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The Dolphins hoped to pull an upset on Monday night football
last night, and for a while, it looked like they might just be able to
do that. They found their missing passing game and while the running
game was still absent, Dan Marino went over 300 passing yards for the
first time this year. However, with a flurry of big plays, the
Jacksonville Jaguars ended up on the winning end of a see-saw 28-21
victory in Jacksonville.
The game started off with a play that turned out to be an omen
for the rest of the game. After Tavian Banks returned the kickoff to
the Jaguars 23 yard line, Mark Brunell handed off to Fred Taylor on the
first play of from scrimmage. Taylor started to his left, but cut back
to the right and raced through the Dolphins defense to the right and
then straight up the sideline for 77 yards and a touchdown.
The rest of the game, Fred Taylor would have 11 more carries
for 12 yards, but because of that one run, he would end the night with
a 7.4 yard-per-carry average.
On the play, the Dolphins had started Jason Taylor at left
defensive end and Jason didn't get to the middle quickly enough to stop
Fred Taylor. The linebacker on that side over-pursued to the middle
and all Fred Taylor had to do was to outrun Brock Marion and Calvin
Jackson to the endzone, giving the Jaguars a very early 7-0 lead.
The Dolphins then started at their 29 after Avery returned the
kickoff 23 yards. Some short passes to Drayton and McDuffie moved the
ball out to their 48 before the Dolphins stalled and were forced to
punt. The punt went out of bounds at the Jaguar 4 and on their first
play of the next series, Brunell completed a 41 yard pass to Jimmy
Smith. However, after Fred Taylor was stuffed twice at the Jaguar 45,
Surtain hit McCardell just as the ball got there on third down and the
Jags were forced to punt.
The Dolphins started the next drive at their 20 after a
touchback on the punt and after a great catch by McDuffie moved the
ball out to the 39, the Dolphins stalled again as Horace Copeland
dropped his first pass as a Dolphin and the Dolphins punted for the
second time in the game. The Jaguars took over at their 23 after a
decent return from the 11, but this time the Dolphins' defense allowed
only an 18 yard scramble by Brunell before they shut down the Jaguars,
forcing them to punt from their 45.
McDuffie called for a fair catch at the Dolphins 10 and Marino
tried to hit Gadsden on first down, but the ball was a little too high
for him and after McDuffie dropped the pass on second down, Marino did
find Gadsden for 9 yards on third. However, now facing a 4th and 1 at
their own 19, the Dolphins punted. This punt was pretty short and the
Jaguars started at their own 47. Fred Taylor moved it into Miami
territory on 2 carries and on 3rd and 4, Brunell rolled out to his left
on a play-fake and found Reggie Barlow open for a 19 yard gain to the
On the next play, Brunell found their fullback Shelton wide
open in the left flat for 19 more yards to the Dolphin 8 yard line.
The first quarter ended with the Jaguars up 7-0 and driving for more.
At this point, the game was looking pretty dismal for the
Dolphins and I was getting pretty concerned about the lack of offensive
production by the Dolphins and the Jaguars ability to move the football,
seemingly at will.
The second quarter opened with a 6 yard dump pass to Banks,
followed by a 2 yard touchdown run right up the middle by Fred Taylor,
which put the Jaguars up 14-0. Derrick Rodgers actually hit Taylor in
the backfield on this play, but was unable to bring him down.
On the kickoff, Avery returned the ball 30 yards to the 31 and
the Dolphins put together their first scoring drive of the night. The
drive was almost entirely a passing drive, with Karim Abdul-Jabbar
carrying the ball 5 times for a total of 7 yards on the drive. Marino
hit McDuffie once on this drive for 5 yards and a pitchout to Parmalee
got 5 yards on a 3rd and 4 from the Dolphins 37.
After Karim was stuffed on 1st and 10 at the Dolphins 42,
Marino found Gadsden open middle for a 23 yard gain to the Jaguars' 38
and after he was sacked on first down, he found Lamar Thomas open down
the right sideline for 26 more yards. Thomas made a fine catch, but
had to be helped off the field after he was hit so hard on the tackle
that his helmet came off. However, he held on to the ball and the
Dolphins advanced to the Jaguars' 18.
