The Dolphin Report

By Ron Poltorack


With 10 wins under his belt in his first season guiding the Dolphins offense, Chad Pennington undoubtedly can’t wait for the season finale against Brett Favre and the Jets next Sunday in a game where the Fins will walk away with the AFC Eastern Division title by beating the Jets. The only cause for debate: (a) is Chad more eager to play the team that JETtisoned him in favor of Brett Favre deep into training camp this year; or (b) is he more eager to play for the division title. A good bet would be choice (c) . . . all of the above! So, bring on Brett!

Not even a blistering cold day in Kansas City could stop Finderella. The Dolphins have gone from the NFL’s laughing stock to its darling seemingly overnight. From a near-miss imperfect season last year to a 10-win season this year that underscores an unbelievable transition year no matter what happens next week. But after watching this team develop as this season progressed, there won’t be many writing them off going into the season finale. How can you when they have sandwiched 2 four-game winning streaks around a loss to the Patriots?

Still, the 38-31 win in Kansas City wasn’t exactly pretty. In many ways this good new, bad news game was purely offensive. It was good news indeed that the offense broke out of its shell to score 38 points. The bad news was that the defense—coming off of a 3-game stretch without surrendering a single touchdown—gave up 4 touchdowns in the first half. This was indeed bad news coming as it did against a 2-12 Chiefs team. The Fins were down 28-24 by halftime and their defense had already given up 347 yards to the Chiefs. At that point, the defense looked plainly offensive . When the Chiefs started the second half by driving down the field to get a field goal, things were not looking any better. But then, the defense came alive and held the Chiefs without another point (and held them to only 145 total yards in the second half ).

Once again, the win was punctuated by another Patented Pennington Fourth Quarter Touchdown Drive. This one spanned 85 yards in 8:33 and put the Fins ahead for good 38-31. It seems week to week that no matter how tough the game is to that point, Chad Pennington finds a way to muster a key fourth quarter drive to chew up the clock and put the winning points on the board. This drive culminated in a 14-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Fasano, his second of the day. Although somewhat unusual for such a cold weather game, Chad had 3 touchdown passes, all of which were to his tight ends (the other being an 11-yarder to David Martin in the second quarter). He finished 26 of 34 (76.5%) for 235 yards in a game that surely won’t hurt his passer rating. On the other side of the ledger, Chad was intercepted once (number 7 for the season), however, his TD:INT ratio is still an impressive 17:7 for the season. And going into the Showdown in the Meadowlands, Chad’s season stats are better than Favre’s in quarterback rating, passing yardage, completion percentage, TD:INT ratio and interceptions.

All in all, the Fins were happy to walk away with the victory that sets up the battle with the Jets next Sunday. And with the brutal weather, one can imagine just how happy the Fins were to board the team plane and head back to South Florida right after the game. Despite the anticipated cold at next week’s game, which the network figures to move to a prime-time game, the adrenalin should help keep the Fins warm throughout their improbable season-ending shot at first place.

It was not only cold in Kansas City on Sunday, but it was actually the coldest game any Dolphins’ team has ever played in with the thermometer reading a mere 10° at kickoff. And the wind-chill factor dropped the effective temperature well below zero. But that didn’t stop these warm blooded Dolphins who have won 8 of their last 9 that brings them to the brink of an AFC Eastern title that is dependent only upon next week’s game at the Meadowlands. Truly Amazing! So there’s nothing more to say than: “Bring on Brett!”

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