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The Dolphins recorded their second shutout of the year today as
they beat the St. Louis Rams 14-0 in Miami. The short story of this
game is that the Dolphins' defense smothered the Rams offense and the
Dolphins rediscovered their running game, gaining over 140 yards on the
ground. Overall, it looked a lot like the Steelers game a few weeks
ago, except that they managed to avoid the rain today.
Klaus Wilmsmeyer did play today for the Dolphins, as did Sam
Madison and Calvin Jackson. Horace Copeland was designated inactive
for the game, along with Ron Moore, Brent Smith, Mike Sheldon, Danny
Stubbs, Anthony Harris and Hendrick Lusk.
The weather was clear and warm, around 85 degrees at gametime.
There was a brisk wind, from 15 to almost 30 mph, although that did not
seem to be a factor in the game.
The game started with the Dolphins receiving the opening
kickoff, which John Avery took in the endzone for a touchback.
Starting at their 20, OJ McDuffie dropped the first pass of the day,
but a couple of decent runs by Karim and a short pass to McDuffie moved
the ball out to the Dolphins' 45. However, after a short run by
Karim, Gadsden couldn't hold on to a very high pass and on third down,
Ed Perry was hit just as the ball arrived and couldn't hold on.
Klaus Wilmsmeyer punted for the Dolphins to the Rams and after
the ball bounced down inside the 10 yard line, Nate Jacquet managed to
get his hands on it and downed it at the two. Starting at their 2, the
Rams got 5 yards in two carries by Holcombe, but Jason Taylor deflected
a pass on third down and the Rams punted from their own 8 to McDuffie,
who took the ball at the 50 and returned it to the Rams' 35.
At this point, the Dolphins were in excellent position, and a 15
yard run on first down by Avery put the Dolphins down to the Rams' 21.
From there, on first down, Marino attempted to go to the endzone on a
deep crossing route. Unfortunately, the receiver was double covered and
the ball was intercepted by a Rams' safety who had stationed himself on
the goal line. He ran the interception back to the Rams' 25, where he
was tackled by Drayton.
` The Rams started from their 25 when Banks was forced to
scramble for four yards. On this drive, Isaac Bruce would catch two
passes for 14 yards and Holcombe would run twice for 2 yards, but a
false start penalty would take away 5 yards. This then left the Rams
with a 3rd and 6 from their 40. On this play, Banks couldn't find
anybody open and held the ball long enough that Lorenzo Bromell would
get around his man and sack Banks. From what I could see, Bromell,
Armstrong and Mixon all arrived at Banks about the same time, but
Bromell got the credit for the sack. Armstrong and Mixon would get
credit for sacks later in the game.
The Rams punted to T-Buck at the 17, and he returned it to the
28, where Marino started this drive with a 14 yard pass to Drayton.
Then a 6 yard run by Avery and a 5 yard pass to McDuffie moved the ball
to the Rams 47. However, after a pass to Pritchett was slightly
overthrown, Avery slipped on the grass and fell down for a 4 yard loss
on 2nd down. Then, on third down, James Brown had a false start
penalty called on him and the Dolphins now faced 3rd and 19 at their
44. Marino tried to hit Perry on a deep slant, but the linebacker on
that side had Perry well covered and even got both hands on the ball,
but couldn't hold on.
Wilmsmeyer punted to the Rams' Eddie Kinnison, who took the
ball at the 10 and returned it to the 15, where newcomer Todd Doxzon
hit him and forced the ball out. The Rams recovered the fumble,
however and started from their 19 trying a deep pass to JT Thomas,
which was overthrown, but Terrell Buckley was called for illegal
contact on the play and the Rams got a 1st and 10 at their 24, where
Amp Lee ran for 8 yards on first down to their 32. At this point, the
first quarter ended with no score.
