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  Dolphins Game Summary: Dolphins vs Colts
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OVERALL SUMMARY:

The Dolphins took on the Indianapolis Colts yesterday in the RCA Dome in Indianapolis and when all was said and done, came away with a 21-13 victory over the former AFC East rival. It was a game of distinct pieces as the first half was all about Miami, while the third quarter was pretty even and most of the fourth quarter belonged to the Colts.

Ricky Williams was the star for Miami on offense, rushing for 132 yards and catching 2 passes for 62 yards. Fiedler scrambled for the first touchdown, Rob Konrad caught a pass for the second score and Ricky Williams caught a 10 yard pass for the final Miami touchdown.

In the end, however, it was up to the defense to stop the Colts' comeback in the 4th quarter and preserve the Dolphins victory. The game was not over until Brock Marion knocked down a Peyton Manning pass in the endzone on the last play of the game.

The Dolphins started the game with their standard offense and defense, but surprisingly, James McKnight was not active for the game. The Dolphins also left David Bowens off the active roster, but that was expected, given his injury status.

The Colts were with TE Marcus Pollard, and a scramble defensive line, but it was some of their veterans that provided most of their mistakes in the first half.

During the first half, the Dolphins' offense had 5 possessions and scored touchdowns on three of them. Their first possession started at the opening kickoff and Fiedler drove the offense 73 yards down the field and ran a naked bootleg for a touchdown from the Colts' 2 to finish the drive.

The Colts responded with a drive of their own, but when Peyton Manning hit TE Jerome Wiggins in the hands with the ball, the ball must have been feeling unloved, because it popped out of Wiggins' hands into the waiting arms of Derrick Rogers, who returned the interception to the Colts 49 yard line.

The Dolphins wasted no time capitalizing on this error, driving the 49 yards to the endzone on 7 plays, ending in a pass to a wide open Rob Konrad who strolled into the endzone to put Miami ahead 14-0 with 2:18 left to go in the first quarter. The Colts' next drive also ended in an interception as Peyton Manning's pass bounced out of the hands of Marvin Harrison into the arms of Jamar Fletcher at the Miami 37. Miami stalled on this drive, however, and punted to the Colts.

Finally, midway through the 2nd quarter, the Colts put together a long drive that ended on the Dolphins' 7, with the Colts forced to settle for a field goal that cut the lead to 14-3. But the Dolphins responded to this score on the very next drive by tossing a short pass to Ricky Williams, who scampered 52 yards down the right sideline to the Indianapolis 19.

This set up a 10 yard touchdown toss to Ricky Williams that put Miami up 21-3 with less than 2 minutes to go in the first half. Peyton Manning got impatient on the next drive and threw a deep pass to the endzone that landed in the arms of Patrick Surtain, for the third interception of the first half for Miami.

Unfortunately, Surtain twisted his leg on the play and limped off the field. Preliminary reports indicate that it's a bruise or a mild sprain, but we won't know more until Tuesday morning, after he has an MRI.

The first half ended with Miami ahead 21-3 and it looked like it was going to be another rout. Ricky Williams only had 39 rushing yards, but it was at a 4.9 ypc carry rate. Fiedler was 9 of 11 for 137 yards and 2 touchdowns, while Peyton Manning was 9 of 16 for 84 yards and 3 interceptions.

The only real bright spot for the Colts was Edgerrin James, how had rushed 15 times for 85 yards.

In the third quarter, the Dolphins offense began to sputter. After the Colts went 3 and out on their first possession, the Dolphins responded by driving to the Colts' 44, where Jay Fiedler overthrew Randy McMichael on the left side. Unfortunately, the Colts' David Macklin was behind McMichael and picked off the errant throw.

This gave the Colts some life. A long pass to Marvin Harrison put the ball at the Miami 2 yard line, but here the Colts got stuffed 4 times in a row by the Miami defense. They thought they could run Edgerrin James up the middle 4 times and break through. But Miami sold out to beat the run and stuffed James 4 times. It was an outstanding performance by the defense and one that would energize the defense for the rest of the day.

The result was no score for the Colts and Miami taking over at their own 1, with Miami still ahead 21-3 in the middle of the third quarter. The Colts and the Dolphins each had a short offensive series after that, but neither team did much with the ball. The Dolphins started the 4th quarter driving to the Colts' 11, but stalled there and Olindo Mare' missed a 28 yard field goal.

The Colts took the ball back and drove down for their first (and only) touchdown of the game on a 16 yard pass to Marvin Harrison at the expense of Jamar Fletcher. Miami had two important defensive penalties on the drive, both giving the Colts first downs.

With the defense now fired up, Miami was stuffed and punted back to the Colts. The Colts mounted another drive, again aided by 2 Miami defensive penalties, but this time stalled on the Dolphins' 6 and decided to kick a field goal. This put the Colts down 21-13 with 2:54 remaining, still needing a touchdown and a 2 point conversion to tie the game.

