Dan Carpenter: 13-15 FG’s, Long 53
Brandon Fields: 42.0 yard average, 12 IN20, Long 68, 2 punts blocked
Davone Bess: 7 returns, 13.0 yard average, Long 18
Patrick Cobbs: 10 returns, 20.9 yard average, Long 30
Nolan Carroll: 9 returns, 24.3 yard average, Long 37
Punt Coverage: 13 returns, 4.7 yard average, Long 19
Kick Coverage: 20 returns, 30.1 yard average, Long 103, 1 TD
Mike Nugent: 14-16 FG’s, Long 54
Kevin Huber: 44.5 yard average, 11 IN20, Long 73
Quan Cosby: 9 returns, 6.0 yard average, Long 10
Adam Jones: 5 returns, 6.6 yard average, Long 27
Benard Scott: 13 returns, 20.2 yard average, Long 60
Adam Jones: 7 returns, 19.1 yard average, Long 29
Punt Coverage: 8 returns, 6.5 yard average, Long 20
Kick Coverage: 25 returns, 28.9 yard average, Long 97, 1 TD
After the Steelers fumbled the opening kickoff and the Dolphins conclusively recovered, it appeared the special-teams woes were officially in the rear view mirror. The Dolphins went on to cover several other kicks well, but conceded 37 and 48-yard returns to Pittsburgh’s Emmanuel Sanders, who went on to be named AFC Special-teams player of the week.
Both returns set up Steeler scores, and both killed momentum the Dolphins were beginning to build. We’ve seen how well the kickoff unit can cover kicks, now it’s just time to see it consistently. And by consistently I mean every single time.
On the bright side, we didn’t see any blocked punts or kicks, and Dan Carpenter was once again ol’ reliable, nailing all five of his field-goal attempts. Sure, we want to see more touchdowns, but it’s comforting to know Carpenter is almost a guaranteed three points if the offense happens to sputter.
Against the Bengals this week, the Dolphins will actually be facing a unit that has been almost as bad covering kicks. Cincinnati is nearly allowing 30 yards per kick return themselves, and have also had one taken back to the house.
Dolphins’ kick returner Nolan Carroll has showcased some potential returning kicks and has very nearly broken off a few big returns. Too bad he’s banged up and has missed the whole week of practice, though, because this Bengals coverage unit may have been the first victim of a big Carroll return.
Patrick Cobbs will fill in admirably, though, but won’t be much of a threat to take one the distance because of lack of breakaway speed. He will hit the whole hard and possibly set the Dolphins up with solid field position, however.
In my humble opinion, the Dolphins are a better team than the Bengals right now, and should be the favorite to come out with another close win on the road. That would change in a hurry, though, if the Dolphins happen to make another costly mistake in the kicking game.