At this point in the game, I was asking myself why the Dolphins
weren't running more than they were. So far, their running seemed very
effective, but the Dolphins had only run 6 times and had called 10 pass
The second quarter opened with Robert Jones and Zach Thomas
apparently getting Holcombe for a loss of 4 yards, but Jones was
penalized for grabbing the facemask and that moved the Rams out to
their 43, where Banks hit Bruce for 8 yards on first down to the Miami
49. On second down, Gardener stacked up Holcombe for a yard loss and
Jason Taylor batted down a pass on third down to force the Rams to
The punt bounced into the endzone and the Dolphins started on
their 20. From there I got my wish as Karim ran 3 times, but he could
only gain 9 yards and so the Dolphins punted back to the Rams, who
started at their 26 after Kinnison returned the ball 3 yards. On first
down, Banks again couldn't find anyone open and Derrick Rodgers got a
coverage sack while coming on the blitz. After a short gain by
Holcombe, the Rams were penalized twice in a row for false starts and
faced a 3rd and 22 at their 14. Banks did find Isaac Bruce for 19 yards
in the right flat, but Brock Marion took him down 3 yards shy of the
first down and the Rams punted again.
Terrell Buckley took the ball at the Dolphins' 7 and tip-toed
up the sideline to the 19, where Miami took over. Avery ran twice for
4 and then 2 yards, but Perry was penalized for a false start on 3rd
and 4 and then on 3rd and 9, Marino couldn't get the ball to Oronde
Gadsden and the Dolphins were forced to punt.
The punt was taken by Kinnison and he made what appeared to be
a very long return, dodging in and out along the sideline all the way
from the Rams' 23 to the Dolphins' 15 yard line. However, two Rams'
players were called for holding on that play and the ball was brought
back to the Rams' 23. A 3 yard draw to Amp Lee was followed by a short
pass to the tight end, but Buckley was penalized for defensive holding
and that gave the Rams an automatic first down at their 31.
Shane Burton batted down Banks' pass on first down and after
Amp Lee got 5 yards up the middle on second down, Banks dropped back
to pass on third down, but Trace Armstrong got around his man and took
Banks down for a sack. The Rams punted away on 4th down from their 35
and T-Buck took the ball at the Dolphins 23 and jinked and zig-zagged
his way up the field to the Rams 46, giving the Dolphins excellent
Now, with 3:18 left in the first half, the Dolphins started at
the Rams' 46 and a crossing pass to Lamar Thomas plus a 5 yard run by
Karim moved the ball to the Rams 33. Then, Marino hit Thomas for 11
more yards down to the 22 for a first down as the 2 minute warning
The first play after the two minute warning sounded was the
short swing pass to Karim, which he dropped after it hit him right in
the hands. However, Marino then hit Drayton twice in succession for
short gains of 5 and 7 yards respectively and that left the Dolphins
with a first and goal at the 10 yard line.
Now, with 1:03 remaining in the first half, Marino's first pass
to Drayton was a little high. Karim redeemed himself by catching
Marino's next pass at the 3, but was taken down there and on third and
goal, Dan tried to hit Lamar Thomas in the endzone, but the ball went
wide. However, the Rams were penalized for pass interference on the
play as two of their defensive backs had knocked down Thomas before the
ball got there.
This gave the Dolphins a first and goal at the one.
Unfortunately, at this point, there were only 22 seconds left and the
Dolphins only had 1 timeout remaining. The ran Karim on first down, but
he was stuffed and the Dolphins called their last timeout. On second
and goal, the Rams came with a big blitz and Marino barely managed to
get the ball off, throwing it away, but in the vicinity of Ed Perry.
Then on third and goal from the 1 with 11 seconds remaining,
Marino dropped back in the pocket and lofted the ball high to the right
corner of the endzone where Oronde Gadsden outjumped the Rams' defensive
back to get his hands on the ball. As he was coming down, the safety
was all over him, but he managed to hold on to the ball for the
touchdown. It was a spectacular leaping grab on a play that I've been
hoping the Dolphins would use to Gadsden a lot this year.
