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Dolphins vs Pats Short Summary
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Last Update:
Unfortunately for those of us who cheer for the Miami Dolphins, they proved tonight that while they are improving gradually, they are not yet quite good enough to pull ahead of the other teams in the AFC East and stand alone on top of it. In another nail-biter of a game, the Dolphins lost 26-23 to the Patriots on a touchdown pass from Drew Bledsoe to Shawn Jefferson with just 29 seconds remaining.

It was a great game if you like close contests with lots of hard-nosed football, good hitting and some intense action. It was disappointing if you are a Dolphins fan and had hoped, as I had, that the Dolphins might actually make a statement tonight about how good they were and how they were not going to lose to a good team on the road.

It was not a great game if you like to see teams run the football or sack the quarterback. Bledsoe was sacked only once tonight and Marino was not sacked at all. Neither team could run the ball at all and that limited their ability to control the tempo of the game.

On the other hand, both teams discovered their missing passing that had been dormant for much of this year. Terry Glenn returned for the Patriots and while he didn't score a touchdown, he was very effective in stretching the defense. For the Dolphins, Oronde Gadsden caught 2 touchdown passes and Dan Marino passed for over 300 yards of offense, while Drew Bledsoe had over 400 yards passing.

It's a shame that, in a game like this, one team has to lose, because both teams played their hearts out and hung in there until the bitter end. Both teams wanted this game very badly, but it was ultimately the Patriots' talent - especially Drew Bledsoe - that put them over the top.

If you are one of those people who needs someone or something to blame for losses like this, you can blame the Dolphins' lack of a strong running game and the absence of a dominating pass rusher. The Dolphins still can't run on strong defenses and they don't have a pass rusher who can strike fear into the hearts of opposing offenses and who really comes on strong in critical situations. Perhaps Lorenzo Bromell will develop into that person - he had the only sack on either team tonight - but no one else on the Dolphins' defensive line has consistently been in the quarterbacks' face all year.

The Dolphins lost this game tonight because they made one crucial play less than the Patriots did. You can pick the play you like, but when it was all over, this was a game decided in inches and by playmakers and the Dolphins just didn't quite get there. And the reason they didn't quite get there is that they don't yet have all the players they need to be a championship team.

A word about the officiating - while the officiating didn't cost either team the game, it was appallingly bad. The way the referees are calling (or not calling) pass interference is getting to be ludicrous. The NFL must get the referees to start doing their job better and calling pass interference in a consistent, reasonable manner, on both the offense and the defense. How many times did you look at a call that was either made or not made tonight and shake your head in disbelief.

OK, I'm off my soapbox. I will try to find it in my heart to put together a full summary on Tuesday, but if it doesn't show up, I'll hope you'll understand. I said before the game that their performance tonight would show us where they stand and I'm afraid that I was right. While the Dolphins are definitely improving, they are still not quite at a championship level yet.


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Curt Fennell
DOLFAN in New England