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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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'
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
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
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
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
Tim Bowens had 2 assists, but otherwise didn't contribute a lot to
Larry Chester had 1 solo tackle, but also didn't contribute
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.