Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jakeem Grant returns a kickoff for a 102-yard touchdown against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. Photo courtesy of the Miami Dolphins
MIAMI, Sept. 9 (UPI) -- The Miami Dolphins used a 102-yard kickoff return to beat the Tennessee Titans in the longest game in NFL history on Sunday in Miami.
Miami outlasted Tennessee -- and more than four hours in lightning delays -- to earn the 27-20 victory in a bout that lasted seven hours and 10 minutes. Jakeem Grant bottled those bolts of electricity on the fourth quarter return, answering a game-tying drive from the Titans, before the Dolphins added some insurance.
"It was wild," said Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who completed 20-of-28 pass attempts for 230 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in his first start since the 2016 season. "Just coming in the first time, it was kind of up and down night, so it was like 'alright, 30 minutes,' and it was like 'alright, another 30 minutes,' so you're kind of constantly getting ready to go, getting ready to go, sitting back down."
"The second one was even more wild because we were sitting there, told it was probably going to be 7:30, and come in at 6:30 and they say 'you're on the field in 10 minutes.' You can imagine there was a lot of scrambling to get ready to go. Guys had their cleats off, socks off, jerseys, pants - it was get ready to go and go play in 10 minutes. It was wild, but I'm really proud of our guys the way we responded."
Ryan Succop put the Titans ahead 3-0 with a 47-yard field goal in the first quarter to get the scoring started.
The Dolphins marched down the field with a 12-play, 98-yard drive in the second quarter to take their first lead. Kenny Stills capped off the 5:21 drive with a 10-yard touchdown grab from Tannehill in the front right corner of the end zone. The touchdown toss was Tannehill's first since the 2016 season, due to multiple season-ending injuries over his previous two campaigns.
Neither team could score for the remainder of the second quarter, before first weather delay sent them into the locker rooms about a minute before halftime.
The game didn't resume until nearly two hours later, when the AFC squads came onto the field to close the half. After a brief halftime, lightning struck nearby once again. The second weather delay lasted more than two hours.
Miami increased its lead to 10-3 when the teams eventually returned to the field. Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders did so by making a 27-yard field goal with 4:05 remaining in the third quarter.
The Titans took a drive from the third quarter through the beginning of the fourth frame -- lasting 4:48 and covering 75 yards -- and capped it off with a Dion Lewis touchdown to tie the game at 10-10.
But the Dolphins answered back on Grant's gorgeous gallop.
Stills iced the Dolphins' win when he torched Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler for a 75-yard touchdown from Tannehill with 10:22 remaining, giving Miami a 24-10 advantage.
"We just had a post route on and the corner was sitting outside and used our speed," Stills said. "The line protected and Ryan threw a great ball down the field and I made a play on the field."
The Titans attempted to mount a comeback with a 94-yard touchdown return from Darius Jennings on the ensuing kickoff.
Miami answered with a 30-yard Jason Sanders field goal to increase its lead to 27-17. The Titans' final score was a 53-yard field goal from Succop with 16 seconds remaining. The Dolphins recovered the ensuing onside kick to clinch the victory.
"...We have is to make sure that we find ways to persevere through whatever, play through whatever, whatever situations, whatever weather and in this case, lightning," Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. "That just happens. I thought we handled it well the two times that we had to do it, but in the end, we didn't do enough to win the game. We didn't coach well enough and we didn't play well enough."
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota exited the game early after suffering an arm injury. He completed 11-of-22 passes for 117 yards and an interception in the loss. Dion Lewis paced the Titans' running game with 75 yards and a score on 16 carries. Lewis also had five catches for 35 yards.
Stills had four catches for 106 yards and two scores for the Dolphins. Frank Gore led Dolphins running backs with 61 yards on nine carries in the victory.
The Dolphins face the New York Jets in an AFC East clash at 1 p.m. on Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The Titans have an AFC South matchup against the Houston Texans at 1 p.m. on Sunday at Nissan Stadium in Nashville.