The kickoff was a short kick, which was downed by the Rams at
their 35 and after Banks knelt down once, the first half was over with
the Dolphins leading 7-0. The Dolphins were back to using the formula
for winning that they had used in the first 3 games, which was a
stifling defense, a running game and a conservative offense.
The third quarter opened with the Rams returning the kickoff
from their endzone, only to be taken down by Jerry Wilson at the 12
yard line. On first down at the 12, Tim Bowens jumped offsides, giving
the Rams an easy 5 yards. Then, after Holcombe was stuffed twice for 1
yard, Jason Taylor jumped offsides, giving the Rams a first down at
their 24. And incomplete pass and a short run by Holcombe forced the
Rams into a 3rd and 6 at their 28 and he completed a 10 yard pass to
Proehl, giving them a first down at their 38.
After Amp Lee and Holcombe got a total of 6 yards on 1st and
2nd downs, a pass to Bruce sailed over his head, but Terrell Buckley
was called for holding again and that gave the Rams another first down
at their 49. A short pass and run by Holcombe moved the Rams to a 3rd
and less than 1 at the Miami 42, but the Rams tried to fool the
Dolphins and instead of going for the 1 yards, they tried this big
play. This time, Buckley had good coverage on Bruce and the ball was
overthrown, leaving the Rams with 4th and 1 and they elected to punt.
McDuffie called for a fair catch at the Dolphins' 11 and after
Karim was stuffed twice trying to run, Marino's third down screen pass
to McDuffie only gained 5 yards and the Dolphins punted back to the
Rams, with the punt going out of bounds at the Rams' 48. The Rams
moved down to the Dolphins' 40 on Holcombe's 8 yard run and a short
pass to Holcombe, but at the Dolphins' 40, Banks overthrew Proehl deep
on first down and his second down pass to JT Thomas was dropped. Then
he tried to find Bruce on third down deep down the sideline, but again
the ball was way overthrown and now facing a 4th and 10, the Rams
decided to punt.
The Dolphins started at their 20 after a touchback, but after
Avery gained nothing on first down and Marino was sacked by a blitzing
safety on 2nd down, the Dolphins got 18 yards on a pass to Bernie
Parmalee. Unfortunately, they needed 20 for a first down, so they
punted from their 28. It was a long punt and it was taken by Kinnison
at the 16 and returned to the 27, where the Rams started again.
After a false start moved the Rams back to the 22, Jason Taylor
forced a bad throw on first down with pressure on Banks and Jones and
Bromell stopped Amp Lee cold on 2nd down. However, on 3rd and 15,
Banks rolled to his left and hit Bruce with a 15 yard pass to keep the
drive going. However, after a short pass to their tight end and a very
short run by Holcombe, the Rams were facing a 3rd and 3. On this play,
it was Shane Burton who knocked down Banks' pass at the line of
scrimmage and the Rams were forced to punt once more.
The punt bounced into the endzone and the Dolphins started at
their 20 with a 5 yard run by Karim followed by a 4 yard pass to
Gadsden. At this point, the third quarter ended with the Dolphins
still up 7-0 and having a 3rd and 1 at their own 29.
To open the 4th quarter, Karim ran for a first down to the
Dolphins' 33 with some very good effort. He was hit at the line of
scrimmage and drove forward for 4 yards. From there, Marino badly
under threw McDuffie on first down and on 2nd and 10, he tried to hit
Lamar Thomas deep down the right sideline. Unfortunately for Thomas,
Todd Lyght was on him like a blanket. Fortunately for Thomas, Lyght
got there ahead of the ball and the referee saw it, calling the penalty
on Lyght for defensive pass interference.
This gave the Dolphins a first and 10 at the Rams' 44 and the
Dolphins ran Karim 3 times in a row, gaining 4 yards, 5 yards and then
10 yards down to the Rams' 25. Karim sat down and Avery came in,
rushing for 4 yards and then for 12 yards down to the Rams' 9. On
first and goal at the 9, Karim came back and ran for 6 yards to the 3,
but the play was called back after a holding penalty on Richmond Webb.
