The Dolphin Report

By Ron Poltorack

COWBOYS HAD A LOT OF REASONS TO BE THANKFUL

The Cowboys sure had a lot of reasons to be thankful this Thanksgiving as they beat the Fins 20-17 thanks to a last second field goal.  The number one thing they had to be thankful for was that Tony Sparano was still the Fins’ head coach, for another coach would not have taken the gamble that ultimately made the difference in the ballgame.  They also should be thankful that the Fins’ had zero points to show for their first 2 possessions of the game despite starting those possessions at their own 42 yard line and at midfield, respectively.  They also had to be thankful that the Fins’ missed a 47-yard field goal in the second quarter.  They also had to be thankful for the Fins’ inability to get a single first down when they got the ball with 4:47 left in the game leading 19-17 and needed a couple of first downs to be able to run out the clock. 

As for Ex-Cowboy Sparano, he surely has some explaining to do for the gift touchdown he gave the Cowboys just before the half when the score was 3-3 (and he knew that the Fins would be receiving the kickoff after halftime).  You see, with only 1:45 left in the second quarter, the Fins got the ball at their own 28-yard line.  At that point, the Fins had a whole lot more to lose than gain and should have been in run out the clock mode.  Instead, Sparano went on the offensive.  And after the Fins were put in a 3rd and 14 situation thanks to a false start by Jake Long (who drew several flags in the game) and a 5-yard loss on a pass to Reggie Bush, he continued in that unfortunate mindset.  For some unknown reason, Moore remained in a shotgun formation with the ball on their own 24-yard line and 1:08 left on the game clock.  As if Sparano was begging for a turnover, the Fins got what Sparano deserved as the snap sailed past Moore and the ball was recovered by the Cowboys on the Fins’ 6-yard line.   Seven seconds later the Cowboys took a 10-3 lead.  Thanks to an excellent kickoff return the Fins would luckily manage a field goal before halftime, but it was still a 4-point swing that should not have happened. This unfortunate 4-point swing proved to be more than the ultimate 1-point differential in the final score. 

While the Fins never really got the ground game going (22 carries for 89 yards; 3.6 average), Matt Moore had another fairly good game.  He threw some chunk passes with 5 of his completions going for a total of 173 yards.  Unfortunately, the remaining 14 completions only yielded another 90 yards.  Moore completed 59.4% (19 of 32) on his way to a 99.5 QB rating.  Although Brandon Marshall had 5 catches for 103 yards including an incredible touchdown reception with a defender actually choking him as he caught the ball in the end zone, he only caught half of the 10 passes thrown in his direction. 

Defensively, the Fins did a decent job of stopping the Cowboys, except in the final minutes of the game when a stop was needed to win the game.  It was the fourth time this season that the defense let one get away in the waning minutes of the game. 

Yes, the Fins were clearly in a giving mood this Thanksgiving, as if they had their collective mind’s eye on Black Friday.  One can only hope that team owner Stephen Ross is also in a giving mood this holiday season, for it would be nice to see him give a pink slip to our two “gifts” from Dallas, Sparano and Ireland.

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