Down the hall, in a quiet room, the magic kid of football was telling how he botched the decisions. How he blew the game and cost the Colts the day. He promised to do better next time. He pointed at his chest.
"Not my best day,'' Colts quarterback Andrew Luck said.
Here, in the back of the Dolphins locker room, Ryan Tannehill was putting good thoughts together in the way he did good passes in the 24-20 win. The best one was the one he started with.
"We showed we are a team,'' he said.
This was everything you wanted to see as a Dolphins fan, right down to Tannehill out-dueling Luck, your promising kid quarterback outplaying their great kid quarterback.
The season began to breathe a little Sunday. It wasn't so much the Dolphins won. They won the opener in Cleveland and didn't answer anything. They also won the first two on the road in 2010, and were the 7-9 team they became.
So it was more than the win. It was the differences that said this team could turn into something. There was cornerback Brent Grimes making the game-tilting interception in the fourth quarter this defense hasn't made in recent years.
There was Mike Wallace making nine catches for 115 yards and demonstrating the gear the Dolphins haven't had. There were young players showing development—from tight end Charles Clay (five catches, 109 yards) to cornerback Nolan Carroll to rookie Dion Jordan (if he'd learn to wrap up the quarterback).
"I haven't been in a game that nerve-wracking," Dolphins receiver Brian Hartline said.
"We keep saying, 'Hey we could be a great team,' but until you go out and beat a decent team like this, it was all talk and hoopla,'' he said. "We had to win a game like this to be the team we think we can be."
That idea gets underlined with Tannehill. If he is going to take a big stride forward, if he is going to be the quarterback this franchise needs, he had to go out and win a game like he did.
He had to lead his team, which he did. He had to outplay Luck. He did that too. Tannehill completed 23 of 34 passes for 319 yards a touchdown and a heady 107.4 quarterback rating.
Beyond the nice throws, beyond the good numbers, Tannehill didn't make the one mistake. Luck did by being intercepted in the end zone by Grimes. Sometimes it's as simple as that in comparing quarterbacks.
"I forced the throw there,'' Luck said. "Good coverage by [Grimes]. We knew coming in he was a phenomenal corner."
Luck said he should have thrown to the underneath receivers on shorter routes, he said. They were open. It's the same mistake he kicked himself after the final drive, too.
"Get 5 yards, get in second-and-five instead of ending up second-and-10, third-and-10,'' he said. "I don't think I managed that particularly well."
Those are the kind of mistakes Tannehill made a year ago. No doubt he'll make them again the way every quarterback does. His big mistakes on Sunday seemed not to be stepping up in the pocket early on and taking a couple sacks.
But the Colts had a big rush on him all day, as their five sacks showed. And he still didn't make the big mistake. He still got Wallace for a touchdown, threw a laser to Clay for 67 yards and got a field goal out of the final seconds of the first half.
"I'm more comfortable [than last year],'' he said. "It's as simple as that. Just really comfortable in the offense, comfortable with being at the line of scrimmage and finding things early and the guys around me are making plays."
The most precious commodity in football is a star quarterback. Dolphins fans don't need to be told that. The last, lost decade has told them that much. Sunday doesn't mean Tannehill is Luck. But you liked what you saw again. You liked how he played again.
Coming down the elevator after the game, one Hall of Famer to another, TV analyst Dan Fouts said to Bob Griese, "This is going to be fun watching Tannehill and Luck play each other for the next 10 years."
That's told what Sunday was like. Tannehill and Luck were in the same sentence. On a day full of progress for the Dolphins, that's the biggest one.