The fans were loud, the ground game was on fire, and the Dolphins looked more than primed to get back to .500 on Monday night. They forgot one important thing – to win. Yes, the Fins fell to 0-2 with a gut-wrenching 27-23 setback to Peyton Manning and the Colts, in a game in which the Dolphins basically dominated from start to finish.
Miami held the ball for 45:07 to just 14:53 for the Colts, the first time since 1977 a team has won holding the ball less than 15 minutes in a game. The wildcat was effective all night long, as Ronnie Brown was quick to make decisions, and no matter what the Dolphins did in the formation, it seemed to work.
So what happened? How could the Fins lose a game in which on paper it looks like they should have won rather easily? Well, they simply allowed too many big plays to the Colts, the likely biggest being a blitz that was beaten by Manning where he found wide out Pierre Garcon for a 48-yard TD that gave Indy the lead at 27-23 with 3:18 left.
Then there was the head scratching “two minute” offense of the Dolphins, which seemed more like a Sunday walk in the park. Chad Pennington, who played a solid game despite the setback, never seemed to rush to get plays off, and the sense of urgency that should have been there from the first play of the drive was never there.
So by the time Pennington spiked the ball with 6 seconds left from the Colts 30, you knew that it would basically be a “Hail Mary” that would have to win the game. And of course we all know now that the prayer put up was not answered, as it was picked off, sending the Dolphins to defeat.
The Colts ran 13 plays in the second half. The Dolphins outrushed them 239 to 61, and had 27 first downs to 14 for the Colts. A fluke loss? Yes, but at the same time, it was that 80-yard pass play on the first play of the game to Dallas Clark, as well as the play to Garcon that won the game.
Peyton Manning once again showed why you should want the ball in his hands late, and sadly for Pennington and the Dolphins, they played a great game and lost. Not a good sign for a team that felt they were as good as the 11 win team that won the AFC East a season ago.