured a season-opening win in front of the home crowd.
Broadcast affected by lightning
The lightning also affected FOX’s broadcast forcing the network to stick with one camera upon the game’s restart out of safety concerns.
It led to camera angles not normally seen in a professional football broadcast.
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) September 9, 2018
It was a strange day for football in South Florida. In the end, the Dolphins faithful who stuck around got their money’s worth.
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