The Dolphin Report

By Ron Poltorack


In a game between two teams going nowhere, the Fins saw their slim playoff hopes Buffaloed, losing to the Bills 17-14.  It was yet another dismal performance by the offense.  Quite fittingly, the game ended when the Fins’ (again) shot themselves in the foot after they got the ball at their own 20 with 00:41 left on the game clock.  But that’s what happens when you waste 35 of your last 41 seconds on 2 passes which gain a total of 12 yards when you need 45 yards for a meaningful chance at a tying field goal.   

This loss brought the Fins’ home record to 1-6 in this upside-down season where their road record is an amazing 6-1.  If you had told any Fins’ fan going into this season that the team would be 6-1 on the road at this point, they would be making their Super Bowl reservations.  But here the Fins sit at 7-7 and going nowhere thanks to their abysmal performance at home. 

As poorly as the offense played against the Bills, the game still could have been won but for Dan Carpenter having the worst day of his career.  He was 0-4 on field goal attempts and had he made any of those missed kicks, the game would have gone into overtime.  Not only had Carpenter never missed 4 field goals in a game, but he only missed 3 field goals in all of 2009 (and only 4 in his rookie campaign in 2008).  The misses against the Bills came from 48, 61, 53 and 48 yards, the last coming late in the fourth quarter with the Fins desperately needing the field goal to try to get the game into overtime.  For sure, the Fins won’t give up on Carpenter because of these misses, but they should give up on Offensive Coordinator Dan Henning. 

The game plan was more than a bit puzzling.  The Fins (who could only manage 55 yards passing against the Jets last week) showed little commitment to the running game even though the Bills were the NFL’s worst at stopping the run.  Ronnie and Ricky had a combined 58 yards rushing on the day.  How did that game plan get past Tony Sparano’s desk! 

In addition to the incredibly poor clock management in the last 41 seconds, the play calling on the Fins’ last meaningful chance to pull out the game was really suspect.   With Chad Henne completing 4 of 6 passes and moving the ball from the Fins’ 20 down to the Bills’ 31, Henne was inexplicably pulled off the field in favor of the Wildcat formation on 2nd and 10.  The Wildcat then produced zero yards leaving Henne to trot back onto the field for a 3rd and 10.  When his 3rd down pass fell incomplete, Dan Carpenter trotted onto the field and proceeded to miss from 48 yards, all but sealing the Fins’ fate.  Why Henne was pulled on 2nd and 10 when he had seemingly found some rhythm is truly a mystery. 

Chad Henne had a big part in the Bills’ first touchdown as his 16th interception of the season set up the Bills at the Fins’ 35-yard line.  The Bills used this golden opportunity to take a 7-0 lead before the first quarter was ever done.  And it was a lead they would not relinquish. 

Meanwhile, Henne completed 33 passes (on 45 attempts), but he only had 276 yards to show for all of those completions.  Brandon Marshall had 11 catches for 106 yards and a touchdown; Davone Bess had 9 receptions for 78 yards.  For the day Henne managed only a meager 8.4 yards per completion against the Bills.   The Fins’ offense didn’t have a gain of at least 20 yards until the 4th quarter and then only had one such gain on the day.  The problem with this offense is that it is missing the big-strike capability so that it always needs a lot of plays to put together a scoring drive.  But this offense is so inconsistent it has trouble putting together meaningful drives, even against a lesser team like the Bills.  And that is why the offense struggles more often than not. 

Unfortunately, the Fins get to stay home again this coming week when the Lions come into town.  Just about any other team would be a big favorite at home against Detroit.  The way the Fins have been going at home, Las Vegas may yet make them the underdog. How embarrassing!  But no more so than the Fins having their last remaining glimmer of hope for the playoffs Buffaloed by the Bills!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.