Jakeem Grant scored on a tiebreaking 102-yard kickoff return with 14 minutes to go, and the Miami Dolphins overcame two weather delays to win the longest game since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger, beating the Tennessee Titans 27-20 Sunday.
Delays for lightning lasted a total of 3 hours, 59 minutes, and the game took 7 hours, 8 minutes to play.
The previous longest game since 1970 was a Bears overtime victory against the Ravens in 2013 that took 5 hours, 16 minutes.
Lightning struck a location just a mile within the stadium, prompting officials to delay the game, according to the
The Miami Dolphins defeated the Tennessee Titans in Miami Gardens, Florida on Sunday in what was the longest game ever since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) gets set to throw as the Titans’ Brian Orakpo gives chase on Sunday
Delays for lightning lasted a total of 3 hours, 59 minutes, and the game took 7 hours, 8 minutes to play. A rainbow is seen above Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday as the Miami area was hit with severe weather
The game was suspended twice – the first time with 1:11 left in the first half and the second delay came with 6:47 left in the third quarter.
The NFL was hoping to end the delays, but lightning strikes continued nearby, forcing officials to keep play suspended longer than was originally hoped.
Most of the fans who purchased tickets for the game preferred to go home and watch the rest of the contest from the comfort of their own homes.
As a courtesy to the fans who stayed, the Dolphins allowed those with tickets for upper level seating to move down to the lower bowl of Hard Rock Stadium.
The NFL was hoping to end the delays, but lightning strikes continued nearby, forcing officials to keep play suspended longer than was originally hoped. The billboard above announced the suspension of play due to lightning
This is the second time during Week 1 of the new NFL season that lightning has caused a delay in the action.
Thursday’s season opener between the Eagles and the Falcons in Philadelphia was also delayed by severe weather.
Kickoff for that game was pushed back about 35 minutes, according to
Grant’s touchdown triggered a late flurry of big plays in a season opener that was lackluster for the first six hours.
After his score, Ryan Tannehill hit Kenny Stills deep for a 75-yard touchdown. Darius Jennings returned the ensuing kickoff 94 yards for a Titans score, and they were driving when Miami’s Reshad Jones helped to clinch the win with a 54-yard return after he intercepted Blaine Gabbert.
‘I love the way we responded – the way we were able to overcome the delays, to come out with energy after sitting around,’ Tannehill said.
‘To come away from this long day, this grind of a game, and get a win, it feels good.’
Titans starting quarterback Marcus Mariota threw two interceptions in the third quarter and then came out of the game with an elbow injury.
Tight end Delanie Walker was carted off the field later in the period with a right leg injury, and tackle Taylor Lewan suffered a concussion, all of which meant a miserable start for Mike Vrabel in his head coaching debut.
Fans wait for the rain to stop during a delay in the action on Sunday in Miami Gardens
Miami led 7-3 when the game was suspended for nearly two hours late in the first half.
The teams went to the locker room during the delay and stayed on the field for halftime, which was shortened to 3½ minutes.
Lightning forced a halt again midway through the third quarter, and the second stoppage lasted just over two hours.
Perhaps 10,000 fans remained at the finish.
‘That’s the job we have – to make sure we play through whatever situation,’ Vrabel said.
‘I felt we handled it well, but in the end we didn’t do enough to win the game.’
Sandwiched between the delays was a brawl that started after Lewan appeared to be briefly knocked out.
Jordan Phillips and Bobby McCain of Miami and Dion Lewis of Tennessee received offsetting unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for taunting, and Lewan missed the rest of the game.
Gabbert drove the Titans 75 yards to make the score 10-10, but Grant needed only 13 seconds to break the tie, splitting the coverage untouched and racing into the clear near midfield.
Most of the fans who purchased tickets for the game preferred to go home and watch the rest of the contest from the comfort of their own homes. As a courtesy to the fans who stayed, the Dolphins allowed those with tickets for upper level seating to move down to the lower bowl
‘I saw it was just him and the kicker,’ Miami coach Adam Gase said.
‘I was going, “Please run by me”.’
Tannehill, playing for the first time since a knee injury in late 2016, went 20 for 28 for 230 yards with two scores and two interceptions.
‘I left a lot out there,’ Tannehill said.
‘There are a lot of plays I wanted to have back.’
The Titans had a first-and-goal at the 5 in the first quarter, but were stopped on downs when Mariota threw incomplete on three consecutive plays.
The Dolphins then drove 98 yards in 12 plays for a touchdown and a 7-3 lead.
On the first play after the second weather delay, Miami’s Kiko Alonso made an interception to set up a field goal and end Mariota’s day.
A holding penalty on Walker negated a 62-yard touchdown run by Derrick Henry that would have tied the game in the fourth quarter.
Dolphins receivers Stills and Albert Wilson knelt during the national anthem, and defensive end Robert Quinn raised his right fist.
They followed the same practice before preseason games.
No Titans appeared to protest.