All the Dolphins had to do at this point was to run the clock out, but they chose not to keep the ball on the ground and when Fiedler dropped back to pass on one play, the Colts' Chad Bratzke came around Mark Dixon and knocked the ball out of Fielder's hands. Fortunately, Fiedler was able to fall on the ball, but that put Miami in a 3rd and 17 situation and they ended up punting with 2:15 remaining in the game.

However, the Colts had used all their timeouts on the previous drive and, starting on their 16, drove slowly up the field. The Dolphins put Sam Madison in one-on-one coverage on Marvin Harrison at this point and he managed to keep Harrison pretty much under wraps on the final drive.

So the Colts were slogging up the field with the clock running, giving the ball to Edgerrin James up the middle and throwing short passes to the receivers. They managed to reach the Miami 6, but had to spike the ball with 2 seconds left to stop the clock.

On the final play of the game, Manning dropped back and tried to rifle it to Qadry Ismael over the middle in the endzone. Brock Marion was sitting in the endzone waiting for that pass and knocked the ball away, saving the victory for Miami.

The game was really about 2 different Miami teams. In the first half, the Dolphins' offense looked almost unbeatable, scoring on 3 of 5 drives and one of the non-scoring "drives" was a kneel-down to end the half. Ricky ran wild, Jay Fiedler completed 9 of 11 passes and the offensive line blocked well.

The defense played an opportunistic, bend-but-don't-break style and it worked, holding the Colts to 3 points in the first half.

In the second half, the Dolphins began to make stupid mistakes, especially penalties, and kept shooting themselves in the foot. In the first half, the Dolphins had 2 penalties, but by the end of the game, they had amassed 11 total. That means that 9 of their penalties were in the 2nd half.

The only thing good about the 2nd half on offense was that Ricky actually got better running the ball. He had 39 rushing yards in the first half and 93 in the second half.

The defense was good for most of the game, although they too had too many penalties. But the goal line stand in the 3rd quarter was an exceptional piece of work and helped keep the game in control.

Overall, it was a good win for the Dolphins against a tough opponent.

GOOD STUFF:

The running game worked very well, picking up 163 yards on 34 carries for a 4.8 ypc average. The only real disappointment was on 2nd and 3 at the Colts' 13, when Miami couldn't get the first down on two carries and was forced to attempt a field goal.

The passing game was also good, especially the short passing game. Fiedler completed 72% of his passes and only had one really bad throw. The offensive line did a pretty good job pass blocking, only giving up one sack.

The offense only committed one turnover, on an overthrown ball by Jay Fiedler, while the defense snagged 3 interceptions from Peyton Manning. And the offense converted 50% of their 3rd down opportunities.

The run defense was not as good, but their goal-line stand was an amazing piece of defense. And while the defense did give up a lot of yards, they only gave up 13 points. The defensive philosophy of preventing the big play worked.

THINGS TO WORK ON:

The biggest problem the Dolphins had was penalties. They committed 11 penalties - 9 in the second half, stopping their own drives more than they were stopped and keeping Colts' drives alive.

The pass defense gave up a lot of plays and a lot of yards, and Jim Bates allowed Jamar Fletcher to stay in single coverage on Marvin Harrison much too long. That should have been addressed before the final drive of the game.

Also, there was no pass rush to speak of. Ogunleye appeared to have a sack early in the game, but a penalty negated the play. Otherwise, Manning was not sacked and only rarely pressured.

The run defense also gave up a lot of rushing yards to Edgerrin James. While they ultimately didn't mean much, it did give the Colts another weapon.

Kickoff and punt returns are not working very well. Albert Johnson has seemingly developed some kind of brain lock and is not playing with anywhere near the fire and decisiveness that he did in the pre-season. Either he needs to snap out of it or the coaches need to replace him.

INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCES:

Jay Fiedler had an excellent game, completing 13 of 18 passes for 187 yards with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. He also scrambled for a touchdown and recovered the ball after it was knocked out of his hands on the Dolphins' last series. He did make one serious mistake when he overthrew Randy McMichael into the Colts' secondary, but overall he had a very good game.

Ricky Williams had another outstanding effort, rushing 24 times for 132 yards at 5.5 ypc. He also caught 2 passes for 62 yards, including a 52 yard scamper to set up his own 10 yard touchdown reception.

Robert Edwards caught just 1 pass for 5 yards and dropped another on 3rd down. He was not a big factor in this game.

Travis Minor carried the ball 3 times for just 1 yard and didn't catch any passes.

Chris Chambers caught 4 passes for 57 yards and looked pretty good doing it. He also threw some good blocks downfield.

Randy McMichael caught just 2 passes for 34 yards, but his 24 yard reception in the first quarter set up the first Dolphins' touchdown.

Oronde Gadsden caught 2 passes for 14 yards and dropped a pass that was right in his hands early in the game.

