The Dolphin Report

By Ron Poltorack

A WILD AND MEANINGLESS DIVISION WIN

The Dolphins’ first division win of the season was a wild one for sure. Imagine giving up three first quarter touchdowns to the lowly Bills, scoring but one field goal in the first three quarters, giving up a third quarter safety and still coming away with a win. It had to be the wildest win in Dolphins’ history. Unfortunately, it was a meaningless win as well.

Inside the first twelve minutes of the game the Dolphins found themselves at the wrong end of a 21-0 score. Heck, they were down 14-0 in the first three minutes! Just before the half they had a chance to close the gap to 21-7, but broke down in the red zone and had to settle for a 21-3 halftime score. The third quarter didn’t look any better as an ineffective Gus Frerotte got sacked hard in the end zone for a safety. At the start of the fourth quarter the Dolphins trailed 23-3. But then, the Fins took a ride on the wild side.

Sage Rosenfels (the quarterback who got yanked just two weeks ago in his only start this season) led the team to touchdown drives of 70 yards, 49 yards and 73 yards in a magical fourth quarter that saw the Dolphins erase a 20-point deficit, turning it into a one-point victory. The three drives took a total of 6:21, the final touchdown coming with 0:06 left in the game clock.

The defense got pushed around early, yielding three touchdowns that were aided by big plays. The offensive line was horrendous, failing to either open holes for the runners or protect Gus Frerotte, and getting called repeatedly for false starts. Gus Frerotte, well, he was Gus Frerotte, completing only 42.9% of his pass attempts and averaging a mere 4-yards per attempt, with one interception and no touchdowns. He sustained a concussion when he was sacked hard for a safety in the third quarter, forcing him to leave the game. In came Rosenfels . . .

Rosenfels, however, was not Rosenfels. He completed 59.5% of his passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns while playing less than a half. Chris Chambers set team records with 15 catches for 238 yards, although he had an early fumble and a few drops along the way. Meanwhile, Rosenfels showed he can play catch-up football, leading three fourth quarter touchdown drives, the winning touchdown coming on a fourth down pass to Chris Chambers with only six ticks left on the clock.

Olindo Mare booted the extra point for the winner and then kicked off as the Dolphins’ coverage team preserved the win by covering the kick-off as time expired. A jubilant Dolphins’ team then headed off to a very happy locker room.

But this win was meaningless for the Dolphins. Their only chance at making the playoffs is to win their four remaining games, including an early January road game against the Patriots, while the Patriots must lose three of their last four (since the Dolphins are on the short end of most tie-breakers, thanks to the fact that the win against the Bills was their only division win of the season). What would make any person think the Dolphins could finish the season with a six-game winning streak? This is a team that in the last three weeks was embarrassed by the Browns and almost lost to the Bills. This is a team that routinely gets poor play out of the quarterback position, has severe defensive weaknesses, has key defensive injuries and is two games under .500 even though it is riding a two-game winning streak.

This team has no chance to make the playoffs and that is why this win was meaningless (except, of course, for those teams finishing with one more loss than the Dolphins who will therefore draft higher than the Dolphins as a result). So while this was a truly wild division win, it was also a meaningless one.

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