The Dolphin Report

By Ron Poltorack

FINS WIN BEHIND THEIR MVP (Most Valuable Punter)

Thanks to a most impressive performance by Punter Brandon Fields the Fins won at the New Meadowlands Stadium where the only thing uglier than the weather was the miserable performance by QB Chad Henne and the Fins’ offense.  The hero of the day, Fields punted 10 times, consistently taking the Fins’ out of a hole and changing field position, which was so crucial given the poor weather conditions.  The only football Brandon Fields didn’t boom on Sunday was the well-deserved game ball he was given by Coach Tony Sparano in the victorious locker room.

For the second week in a row, QB Chad Henne (who seems intent on proving that he is not the Fins’ QB of the future) played like he wanted to follow in the footsteps of Pat White, who was cut during training camp.  It’s hard to imagine an NFL QB going an entire game without having more completions that sacks, but that was exactly the case on Sunday.  Looking like a deer in the headlights, Henne was sacked 5 times while completing only 5 passes for a meager 55 yards.  He also coughed up the ball twice on fumbles.  It was a truly miserable day for Henne, going 5 of 18 (27.7%).  The lone bright spot was a 6-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall which came after the Fins’ recovered a Mark Sanchez fumble at the Jets’ 26 yard line.  The running game was also disheartening as Ronnie Brown (55 yards) and Ricky Williams (34 yards) each managed only 3.4-yards per attempt. 

With the offense performing so poorly, it was a good thing the defense played so well.    They held the Jets to 6 of 21 on third downs and 0 of 3 on fourth downs.  They shut the door on the Jets running game (2.8-yard average), forcing Mark Sanchez to the air 44 times.  Those 44 attempts were only good for 17 completions and 216 yards.  One of those incompletions was pure luck as Santonio Holmes let a sure touchdown pass fall between his hands when he was left alone in the end zone.  That drop forced the Jets to settle for a field goal and literally handed the Fins their 4-point win.  

The Fins’ offense was really inept after the first quarter when they managed their 10 points on the day, all of which coming off of Jets’ turnovers.  In their 12 possessions (disregarding their final possession when all they had to do was to take a knee) spanning the last 3 quarters, the Fins ended 3 of those possessions with fumbles and punted to end their other 9 possessions.  The Fins had 6 net yards of offense in the entire second half, with all of that meager yardage came in the third quarter.  That’s right, the Fins zero net yards in the fourth quarter.  Their average gain per play for the game was a horrendous 2.3 and they managed only 6 first downs, 1 of which came by penalty. 

With the defense playing so well, the Fins’ offense squandered one opportunity after the next to put the game away.  If the Fins had any measure of offensive success, this game would have been over long before NFL sack leader Cameron Wake put Mark Sanchez on the ground on a fourth down with the game clock reading 00:47.  But instead Chad Henne gave the Jets every opportunity to stay in the game.  Thankfully, the defense and Brandon Fields consistently bailed him out to preserve their 10-6 win. 

Brandon Fields truly had a career day.  He punted 10 times for 564 yards, all in a driving rain.   He not only had a gross average of an incredible 56.4 yards, but his net average of 49.6 yards was absolutely game-saving, forcing the Jets to start with poor field position time and time again, which is so crucial in bad-weather games.  Whenever the offense threatened to put the defense in a hole, Fields was there to boom the ball downfield.  Thankfully, unlike Nolan Carroll, who took a cheap shot from a Jets’ staff member, Brandon Fields managed to stay away from the Jets’ sideline.  Rex’s thugs surely would have done anything to take him out of this game. 

So the Fins live to see another day, with their playoff hopes barely dangling by the thinnest thread.  For this they have their defense to thank along with their MVP, their Most Valuable Punter, Brandon Fields.

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