Savoring the Win: Dolphins Battle Through Injuries, Earn First Home Win of the Season

This post has been intended to savor the sweat taste of victory in weeks past. Don’t get me wrong, this win feels great considering the Dolphins likely just saved their season, but wow, did the injury bug bite hard yesterday. When is the last time you saw a team lose their starting quarterback and backup in the same game? Yes, the Dolphins are blessed to have arguably the best number three quarterback in football, but one good drive doesn’t mean Tyler Thigpen is the savior by any means.

Even more troubling has been Jake Long’s, the best left tackle in the business, uncertain status. Some rumors were flying around the web last night that Jake could be lost for the season. Hopefully those reports never materialize into anything but rumors, because if the Dolphins can’t run the ball or protect their new starting quarterback, I just don’t see how a playoff run could be in the cards this season.

To make matters worse, I’ve yet to mention that this defense’s only true pass rusher, Cameron Wake, could also miss significant time. Wake reportedly hurt his hip sometime in the second-half and went on a little trip back to the X-ray room. Wake assured reporters in the locker room that he is fine, but his status for Thursday night is still up in the air. Without any pass rushing threat, I’m not sure this defense can last one game without Wake, at least not when one loss is all it could take to end the Dolphins’ season in this heated AFC playoff race.

I will avoid any more speculation on the injuries, though, until we get updated later on today. There is still a game to talk about after all. A game in which the Dolphins kept their playoff hopes alive by beating a playoff caliber team by two scores.

Outside of Chris Johnson doing some damage by reaching the century mark on the ground, the defense had one of their better performances of the season. The Titans really don’t have a very good passing attack, but the Dolphins’ pass defense was close to dominate. They held Kerry Collins and Vince Young to under 150 yards through the air and under 50% completion percentage. Throw in Reshad Jones’ pick in the fourth quarter and Vince Young’s fumble in the third, and the Dolphins’ secondary and pass rush had one of their better games of the season.

On offense, it may have took three quarterbacks, well five if you count Ronnie Brown running the wildcat and Brandon Marshall’s chuck downfield and his frustrated throw to the sideline, but the Dolphins found a way to produce their highest point total of the season. Chad Henne bounced back in a big way after his short lived benching, but unfortunately suffered that likely season ending knee injury. The offense didn’t miss a beat with Tyler Thigpen thrown into the lineup, though, even if the momentum was bridged by a couple of unlikely big wildcat plays.

I’ve always had a high opinion of Thigpen after seeing what he was capable of in Kansas City and against the Steelers in Week 17 last year, and truth be told, many were even speculating that the Dolphins would try to turn over the long-term keys to Thigpen after Pennington’s second stint as the starter. His opportunity has come earlier than expected, but nevertheless, if he can play great football down the stretch of the season and lead the Dolphins into the playoffs, this could very well be his job to keep.

There’s no denying that he could use a little help from the running game, though. How exactly do you explain 15 carries for 17 yards before the big wildcat gainers? Maybe I could understand that type of stat line against a dominate front seven like the Steelers, but do that against the Titans, and it’s clear that you aren’t very good at running the football. Quite the falloff from a year ago for this Dolphins’ running game.

I do expect to see more of the wildcat after yesterday, and maybe Dan Henning should consider more of a spread offense type running attack because it’s obvious that the Dolphins don’t have the offensive line to lineup and run the ball down people’s throats.

But a win is a win, I guess. You usually take wins anyway you can get them in this league, but you have to wonder if all those injuries will end the Dolphins’ playoff hopes.

Fab Five Fins

Anthony Fasano: We expected Fasano to return to his 08’ form with Pennington back under center. Even when CP10 went down for possibly the last time in his career, Fasano put up five receptions for 107 yards and the game sealing touchdown. Brian

Hartline: Hartline has continued to emerge as a quality starting number two, and has really stepped his game ever since the Dolphins declined to put in a waiver claim for Randy Moss.

Yeremiah Bell: Led the Dolphins with eight tackles and made arguably the play of the game when he sacked and stripped Vince Young in the third quarter.

Karlos Dansby: Contributed eight tackles and forced the fumble on the Titans’ opening drive that led to the Dolphins’ first touchdown.

Chad Henne: It’s a shame he got hurt, because he was in the midst of one of his best games of the season.

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