Now facing a 1st and goal from the 19, Marino dropped back to
pass, while Avery came out of the backfield to the left and ran down
the sideline, covered well by a linebacker. Marino threw the ball
perfectly and Avery leaped up, making a great catch at about the 2,
where he was hit by the linebacker while crossing the goalline for a
touchdown. This was Avery's first NFL touchdown and it put the
Dolphins' up 14-0 with about 10:30 left to play in the game.
On the kickoff, the ball was kicked short and a Rams linebacker
took it at their 19, returning it to the 29. From there, the Rams began
their best drive of the day, starting with a 12 yard pass to the tight
end. Amp Lee then ran for 9 yards and 3 yards, moving the Rams into
Miami territory at the 47. Pressure on Banks forced him to scramble on
the next play, but he gained 13 yards down to the Miami 34 and added 14
more yards on the play after that with a pass to Bruce, down to the
On 1st and 10 from the 20, Banks overthrew Kennison in the
endzone. Then, on 2nd down, Ricky Proehl came wide open in the back of
the endzone as Terrell Buckley had slipped and fallen in coverage, but
Banks overthrew Proehl. This was probably the straw that broke the
Rams' back, because that would have been a sure touchdown if Banks had
been on target. On 3rd and 10 from the 20, Banks couldn't find anyone
open and Armstrong broke free of his blocker and sacked Banks for a 4
With time running down and the Rams down by 2 touchdowns, they
elected to go for it on 4th and 14 from the Miami 24. Banks dropped
back, lofted the ball to the right sideline and Eddie Kennison caught it
at about the 5 and stepped into the endzone for an apparent touchdown.
However, Kennison had stepped out of bounds before catching the pass and
had come back in and that made him an ineligible receiver. The referees
called the penalty an illegal touch - pass.
At this point, what happened is a little unclear, but it was one
of two things. If the TV announcers are to be believed, the penalty was
a 5 yard penalty and came with a loss of down. Since it had been 4th
down, that would have meant that the Dolphins got the ball and 5 yards.
However, on the play-by-play at NFL.com, it records that Miami
declined the penalty. I believe this is what actually happened because
I don't believe that this penalty comes with a loss of down. I believe
that what happened is that the penalty was called and because Kennison
had gone out of bounds and had come back in, his reception did not count
and was recorded as an incompletion because he was ineligible, which is
the way it appears in the play-by-play. By declining the penalty, the
Dolphins denied the Rams the opportunity to replay 4th down and took
over at the line of scrimmage, which was the 24.
On 1st and 10 from the 24, Karim took the handoff, cut back from
the left to the right, zipped through the secondary out to the sideline
and ran all the way to the endzone for 76 yards and an apparent
touchdown. However a penalty was called on Mark Dixon for holding.
The replay was unclear, but it sure didn't look like holding to me and
I think that Karim got robbed of his best run ever.
Nevertheless, now facing 1st and 20 from their 14, the Dolphins
ran John Avery into the same hole and Avery zigged and zagged, then
turned on the gas and raced 44 yards to the Rams' 42, where he was
unable to avoid the safety. At the 42, Avery took the handoff and
promptly slipped and fell, losing 2 yards. He got 3 yards back on 2nd
down, but when Marino tried to get the ball to Parmalee on 3rd and 9,
the blitz got to him and he was hit at the throw, with the ball falling
During the previous series, the Rams had used all their timeouts
and as the Dolphins punted to the Rams, the Rams had no timeouts
remaining and 5:03 left to play in the game. They started at their 20
after a fair catch was made by Kennison and worked the 2 minute offense.
Two passes to Amp Lee moved the ball from the 20 to the Dolphins' 48,
where a bad snap was recovered by Banks as he scrambled for 4 yards.
However, on 2nd and 6 at the Dolphins' 44, Banks tried to hit Ricky
Proehl on the down and in. Proehl was covered well by Surtain, who took
the inside shot at the ball and came up with the interception, his
second of the year.
