Matt Moore stood behind center for Miami against Todd Bowles’ Jets on Saturday night at MetLife Stadium, taking over for the injured Ryan Tannehill. But there was a time when Moore stood behind center for Bowles’ Dolphins.
“He did a heck of a job,” Bowles told the Miami-area media during the week. “He threw the ball well down the field. He was a good leader and he competed his butt off. Highly intelligent.”
That was the 2011 season. Tony Sparano had been fired, and Bowles stepped up as the interim coach for the last three games. Moore made 12 starts that season and threw for six touchdowns in those three games. He won two, capped by a victory over the Jets in the finale.
Now here he was starting at quarterback again, his first start since that game and only his 26th in nine seasons with Carolina and Miami. Tannehill had sprained the ACL and MCL in his left knee last Sunday against Arizona. Moore led the Dolphins to a victory in that game and did it again against the Jets, going 12-for-18 for 236 yards and four touchdowns as the Dolphins won, 34-13, to move to 9-5.
Tannehill’s starting streak was over after 77 games, and coach Adam Gase has said he will be out for more than one game. But just as Bowles clearly trusted Moore, the Dolphins clearly trust the 32-year-old interim quarterback while they chase an end to an eight-year run with no playoff passes.
“You know the other guys respect him,” Gase said at a news conference leading up to this game. “Guys know that he knows what he’s doing. There’s no nervousness about him. It’s more, ‘Give me the call and let’s roll.’ ”
Moore stayed as a backup after Tannehill arrived as a No. 1 pick in 2012 and immediately took over. Moore hadn’t tossed a pass in a game this season when he took over after the Cardinals KO’d Tannehill in the third quarter.
His first three drives went nowhere, but Moore threw a 29-yard pass to set up the game-winning field goal on the final drive.
“I was thinking, ‘Man, I haven’t done this in a long time,’ ” Moore told reporters after that game.
After his first two drives went nowhere against the Jets, Moore found Dion Sims for a 1-yard score in the second quarter. Sims was ruled out of bounds, but Gase challenged and won.
Later in the quarter, Moore went long for Kenny Stills and hit him for a go-ahead 52-yard touchdown.
Miami led 13-10 at halftime. Moore added another 1-yard TD pass to Sims and a 66-yarder to Jarvis Landry in the third quarter.
Moore carries a 14-12 record as a starter along with a gunslinger rep.
“That doesn’t bother me one bit,” Gase said. “I want a guy that wants to go out there and be aggressive and try to win the game.”