The Dolphin Report

By Ron Poltorack

GETTING KNOCKED OUT OF THE PLAYOFFS AND FEELING GOOD

On a day that the Dolphins were officially knocked out of the playoff picture there was still reason to cheer. They beat the J-E-T-S. It may not have been easy, but the Dolphins sent the Jets to a perfect 0-8 road record for the season by a score of 24-20. Moreover, moments after the game ended the day became even sweeter for Dolfans when the Chargers took the ”un” out of the Colts’ season.

The Fins are now riding a four-game winning streak and are 7-7 with two games left. They can be assured of a .500 season with a win next week at home against the Titans (4-10). Although a sweep of both the Titans and the Patriots (on the road) would put the Dolphins at 9-7 coming off a 4-12 season last year, it would still not be good enough for a wildcard spot in the playoffs.

Although Sage Rosenfels rallied the Dolphins to a come-from-behind win, he did it by completing less than 50% of his passes and he managed only 99 yards. However, 50 of those yards came on a touchdown pass to Marty Booker. For those who think that Chris Chambers is the Dolphins’ only deep threat, this was Booker’s fourth reception of at least 50 yards this season.

Speaking of Chris Chambers, he caught an 8-yard touchdown pass to give the Dolphins’ a 7-0 first quarter lead. Chambers, who needed 42 yards coming into the day for his first 1,000-yard season, only managed 34 yards on the day. However, he now has 73 receptions for the year, his highest season’s total yet. Moreover, his reception totals have increased each year of his five-year career. His next reception should put him over the top for his first 1,000-yard season.

Ricky Williams had a productive day, gaining 70 yards on 14 carries (a 5.0 average). His biggest play was a 23-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Ronnie Brown only managed 45 yards on 12 carries (3.8 average).

Gus Frerotte played the first half before leaving the game with a finger injury. He completed 8 of 16 (50%) for 76 yards. Although he led the Dolphins to the first 10 points of the game, the defense surrendered 10 points in the last 4 minutes of the first half and another touchdown in the third quarter, thus setting the stage for Rosenfels comeback from that 17-10 deficit.

The Dolphins were out-gained in the game due mostly to the fine performances by two back-ups, running back Cedric Houston and quarterback Brooks Bollinger. Houston gained 84 yards on 15 carries (5.6 average) and Bollinger completed 66.7% of his passes for 327 yards. Bollinger almost pulled out the game for the Jets after a horrendous long pass interference call on a fourth and 13 kept the Jets alive late in the fourth quarter. However, he came up short with four incompletion pass attempts on first and five in the red zone. Bollinger’s performance broke a 43-game string in which the Dolphins had not allowed a quarterback to throw for 300 or more yards.

Jason Taylor had 3 of the Dolphins’ 6 sacks on the day, giving him 11 for the season. Brother-in-law Zach Thomas had another double digit tackle game which, for him, is just another day at the office.

As the ’72 Dolphins sipped champagne once again, their record safe for a thirty-third year, Nick Saban’s first season inched closer to an end. In his first year he has taken a 4-12 team to a 7-7 record thus far. He has begun to change the team make-up as well as the make-up of the team. He has also beaten the J-E-T-S and given Dolfans more hope for the future. Oh, what a lovely day to get knocked out of the playoffs!

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