The Dolphins ran the ball 3 times from their 30, running 2
minutes off the clock, but gaining only 3 yards. As the 2 minute
warning sounded for the end of the game, the Dolphins now faced a 4th
and 7 from their 33. Wilmsmeyer punted after the 2 minute warning and
the ball bounced down around the Rams' 20, but came back high in the
air towards the Dolphins' end of the field. As it came down, several
Rams players were under it and it hit one of them in the back. Once it
had touched this player, it was a live ball and Bernie Parmalee alertly
recovered it for the Dolphins.
Now, with less than 2 minutes remaining in the game and with
the Rams having no timeouts, the Dolphins were content to let Dan kneel
down 3 times in a row for the 14-0 victory.
Obviously, the defensive effort today was outstanding. There
was constant pressure on Banks all game long and his receivers were
almost never open. At least 2 and probably 3 of the 4 sacks that the
Dolphins got were coverage sacks.
Also, the Rams' running game was shut down and their big play
man Isaac Bruce didn't make any big plays today. He did have a number
of catches, but the Dolphins didn't give up any home runs this week.
In fact, the longest reception by the Rams was 19 yards. The Dolphins
gave up no plays over 20 yards long.
The running game returned today and John Avery was more involved
in the game than he had been, showing his versatility in catching the
touchdown pass and getting that one big 44 yard run, along with several
other nice runs.
Pass protection for Dan was pretty good against a team that was
averaging 4 sacks per game and that had gotten 9 on the Bills several
weeks ago. Dan was only sacked once and usually had plenty of time to
Punt and kickoff coverage were good, with the Dolphins forcing
a fumble on one punt and recovering the inadvertently touched ball on
the final punt in the 4th quarter, which sealed the game.
At the end of the game, the team led in almost every
statistical category, including time of possession.
THINGS TO WORK ON:
The biggest disappointment today was the number of penalties
the Dolphins drew. There were 10 total penalties and while some of
them were the inevitable consequence of the bump-and-run coverage that
the Dolphins play, and I think that the holding penalty on Dixon that
negated Karim's 76 yard run was a bad call, 10 is about 5 too many.
The receivers were having some trouble getting open today and
there were still some dropped passes. If a ball hits a receiver in
the hands, he should catch it.
And while I thought the play selection was pretty balanced, I
would have liked to have seen more running early when it was working.
Dan Marino was only 14 of 26 for 114 yards, but he did throw
two very nice touchdown passes. He had a few errant passes, but he did
what was necessary to win today.
Karim Abdul-Jabbar had 17 carries for 59 yards. which is a 3.5
yard per carry average, and he made some very nice cutbacks and did
some tough running in some tough situations today. He also caught 2
passes for 12 yards, but did drop another that was in his hands.
John Avery's 44 yard run in the 4th quarter was terrific and
that boosted his total to 85 yards on 11 carries for a 7.7 ypc
average. His best day as a Dolphin so far also included a 19 yard
touchdown reception, where he made a very nice leaping catch despite
being pretty well covered.
Stanley Pritchett did some nice blocking, but caught no passes
and didn't carry the ball.
Bernie Parmalee carried the ball once today for no gain, but he
did catch an 18 yard pass.
Troy Drayton led all receivers with 3 catches for 26 yards, but
didn't score this week.
OJ McDuffie also caught 3 passes, but only for a total of 14
yards, with his longest being 5 yards. He also dropped a ball that
was in his hands. He had one punt return for 14 yards in the first
quarter that was very good and he made one fair catch.
Lamar Thomas continues to give maximum effort and although he
didn't score today, he did catch two passes for 20 yards and drew 2
pass interference penalties.
Oronde Gadsden had just 2 catches for a grand total of 5 yards.
However, one of those catches was the terrific leaping grab he made
over the defensive back in the endzone for a touchdown.
Ed Perry played a fair amount today, but didn't catch any
passes even though he had at least two thrown to him. He was not
getting open much today.