A short pass to Pritchett and a 9 yard run by Karim, put the
ball at the 2 and the Dolphins had a first and goal. But Karim was
stuffed twice, so on 3rd and goal, Marino ran the play-fake and threw to
Troy Drayton, who was open in the endzone. On the play, Drayton dived
and got both hands under the ball, but let it get through his arms and
hit the ground under his stomach. However, his body shielded the view
of the referee and he was given the touchdown, putting the Dolphins
back into the game with a 14-7 score.
After a short return by Banks for the Jags, a short run and
pass to Fred Taylor left the Jags with a 3rd and 8 at their 24. Brunell
tried to go to Keenan McCardell down the right side, but Terrell Buckley
came back in front of McCardell and took the ball away, giving the
Dolphins a first down at the Jags' 36. The Dolphins got 13 yards on a
quick slant to OJ McDuffie, but after Avery was dropped in the
backfield and McDuffie fell down on a play, the Dolphins faced a 3rd
and 13 from the 26. Marino dropped back and tried to fire the ball to
Gadsden, but it was tipped at the line of scrimmage and sailed just
enough to end up in Aaron Beasley's hands for an interception at the
Beasley returned the ball to the Jacksonville 44, where two
runs by Taylor and Banks got 9 yards, but on 3rd and 1 at the Miami 47,
Tim Bowens blew threw the Jaguars offensive line and nailed Taylor for
a 4 yard loss, forcing the Jaguars to punt. McDuffie made a fair catch
at the Dolphins' 15 with 2:32 remaining in the first half.
The Dolphins put together a decent drive, with a 10 yard draw
to Parmalee, followed by a 17 yard completion to Gadsden over the
middle. A false start by Dixon made it first and 15 at the Dolphins'
37, but a 14 yard completion to Gadsden drove it to the Jaguars' 49.
There, on 2nd and 1, a run for no gain, followed by a pass to Perry for
no gain left the Dolphins with a 4th and 1 and they elected to punt.
On the punt, Nate Jacquet was penalized for fair catch
interference, because even though he didn't touch the returner, he
supposedly got within 1 yard of him. However, this was a bad call,
which gave the Jaguars a first and 10 at their 28 with 30 seconds left
in the half. After a scramble by Brunell was negated by a penalty on
Tony Boselli for illegal use of the hands, a perfectly executed draw
play to Tavian Banks fooled the Dolphins' defense and he raced down the
right sideline for 51 yards before Brock Marion could knock him out of
This gave the Jags a 1st and 10 at the Dolphins' 31 and after
Brunell scrambled for 4 yards to the Dolphins' 27, the Jaguars tried a
45 yard field goal as time ran out in the first half. The attempt
sailed wide right, however, and the first half ended with the Jaguars
ahead by the score of 14-7.
The first half stats were a little misleading, in that the
Jaguars had 168 yards rushing, but 128 of those yards were on 2 plays.
The Dolphins only had 30 yards rushing on 13 carries in the first half,
but they did have 139 passing yards and were moving the ball through
the air. The Dolphin defense had given up several big plays, but had
also been very tough at points.
The second half opened with the Dolphins starting at their 45
after a 26 return by Marion and a penalty on the Jaguars for an illegal
block. The team moved backwards after a 4 yard gain on first down as
Gadsden was penalized for offensive pass interference on second down.
This left the Dolphins with a 3rd and 17 from their 38, but Marino hit
Ed Perry for 20 yards and the Jaguars' safety was penalized for
roughing the passer after he launched himself at Marino and hit Dan in
the helmet with his helmet.
