The Indianapolis Colts sacked the quarterback Sunday in hopes of saving their season.
They got to Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill a season-high six times, including on fourth down at the Colts’ 5 in the final minute to preserve an 18-12 road victory at Sun Life Stadium.
Because the Houston Texans (8-7) also won, the Colts (7-8) had to await the results of later games to determine if they still had a mathematical chance at a playoff berth in the season’s final week. The tiebreaker in question would be strength of victory. The Texans secure that tiebreaker if the Bengals beat the Broncos Monday night. If the Broncos win, then the Colts need to win again, the Texans must lose, then the results of five other games must go the Colts' way.
The Colts knew they would be eliminated if they lost and the Texans won, and the visitors were in a precarious position in the final minutes as the Dolphins gained a first down at the Colts’ 5 with 40 seconds remaining.
After three Tannehill incomplete passes, the Dolphins’ offensive line had an obvious miscommunication on fourth down. The ball was snapped, but the other four blockers didn’t move. Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis sped in to tackle Tannehill for his second sack of the game and 118th of his career.
Tannehill has been sacked 44 times this season.
The Colts snapped a three-game losing streak while the Dolphins (5-10) lost for the fifth time in six games.
The Colts lost quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to injury for a fourth consecutive game with a shoulder injury in the second quarter. Charlie Whitehurst entered and the Colts managed only one field goal in the second half.
But it was enough because their 28th-ranked defense stopped the Dolphins when it mattered.
Tannehill completed 26-of-38 passes for 329 yards, but had a touchdown pass negated by a questionable offensive pass interference penalty and threw an early end-zone interception.
Colts running back Frank Gore, returning home, scored two touchdowns in the first half as the Colts led 15-6 at halftime. The Colts had managed just two offensive touchdowns in three previous games. Gore finished with 85 rushing yards on 15 carries.
The Colts conclude the regular season at home against the Tennessee Titans (3-12), who lost 34-6 at home to the Texans Sunday. The Texans host the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.