The Dolphin Report

By Ron Poltorack


Give Joey credit, in his return to Detroit he proved to a booing crowd that he can play the game. All he needed to succeed was a team around him that wasn’t the hapless Lions. Except for throwing an interception in the end zone with 3 seconds left in the first half, Joey played an excellent game throwing 3 touchdown passes to lead the Fins to a 27-10 Thanksgiving Day win over the Lions.

Going into the game the big story was Joey’s return to the city he was just about run out of last off-season when he was traded to the Dolphins for a low round draft pick. Joey had spent four miserable years in Detroit where he went from being their potential franchise quarterback after being taken third overall in the 2002 NFL draft to being their scapegoat. Lions’ fans conveniently overlooked the team’s horrid defense and lack of offensive talent and took all of their losing-driven anger out on Joey. His return to Detroit may not have been a “homecoming,” but he certainly appeared to come into his own and, at the same time, he had the last laugh. The demons are now gone.

The game was costly, however, as Ronnie Brown left the game with an injured hand. At that point he had carried 15 times for 68 yards. The ice bag taped to his hand during the second half was ominous. It appears as though he has a badly sprained thumb. This would be a big loss for a team that has managed to put together a 4-game winning streak and has a chance to even out its record against the Jaguars at home on December 3. To his credit, Sammie Morris did a good job filling in, rushing 12 times for 91 yards including a career-high 55-yarder. Travis Minor added 27 yards on 6 carries giving the Dolphins a total of 186 yards rushing for the game.

The defense played well. After surrendering a touchdown and a field goal to the Lions on their first two possessions, the defense settled down and shut them out the rest of the way. Meanwhile, Joey led the Dolphins to 27 unanswered points. The defense stuffed the run (giving up only 21 yards for the game), thereby forcing the Lions into being a one-dimensional team. That enabled the pass rush to get after quarterback Jon Kitna, sacking him 8 times. Zach Thomas, Matt Roth and Vonnie Holliday each got two sacks. Speaking of Zach, he now has 105 tackles on the year marking the 11th season he has gone over 100 tackles. Miami limited Detroit to only 2 of 12 third down conversions which helped Miami to outgain Detroit 395 to 220 for the game.

Joey may have been the story coming into the game because of his Detroit “homecoming,” but in many ways this game showed he can play quarterback in the NFL. True, it was against the hapless Lions, a mere 2-8 coming into the game, but he displayed some of his talents. Joey completed 19 of 29 passes for 213 yards. His quarterback rating for the day was 107.4. He made some nice third-down throws for first downs in the first half when the game was still on the line. He also made some nice throws for two first-half touchdowns when the ball had to be thrown just right. And he did it all with the crowd booing him at every turn and the weight of the last four years upon his shoulders. Give Joey credit. He handled all of the adversity and came out a winner. Maybe the Lions’ fans should have been booing themselves instead of Joey who proved this day that he is no turkey.

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