The combination of the penalty and the completion gave the
Dolphins a first and 10 at the Jags 22. An 8 yard completion to
McDuffie, followed by a 6 yard completion to Lamar Thomas gave the
Dolphins a first and goal at the Jaguars 8. However, after Karim was
stuffed for a big loss on first down and Marino was forced to throw the
ball away on 2nd down, the Dolphins were hit with 2 false start
penalties on 3rd down, moving the Dolphins back to a 3rd and goal from
their 22. When the play finally took place, it appeared that Dan threw
and interception right down the middle of the field to the Jaguars'
defensive back. However, the Jaguars were called for pass interference
and replay showed them knocking down Ed Perry over the middle on the
The interference call gave the Dolphins a first and goal at the
2 and it took two tries, but Karim Abdul-Jabbar finally punched the ball
over behind Mark Dixon for a touchdown that tied the score at 14-14.
The Jags took over at their 25 after the kickoff, but a savage
hit by Zach Thomas knocked Fred Taylor out of the game on first down
and Kenny Mixon sacked Brunell on second down on a stunt up the middle.
That left the Jaguars with a 3rd and 17 at their 18 and Jerry Wilson
came on a cornerback blitz that almost got to Brunell and forced him to
throw the ball away. The Jaguars punted from their 18 and Terrell
Buckley took the ball and returned it 19 yards to the Jaguars' 48.
However, on this play, Larry Izzo was penalized after the play
was over for taunting. No one seems to know what he said, but he was
talking to the Jaguars' player and the ref was close enough to overhear
whatever he said and threw the flag. It was a very small taunt -
there was no arm waving or getting in the guy's face, but whatever he
said was enough to make the official throw the flag.
The Dolphins started from their 37 with another run for
negative yardage. However, on 2nd and 11, Marino hit Lamar Thomas for
21 yards to the Jaguars' 43. After a couple of short runs by Karim and
a couple of short passes to McDuffie and then to Perry, the Dolphins
had moved down to the Jacksonville 17. Karim got only 2 yards on 1st
down from the 17, but on 2nd down, Drayton ran the out and up towards
the endzone and after the Jaguars' safety slipped on the field and
fell, Drayton was wide open when Marino found him, getting the ball to
him for a touchdown and a 21-14 Miami lead.
At this point in the game, all the momentum was going Miami's
way and it looked like they had taken control of the game.
The Jaguars reinforced his on their next series, which started
at their 34 after a nice kickoff return by Barlow. A holding penalty,
followed by a sack by Trace Armstrong, moved the Jags back to their 33.
Then 2 false starts pushed them back even farther, so they were facing
a 3rd and 28 from their 32. They got some of those yards back, but
were forced to punt from their 42. At first, it looked like they had
made a great stop on Buckley, who made a mistake taking the ball at the
Dolphins' 3, but an illegal shift penalty forced the Jaguars to kick
On the next punt, it looked like Buckley had made a decent
return to the 24, but an illegal block penalty on Dwight Hollier moved
the ball back to the Dolphins' 7. The third quarter ended with the
Dolphins facing a 1st and 10 from their own 7, but ahead on the
scoreboard by the score or 21-14.
The Dolphins appeared to get a nice run by Karim, but were
penalized for holding and now faced a 1st and 13 at their 4. McDuffie
dropped a first down pass and after Karim was stuffed on 2nd down,
Marino overthrew Gadsden on third down, forcing the Dolphins to punt.
Earlier in the game, Wilmsmeyer had apparently strained or pulled a
muscle in his leg and was unable to punt, so Olindo Mare' punted from
the Dolphins' 4. His punt was short and was taken at the Dolphins' 40
by Barlow as he called for a fair catch.
With outstanding field position, Brunell wasted no time,
completing passes to Barlow and to McCardell down to the Dolphins' 23.
From there, on first and 10, he ran a play fake and found McCardell
deep over the middle in the endzone for a touchdown to tie the game up
The kickoff was taken by Avery, who returned the ball to the
29. From there, Miami moved the ball on passes to Drayton and Lamar
Thomas and even a 7 yard run by Karim to the Jaguar 43. However, at
that point, the Jaguar defense stiffened and a blitz forced Dan to
throw the ball away on third down. The Dolphins punted from that point
and the ball bounced into the endzone for a touchback.
