Clock Runs Out On Miami Dolphins

By PFC Dolphins Writer Ricky Bartle

 A night after the Emmys, there was a late addition to the supporting  role category; the Indianapolis Colts offense. The Colts offense, which barely broke a sweat in humid Miami, made the most of their camera time, all fifteen minutes of it. That was all the screen time Peyton Manning needed to steal the show from the Miami Dolphins. The Miami Dolphins rolled out the orange carpet for this prime time event at Land Shark Stadium and while the stars were out, they seemed to align for the Colts.

                On a night where the Wildcat worked, where the run game bordered on unstoppable, and where Miami dominated the time of possession, the Dolphins came up a few seconds short of victory. Big plays were what the Dolphins were missing and what the Colts were hitting.  After a touchback on the opening kickoff, Manning dropped back and found a wide open Dallas Clark , who broke one tackle and took the first play from scrimmage to the end zone for an 80 yard touchdown. The Dolphins would answer, only not so quickly, a nine play 75 yard drive was capped off by a 14 yard touchdown run by Ronnie Brown.  After a Colts punt, the Dolphins would put together a 13 play drive that would end with a 45 yard field goal. The Colts would answer with an Adam Vinatieri field goal tying the game at ten. After the Dolphins only punt of the game, the two teams would exchange field goals for a half time score of 13-13.

The Dolphins held the ball for all but 1:18 of the third quarter. The fourth quarter was a different story; the Dolphins would score on another long drive and another Ronnie Brown run. The Colts would answer quickly and the Dolphins would kick the go ahead field goal with 3:50 left in the game. Peyton Manning would then get the ball in a similar situation to his brother Eli, and Peyton would deliver in similar fashion. It would take Peyton thirty two seconds to take the Colts 80 yards down the field for the go ahead score. With the Colts now leading the game 27-23 with 3:18 to go, Manning would walk off the field for the last time, logging 14:53 seconds of action, barely enough to finish the first half of a Jimmy Buffet CD. The Dolphins would have one last chance to win on Monday night, and after 13 plays the Fins would come up short falling to the Colts 27-23.

                The Dolphins did everything but win on Monday night, the game plan was simple by keeping Manning off the field and dominating the ball the Dolphins would score just enough to win the game. But what the Dolphins couldn’t plan for was the efficiency in which the Colts would operate on offense with such limited time. Whether it was shell shock from the quick strike or the rhythm developed over the course of the game, the Dolphins looked lost and confused in their two minute offense, but with seconds left the Dolphins had one last chance to steal a victory from the opportunistic Colts. Chad Pennington heaved a pass to the end zone and Ted Ginn Jr reached into the air looking for his 12 reception and the big play the Dolphins have been waiting for since he was drafted ninth overall in the draft. The ball was dropped and with it an otherwise productive night ended badly. In one play, with less than 30 seconds left in the game, the Dolphins could clearly see what separated them from contenders like the Colts, big play ability. As the ball hit the ground it was clear, the Dolphins could sustain a drive with the Wildcat and a high dose of Ronnie and Ricky.

The Dolphins could hold the ball and convert on third and short with a ten yard out to Bess or Ginn. But when the Dolphins needed a big play, a big catch, or a big stop, it wasn’t there. The Miami Dolphins could nickel and dime you all game long, but at the end of the night wouldn’t have enough money for a bus ride home. While the Colts defense looked winded and exhausted from their 45:06 of time on the field, when the final seconds ticked off the clock it was the Dolphins who showed the anguish of the time disparity. There is no such thing as a moral victory for a team who was minutes away from a real one. At the end of the game, the Dolphins stood at midfield in disbelief that a dominating performance wouldn’t be rewarded. The Dolphins, ironically, will have no time to stop and think about this game, as they enter an extremely tough stretch in their schedule. Adjustments will have to be made to find a way to make the big play. As the drama unfolds for the Miami Dolphins this NFL season, they will need to find their leading man, their scene stealer, their star, and their playmaker.