Rob Konrad only touched the ball once, but when he did it was on a 9 yard touchdown pass. Konrad has now caught as many passes in 2 games as he caught all last year.

The offensive line had a pretty good day, only giving up one sack and opening a number of holes for Ricky. The biggest gaffe occurred when Mark Dixon allowed Chad Bratzke to get around him at the end of the game and knock the ball out of Jay Fiedler's hands.

On defense, Zach Thomas lead all Dolphins' defenders with 11 tackles and was instrumental in stopping Edgerrin James at the one yard line.

Second in tackles was Jamar Fletcher, who had 10 solo tackles, one pick and 2 passes knocked down. He was burned by Marvin Harrison for the Colts' only touchdown, however and one pass interference penalty.

Antonio Freeman had 8 tackles and knocked down one pass, but also had two penalties - a facemask penalty and a pass interference penalty. He'll need a little more seasoning before he's fully integrated into the defense.

Jason Taylor had 6 tackles and put some pressure on Manning, but didn't get any sacks.

Brock Marion had 6 tackles and knocked down 2 passes, including the final pass on the final play of the game.

Jermaine Haley is having an excellent season so far as a backup in the defensive tackle rotation. Yesterday, he had 5 tackles.

Derrick Rodgers had 5 tackles, 1 interception and 1 pass defensed. He had a much better day yesterday than he did last week.

Trent Gamble got a lot of playing time after Patrick Surtain left the game and ended the day with 3 tackles and 1 special teams tackle.

Jay Williams had 3 tackles in the defensive line rotation. Shawn Wooden had 3 tackles in regular play, but also had 3 tackles on special teams. Before he left the game, Patrick Surtain had 2 tackles, 1 interception and another knocked down.

Sam Madison had two assists and knocked down one pass, but more importantly, did a good job covering Marvin Harrison at the end of the game.

Tim Bowens had 2 assists, but otherwise didn't contribute a lot to the game.

Larry Chester had 1 solo tackle, but also didn't contribute much else.

Tommy Hendricks had only 1 solo tackle, but the tackle was on Edgerrin James on 4th and goal from the Miami 1. Hendricks helped save the touchdown. He's coming along very nicely.

Albert Johnson did not have a particularly good day. He had 2 kickoff returns of 25 yards each and 1 punt return of 6 yards. He looked hesitant on the returns and didn't do a good job finding the crease in the defense.

Olindo Mare' did a good job on kickoffs, but missed his only field goal attempt and that one should have been an easy score for him.

Mark Royals had a good day kicking, averaging 47.3 yards per punt and putting 2 down inside the 20.

INJURIES:

The only significant injury was to Patrick Surtain, who either bruised or sprained his knee on his interception at the end of the first half. As of this writing, I don't know what the outlook on Surtain is, but he says he'll be ready to play against the Jets.

Whether he's ready to play against the Jets or not, the injury does not appear serious and he shouldn't be out more than a week or two.

COMMENTS:

Overall, I thought the Dolphins played well in this game. While it's true that the offense only played well in the first half, when the offense faltered, the defense stepped up, as it has in the past. But until they began shooting themselves in the foot, the offense looked very good.

And the offense wasn't completely terrible in the 2nd half - they just couldn't sustain any drives. Ricky Williams rushed for 93 yards in the 2nd half and looked like he was getting stronger.

The biggest problem, as I said above, was penalties. The 9 penalties the Dolphins committed in the 2nd half killed any momentum they might have generated and let the Colts generate a lot more offense. Fortunately, that is something that is correctable.

Hopefully, the Dolphins will correct it before the Jets come to town.

The biggest controversy after the game was, of course, the play of Jamar Fletcher. He's becoming the defense's Jay Fiedler - or the next T-Buck, take your pick.

And by that, I'm not referring to talent. I'm talking about the fans' perception of him.

Personally, I think that a lot of fans are being too hard on him. For the most part, he played Harrison and Ismael the way he was told to play them - not letting them get behind him and give up the big play. His interception was a lucky shot, but he also knocked down 2 passes and made 10 solo tackles.

Yes, Marvin Harrison turned him in circles. Harrison ended the day with 11 catches for 144 yards and 1 touchdown, when he beat Fletcher.

But Marvin Harrison does that to a lot of cornerbacks. Being roasted by Marvin Harrison is not an indication of a bad cornerback. Last year, in the first game against the Dolphins, Harrison had 9 catches for 173 yards and 3 touchdowns against Madison, Surtain and Cousin.

So Fletcher is not the first Dolphins' CB to be toasted by Harrison. Last fall, it was Patrick Surtain who was left in Harrison's dust.

I'm not saying that Fletcher is anywhere near as good as Surtain, but I do think it's important to keep things in perspective.

Bottom line - I think Fletcher is a pretty good cornerback, for a nickel back. But I don't think he has done anything to show that he was worth a first round draft choice.

Still, it's early in the year. He'll have plenty of time to work on his skills.

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