Dolphins impressive, return to roots in victory against Packers

Dolphins “wake” up: Cameron Wake, run game awakened in Green Bay

Will we look back at Lambeau being the location where the Dolphins turn around their season?

“Outstanding,” Dolphins coach Tony Sparano describing Cameron Wake’s performance Sunday against the Packers. “Cam, he’s a dynamic guy in some of these clutch situations. We’ve seen him do that a few times last year in some of those end-of-game situations. I think he had three sacks today but he also got a big holding call there at the end. …

In a game where my game prediction was actually somewhat accurate, and was only off by one point in the final score, the Dolphins special teams actually was semi-efficient, and the “R&R Express” got themselves back on track, the game going into overtime could have been predictable after Aaron Rodgers got the best of the Dolphins defense on multiple occasions.

I mentioned in my keys to the game that something that the Dolphins HAD to do was get the running game going. They simply had to control the pace of the game, and not put any enormous pressure on quarterback Chad Henne. The Dolphins accomplished this feat in rushing for 150 yards (137 by Ricky and Ronnie) on 39 carries (32 by the R&R Express). By rushing for 150 yards, the Dolphins were also able to control the game clock, and keep Packers super-quarterback Aaron Rodgers off the field to try and dominate the game. Miami held the ball for 37:56, while Green Bay only 28:03.

Rodgers was able to complete 18/33 of his passes for 313 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. Rodgers also ran for a touchdown on 4 attempts for 14 yards as well.

But believe it or not, besides an 86 yard hookup between Rodgers and Jennings, the Dolphins defense was able to hold the quarterback in check, highlighted by 5 sacks by the Dolphins defense, 3 of which were by outside linebacker Cameron Wake. Wake was responsible for 6 quarterback hits, 3 tackles, 3 sacks, and a holding call that set the Packers back 10 yards on a critical play deep in the second half. Wake was dominant plain and simple, and controlled the rookie right tackle Bryan Bulaga all game long. It confused me though why the Packers would not double team Wake until deep into the fourth quarter and in overtime. The rookie obviously needed help, and the offense let him try and block Wake one-on-one the whole game. It proved to be a big mistake on the offensive coordinator’s part.

Another highlight of the game was the offensive line play. They were brilliant in the win today. Not once did Henne end up on the ground, and it was only on a  few occasions that Henne found himself under legitimate pressure. This is the type of performance that should be happening every week for the Fins. While the Packers had no real pass rushing threat, they still had 11 men on the field, and a creative defensive coordinator in Dom Capers, so no excuses should be made on Green Bays part.

Despite the close score, there were still some lowlights for me during the game. For one the Dolphins still go to their passing game first in pressure situations, and this theory should be forgotten. To start overtime off the Fins passed three straight times, and three straight times their pass patterns failed, or Henne threw an erratic pass. The second drive proved that the Dolphins are successful when they run, and the end stats backed this up as well. Keeping Henne out of the limelight is key at this point because he simply just is not to the point where he can take over games, let alone be the deciding factor in them. Let Henne manage the game, not decide it.

I was disappointed in our secondary play as well. Besides the 86 yard touchdown Vontae Davis shut down his opponents, but other than Jason Allen’s interception there were really no more highlights than that. Sean Smith provided solid coverage on some occasions, but showed with a weak attempt at an arm tackle that Allen still is superior than him at this point.

Chris Clemons also missed a couple of tackles throughout the game that cost the Dolphins some yardage, and did not back up his corners on multiple deep patterns, allowing for the 86 yard TD, and for other long passing plays.

Pit Stops:

  • Brandon Marshall had 10 catches on 17 targets for 127 yards. Davone Bess had a touchdown on 5 receptions for 37 yards. Anthony Fasano provided a 22 yard toucdown as well in the 4th quarter to put the Fins ahead 20-13.
  • The special teams coverage and return crew looked exceptionally better this week. The Packers kickoff return average was only 19 yards, while the Dolphins, led by Nolan Carroll, averaged 26 yards per return.
  • Bobby Carpenter and Lydon Murtha clearly are a problem on special teams. Carpenter missed a block that allowed a Brandon Fields punt to get tipped just enough for it only to go 29 yards. Murtha accounted for a holding penalty on a field goal that pushed kicker Dan Carpenter back to a 53 yarder. Luckily we have DC$ as our kicker.
  • Speaking of Carpenter, he was 3-3 on his kicks, converting on a career long 53 yarder, a 41 yarder, and a game winning 44 yarder in overtime.
  • The Dolphins defense held the Packers to only 3-13 on third down conversions today, not too shabby.
  • Lousaka Polite’s 20 straight short yardage conversion streak was ended today when he failed to convert a 3rd and 1 today.

The Dolphins pulled out a gutty win today, and gave us fans something to cheer about. This team is 3-0 on the road, and next week against the Pittsburgh Steelers and their #1 defense, they will be looking to get their first win at home in the Miami heat. This win is a building block for the team, and will give them something to cheer their spirits in the upcoming week of practice. Let’s go get it next week fellas!

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