The playoff hopes of the Miami Dolphins got a big boost on Sunday, as they had the ball for just 22 minutes and ran just 42 plays, but still were able to defeat a game San Francisco 49’ers club 14-9 at Dolphins Stadium in Miami. Chad Pennington threw two TD’s, a 61-yarder to David Martin and a 19-yarder to rookie Joey Haynos, making the first reception of his career, for the two big scores.
The 49’ers had a great shot near the end, as they reached the Dolphins 21, but on fourth-and-10 they were turned away as Joey Porter sacked Shaun Hill to end the threat. The now 9-5 Fins won for the seventh time in eight games. They can earn their first playoff berth since 2001 by sweeping their final two games, which would be a remarkable achievement for a team that went 1-15 last year.
San Fran had come in on a hot streak, winners of two straight after beating the Bills and Jets, but were limited on offense as they did not have the services of Miami native Frank Gore, who missed the game with a left ankle sprain. They still had 24 first downs and 318 yards, but on the day had to settle for three Joe Nedney field goals.
Hill was 30-for-46 for 233 yards and was also sacked five times for minus 27 yards. DeShaun Foster ran the ball 18 times for 76 yards for the 49’ers, who drop to 5-9 on the season. The Niners D held Miami to 248 yards, but the early play from Pennington to Martin and then their second quarter score coming from Haynos was too much to overcome.
Bad field position was a key to the 49’ers lack of success all day. They started their possessions at their 20, 20, 11, 4, 11, 13, 21, 34 and 39. Mistakes hurt them, too. They muffed a kickoff, made a fair catch of a punt inside the 5, dropped a potential interception and committed two false-start penalties on one play.
The Dolphins will be on the road next week as they travel to KC to play the Chiefs. The 49’ers are on the road as they take on the Rams.