The Jaguars tried to run the ball twice, but only gained 4
yards and after a third down pass was overthrown, the Jaguars punted
back to the Dolphins. Now, with 6:57 left in the game, Miami finally
got a little running game going. Abdul-Jabbar ran 4 times in a row for
24 yards to the Jaguars 41. A short pass to Pritchett got 2 yards and
a run by Avery got 3 yards, leaving the Dolphins with a 3rd and 5 at
the 36. Marino tried to go to McDuffie, but pressure caused him to
throw short and the Dolphins faced a 4th and 5.
At this point in the game, JJ made a controversial decision.
He decided to attempt a 54 yard field goal with less than 3 minutes
remaining in the game. The kick was long enough, but it was just
barely wide right and the Jaguars took over on their 44. On the very
next play, Brunell used the play fake again and having all day to
throw, he saw that McCardell had a step on Buckley down the right
sideline. He threw a perfect pass and when Buckley turned back to look
at the ball, McCardell got another step on Buckley and that was enough.
McCardell gathered the pass and ran it in untouched for the touchdown.
This score gave the Jaguars a 28-21 lead, but with 2:38
remaining on the clock, that was more than enough time for Marino to
take the team the length of the field. Avery returned the kickoff to
the 34, giving the Dolphins good field position. Marino found Gadsden
on first down for 28 yards on a deep crossing route, giving the
Dolphins a first and 10 at the Jaguars 38 as the 2 minute warning
On the next play, there was no one open and Marino threw the
ball away. Then, on 2nd and 10 from the Jaguar 38 with 1:56 on the
clock, Marino dropped back to pass. From his blindside, Jaguars'
defensive end Tony Brackens was pushed wide by Richmond Webb, but
Brackens recovered quickly enough to reach out and swat the ball out of
Marino's hands and then fall on it to recover the fumble. This
effectively ended the Dolphins' chances.
The Jaguars took over at their 48 and ran three running plays,
all of which the Dolphins stuffed. However, the Dolphins were forced
to use all their timeouts and even though they got the ball back
following a punt, they had to start at their own 7 after Madison was
penalized on the punt for defensive holding.
With 49 seconds remaining, no timeouts left and the Dolphins
starting at their 7, they had virtually no chance. They gained some
yardage out to the 34, but with time running out, Marino was forced to
throw the Hail Mary pass, which was knocked down at the Jacksonville
The Dolphins ended up controlling the ball almost twice as long
in this game as the Jaguars and even though they didn't get the running
game going, they played tough and never gave up trying. However, they
did give up too many big plays to the Jaguars and that was the
difference in the game. When it came down to the final score, it was
a testament to the fact that the Jaguars had the playmakers on offense
who came up with the big plays, while the Dolphins didn't.
The offense found it's passing game and the Dolphins gained 307
net yards through the air against Jacksonville, including 2 touchdowns.
The pass protection was superb for most of the game and the receivers
worked very hard to get open.
The ball was spread around a lot and the tight ends got a lot
of work in this game. They were very effective and a very dangerous
weapon for the Dolphins.
For the most part, the defense continued to play well. The
pass rush generated pressure on Brunell, despite playing against one of
the best offensive lines in the league and the run defense was pretty
stout. While the Jaguars had two big running plays, they never did get
a consistent rushing game going.
THINGS TO WORK ON:
The way the Dolphins gave up the big play was their undoing.
They can't allow opponents to go deep on them or give up 77 yard
touchdown runs, especially against quality opponents.
The running game needs to get back to where it was in the first
three games of the year. It has pretty much vanished.
Marino had his best game of the year. He was 30 of 49 (62%
completion rate) for 323 yards with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception.
He looked just like - well, like Dan Marino.
Karim Abdul-Jabbar had a pretty bad game. He ended the night
with 21 carries for 43 yards and had a dropped pass that Dan had laid
in there perfectly for him.
