Dolphins Watch

September 22, 2009 5:19 PM

Conservative Dolphins done in by Colts

As we've often heard, statistics don't always tell the story, and Monday night was proof of that.

The Miami Dolphins dominated time of possession, holding the ball for more than three full quarters.

They had 27 first downs to the Indianapolis Colts' 14, ran for 239 yards to Indy's 61.

Yet, by game's end, the scoreboard read, Indianapolis 27, Miami 23.

A must win for the Dolphins became a blown opportunity.

Yes, they had the ball for the majority of the game and kept the Peyton Manning-led offense off the field.

But the defense couldn't stop the Colts when it counted.

Manning read a blitz and hit second-year receiver Pierre Garcon, who wove his way to the 48-yard TD that won the game.

Then, the Dolphins went into the worst two-minute offense since Donovan McNabb gagged his way through the end of Super Bowl XXXIX against the Patriots.

With 3:18 to play, and needing 82 yards to score the game-winner, the Dolphins ran on first down, let the clock wind down to 2:26, then called time out.

They then inexplicably ran the ball again to get down to the two-minute warning.

Quarterback Chad Pennington resorted to play action fakes against a defense that was expecting nothing but pass, fooling no one and wasting precious seconds in the process.

Then came the coup de gras, as Ted Ginn, who had a good game with 11 catches for 108 yards, had the potential winning TD pass bounce off his hands in the end zone.

A pass to Ginn on fourth-and-10 gained 12 to the Colts' 30, but with no timeouts left, Pennington had to spike the ball with 12 seconds left.

A desperation heave followed, which was intercepted by Antoine Bethea, and the Dolphins' chances for victory vanished.

Just as damning was the previous possession, when the Dolphins and Colts were tied 20-20 and Miami was driving.

On third-and-6 from the Colts 30, the Dolphins called another run. Ronnie Brown got just two yards, and Dan Carpenter booted a 45-yard field goal to give them a three-point lead.

That is not exaclty going for the jugular against the Colts, and Manning made the Dolphins pay.

Brown ran for 136 yards on 24 carries, scored two TDs and ran the "Wildcat" flawlessly.

But in the end, the Dolphins' inability to get to Manning -- and to tackle in critical situations -- cost them as much as the conservative playcalling did.

On the first play of the game, as expected, Manning went to tight end Dallas Clark, who beat a befuddled Akin Ayodele, and safety Gibril Wilson could not wrap him up.

Clark's marathon 80-yard TD was a sign of things to come.

The Colts did not have the ball often, but Manning made the most of it every time they did.

Wilson and Yeremiah Bell continued to struggle, missing tackles and coverages, and Clark had a second straight huge day for a tight end against Miami: seven catches for a career-high 183 yards.

The defense got no pressure on Manning. Joey Porter had the team's only sack, and Jason Taylor was missing in action.

Now, at 0-2, the Fins go to San Diego to play the high-powered Chargers, and you can bet Antonio Gates has to be licking his lips right now after the way tight ends have feasted on the defense.

There are also rumblings that if things continue to head south, Pennington -- who had a solid game with with 22 completions in 33 attempts for 183 yards -- will be benched in favor of second-year pro Chad Henne.

If that happens, it might already be time to start thinking about 2010.

(Photo: Yahoo Images)

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