On defense, Zach Thomas led the team with 9 total tackles,
although only 3 of those were solo today. He had 3 tackles for
Robert Jones also enjoyed a good day against his former team,
getting 8 tackles and a pass defensed. 4 of Jones' tackles were for
zero or negative yardage.
Brock Marion was 3rd on the tackle list with 5 total.
Tim Bowens had 4 total tackles, but drew that flagrant offsides
penalty at the beginning of the 2nd half. However, he and Gardener
kept stuffing the middle against the run.
Calvin Jackson had 3 solo tackles, but missed a tackle on the
tight end that gave up a first down.
Trace Armstrong regained the lead in the sack race from Jason
Taylor with 2 sacks today. That gives him six sacks on the year and
puts him one ahead of Jason Taylor.
Lorenzo Bromell got 3 tackles today and had a good day
pressuring Tony Banks, getting a sack. That gives him 4 for the year.
Darryl Gardener had 3 tackles today and along with Bowens, he
stuffed the middle against the run well.
Terrell Buckley had a mixed afternoon with 2 tackles while
drawing several defensive interference penalties. He also had some nice
punt returns and ultimately did not give up any big plays.
Jerry Wilson also had 2 tackles and a special teams tackle.
Jason Taylor did not get any sacks today, but he had two
assisted tackles, put pressure on Tony Banks consistently and knocked
down two passes at the line of scrimmage.
Shane Burton had 2 solo tackles and also knocked down 2 passes.
Sam Madison was very quiet today - at least, in the stats. He
had one tackle and no passes defensed, but he also wasn't beaten on any
Kenny Mixon had another good day, getting one solo tackle and
being in good position.
Derrick Rodgers' big moment came when he sacked Tony Banks on a
blitz. Other than that, Rodgers had 1 tackle.
Barron Tanner had one tackle of his own today.
Todd Doxzon entered the lineup as a flyer on punt coverage and
is credited with forcing the fumble by Kennison in the first half and
making a special teams tackle. Being on special teams is the first
step to more playing time.
Larry Izzo had 2 special teams tackles today.
Patrick Surtain only recorded one statistic today - he
intercepted a Tony Banks pass late in the 4th quarter to end the Rams
last drive. That gives him 2 on the year.
Klaus Wilmsmeyer returned and punted pretty well today,
although he's still inconsistent. He averaged 42.1 yards per punt and
put 2 inside the 20.
Olindo Mare' put one kickoff in the endzone for a touchback and
didn't miss any extra points.
There were no significant injuries today, although Stanley
Pritchett was banged up on one play.
Going into this game, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. The
Rams are a dangerous team as they proved with their victories over
Buffalo and the Jets. I wasn't really concerned about a letdown as
much as I was worried about the big plays that hit the Dolphins on
However, the Rams got no big plays today. Some of that is
attributable to the fact that Mark Brunell doesn't play for the Rams,
but some of it is due to the fact that the Dolphins just played better
on defense this week.
And overall, I thought that the team played pretty well today.
I was disappointed with the lack of passing production, but at least I
now know that that is more of a conscious choice by the coaches than
some failure to be able to pass. The Dolphins proved that against the
Jaguars on Monday night.
The running game was inconsistent today, but it was definitely
a threat all game long. Avery finally got the carries he deserved and
made the most of them. And Karim looked good on that 76 yard run.
It's such a shame that it was called back.
The defense, of course, is looking superb and the pass coverage
and pass rush have improved so much since last year that it looks like a
completely different team, even though most of the players are the
This was a good win for the Dolphins today and emphasized the
changed character of the team. Certainly, the defense is much improved
from last year and the offense, while doing things differently than it
did last year, is going to get the job done more often than not. They
are still about 2 playmakers away from being really powerful, but
they're getting a little better each week.
Next up, of course, is the Patriots. At this point in the
season, I think that it's a good thing that the game will be in Miami.
The Dolphins play well there and this game against the Rams will be a
good springboard into next week.