The Dolphin Report

By Ron Poltorack

YELLOW FLAGS AND THE FIRST PICK

Sunday was another day for the Dolphins and their faithful to shake their heads and dream about the top draft pick. In a game against the Cardinals, a lowly team that had not won on the road in over two years, the Dolphins lost for the eighth time in nine games this season. Absent an abundance of yellow flags, they would have emerged with their second victory instead of their eighth defeat.
The game was moving along quite smoothly until Jay Fiedler was forced out with a shoulder stinger in the third quarter. A.J. Feeley took over with the Dolphins leading 12-3. The tide started to turn when Feeley threw a pass to the right side that was deflected into the hands of Duane Starks who ran 41 yards for a touchdown. This was the fifth time this season that Dolphins quarterbacks threw an interception that was run back for a touchdown. Feeley, the Dolphins’ 3-million dollar bonus baby, now has more interceptions for touchdowns (3) than he has touchdown passes (2)!
The Dolphins’ defense seemingly had a key Cardinals’ third quarter drive stopped with an interception. However, the interception was negated by a questionable roughing the passer penalty against Patrick Surtain. In anger, Jason Taylor kicked the ball and the zebras added an additional 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct. Instead of the Dolphins coming away with the ball, the Cardinals had it at the Dolphins’ 16 yard line. Shortly thereafter they scored for a 17-12 lead.
Even with these mistakes, the Dolphins were still in position to win the game. Feeley led them downfield late in the fourth quarter, the drive culminating with a one-yard touchdown run by Sammy Morris to go ahead 23-17. The key play was a 35 yard pass to Marty Booker to the one yard line. Unfortunately, that play looks to be the final one for Booker this season as he had to be helped off the field.
With under two minutes remaining, the Dolphins defense crumbled. Arizona moved the ball 70 yards for the game winning touchdown. They were aided by a crucial third-down penalty that nullified a sack that would have left them with a fourth and goal at the 13 yard line. Instead, they were given a first down at the two. Arizona then won the game on a reception that was made possible by Arizona’s top draft pick, Larry Fitzgerald, pushing off the defensive back.
The 12 penalty flags thrown against the Dolphins took away from fine performances by the running game (which totaled 170 yards led by Travis Minor who ran 11 times for 90 yards) and by Chris Chambers who caught 7 balls for 104 yards and added another 24 yards on an end around.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins are still well positioned for the top pick in the 2005 NFL draft and the rumors about Wannstedt’s immediate departure that were flying like the yellow flags were on Sunday have now been confirmed by his “resignation” Tuesday morning.

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