John Avery didn't have a very good game, either. He only got
to carry the ball 3 times for 4 yards and caught one pass for minus 2
yards. His kickoff returns were good, but he didn't break any.
Bernie Parmalee had a few nice plays, picking up 15 yards on 3
carries for a 5 yard-per-carry average. He also caught 2 passes for 27
yards and had 2 special teams tackles.
Stanley Pritchett caught 2 passes for 9 yards, but continues to
be mostly a non-factor.
OJ McDuffie caught the most passes with 7 receptions for 68
yards and made a couple of nice grabs. He did drop one that was right
in his hands, however.
Right behind him was Troy Drayton, who caught 6 passes for 30
yards and the two receiving touchdowns.
Oronde Gadsden continues his development, catching 5 passes for
91 yards and having the longest catch of a Dolphin on the night for 28
My hat is off to Lamar Thomas, who was getting hammered on the
field, but came with with a couple of very impressive catches as he
hauled in 4 passes for 69 yards.
Ed Perry reappeared in this game, catching 3 balls for 31
yards and drawing the pass interference penalty.
The offensive line gave some excellent pass protection all
night, but couldn't open many holes for the running backs to get
On defense, Zach Thomas led tacklers with 6 total tackles and a
Right behind him, Terrell Buckley had 5 tackles, an
interception and 2 passes defensed. He also returned 3 punts for 37
yards. However, T-Buck was beaten on both 4th quarter touchdown
Sam Madison and Brock Marion each had 3 tackles apiece, but
neither got an interception.
Trace Armstrong led defensive linemen with 2 tackles and a sack
Tim Bowens also had two tackles and made an excellent play to
stop the Jaguars on 3rd and 1 in the third quarter.
Calvin Jackson, Robert Jones and Jerry Wilson all had two
tackles each. Jerry Wilson also forced Brunell to throw the ball away
once when he came on a corner blitz.
Darryl Gardener, Derrick Rodgers and Patrick Surtain all had
one tackle each.
Kenny Mixon also had just one tackle, but it was a sack on a
nicely executed stunt up the middle.
And Jason Taylor had only one solo tackle, but he did get some
pressure on Brunell, even though he was matched up with Tony Boselli.
Olindo Mare' didn't kick as well as he has in the past. He
missed the long field goal and his kickoffs weren't getting as deep as
they have in past games. He also punted for the last half of the game
and did ok in that regard.
Klaus Wilmsmeyer was having a good game before he left with his
injury. It's not expected to keep him out next week.
Wilmsmeyer strained or pulled a muscle in his leg. He's not
expected to miss next week's game.
Lamar Thomas was battered to the point of being helped off the
field, but is not seriously injured.
This was a difficult game to watch, because it was such a
roller coaster of emotions. First they were down in an ugly way, then
they came back strong but lost the game at the end.
The thing that this game hammered home for me is that the
Dolphins are still a few players away from the top tier of the league.
Perhaps John Avery can develop into more of a playmaker and maybe Larry
Shannon, Yatil Green or some unknown draft choice of the future will
help the passing game out, but right now, the Dolphins lack the kind of
explosiveness that they're going to need to really be dangerous.
That is pretty obvious, of course.
Which is not to say that the Dolphins are without offensive
firepower. I think that the Dolphins' passing game finally appeared
against the Jaguars and may have given opposing defensive coordinators
something more to think about.
And I think that the running game will return. Against a team
like Jacksonville, the Dolphins will not run effectively, but against
the Colts and Bills of the league, the Dolphins will still be able to
run the football and now that the passing game has arrived, that should
help them to win a few football games.
The defense seems to be developing fine and I hope that they
learned their lesson about overpursuing last night. They'll be a
better defense for having played against the Jaguars.
Unlike the Jets' game last week, there is cause for hope after
this defeat. Even though the concept of a "moral victory" is pretty
empty, if there can be such a thing as a good loss, this may be it.
If the team bounces back against the Rams, then they should be
in good shape to take on the Patriots in 2 weeks.