The Dolphin Report

By Ron Poltorack


It was only a few years ago when Ricky Williams turned his back on the Fins, angering both Dolphins and Dolfans alike. But all is forgotten now as Ricky not only got the Fins back to .500, but he also showed that he’s got their back. With Ronnie Brown on injured reserve, the Fins needed a big performance from Ricky Williams and he came through in a big way. Ricky rushed for 119 yards on 22 carries (5.4 yard average) and scored 3 touchdowns. It was his first career game with touchdowns both rushing (two) and receiving (one). His 2 second quarter touchdowns paved the way for a come-from-behind 14-3 halftime lead. His fourth quarter touchdown put the Dolphins ahead 24-14 with 3:55 left. From there the Panthers (not to mention the Fins’ defense) made it interesting as the game ended 24-17 when a desperation pass into the end zone was batted down by Tyrone Culver.

It was the second time in a row that the Fins’ fate wasn’t decided until the final seconds of the game. Call it their squeak of the week. However, this squeak got the Fins to .500 (for the first time this season). To do so the Fins had to win their second game in just 5 days. And they did it behind a good performance by Chad Henne who is now 5-2 as a starter. With the grounding of the Wildcat due to Ronnie’s absence, Henne may have benefited by being behind center for almost the entire game.

Somehow, the Fins have now turned around their ugly 0-3 start to get back to a push. Somehow in the process, Chad Henne is beginning to show some signs that he may be “the one.” Dolfans can only hope and watch for more good signs. This week Henne went 17 of 29 (58.6%) for 172 yards. This week he did not turn the ball over and for the second consecutive week he did not take any sacks. True, the overall yardage wasn’t great, but neither are his receivers. And even though Ted Ginn had no drops and made some good catches, he still only managed 32 yards on 4 receptions. With his speed he should be getting significant yardage after the catch, but he typically gets none. With his speed he should also be getting more than 32 yards in a game. At least he had a couple of nice kick returns, giving the Fins possession on their own 39 and 45 yard lines, respectively. Davone Bess had a good game, catching 6 passes for 63 yards while getting some key first downs.

One season-long bright spot has been the place kicking of Dan Carpenter. By converting his only field goal attempt of the game, he is now 16 of 17 (94.1%). At this rate, he might end up being the answer to a trivia question as to date he has missed as many field goals this season as he has missed extra points (one each).

The Fins’ defense remains a real enigma in many ways. They got slashed by Carolina running back DeAngelo Williams for 122 yards on 13 carries (a whopping 9.4 yard average), which made it rather puzzling why the Panthers got away from the run in the second half. On the other hand, the Fins’ racked up 4 sacks, all of which coming on third down passing situations. Two of the sacks belonged to Joey Porter, who also led the team with 8 tackles, and may have benefited from the involuntary rest he was given last week by Coach Sparano.

After looking fairly porous on the opening drive, the enigmatic defense managed to force the Panthers to settle for a field goal from the red zone. Then, they shut out Carolina for the balance of the first half. They showed signs of weakening in the third quarter, but were bailed out by a bad pass by Jake Delhomme that was picked off by Nate Jones at the Panthers’ 4-yard line. Then came the fourth quarter when they proceeded to surrender 14 points. Good defenses do not surrender points like that in crunch time, but unfortunately Miami’s defense is 31st in the league in fourth quarter points surrendered. Think back at how this tendency hurt the Fins in the losses to the Colts and the Saints earlier this season. In fact, had they won either of those games, the Fins would need only a win against the Bills next week to set up a battle with the Patriots for first place the following week. But the Fins didn’t win either of those games and now their playoff hopes continue to survive by only a bare thread.

The victory against the Panthers was not without its price, however, and the price this week was more pain. On the heels of losing Ronnie Brown last week, the Fins’ offensive and defensive line got really banged up this week. Starting center Jake Grove went down, and not much later, his back-up Joe Berger also went down. This caused the Fins to do some real shuffling on the o-line. Defensive nose tackle Jason Ferguson was another casualty and he had to be carted off the field after sustaining a knee injury. His loss would be particularly devastating to the run defense. Hopefully, the 10-days leading up to the Buffalo game will give the walking wounded time to recuperate.

Speaking of injuries, the loss of Ronnie may have put the Wildcat on its back, but Ricky certainly proved that he’s got the Fins’ back.

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