Final Game 6 Observations

The Dolphins improved to 3-0 on the road for the first time since 2003 with their overtime victory at Green Bay at Sunday. They face another tough task this weekend when they play host to the Pittsburgh Steelers, but before we turn our attention to that game we'll take one final look at the Packers game.

Sure, that was a short-handed Green Bay team that the Dolphins beat, but that was an impressive road victory nonetheless.

-- The special teams got a lot of attention after the loss to New England, and rightfully so, but there were a lot of things done right at Lambeau Field. Of course, Dan Carpenter's game-winning field goal is the thing that's going to stand out, but the coverage teams were excellent, Nolan Carroll had a couple of nice kickoff returns, and Davone Bess again did a good job on punt returns.

-- Of course, not everything was perfect because Brandon Fields had a punt partially blocked and a holding penalty on Lydon Murtha turned a 43-yard field goal attempt into one from 53 yards out. Carpenter bailed out Murtha by making the 53-yarder, and it actually had more room to spare than the 43-yarder, which Carpenter said he undercut a bit.

-- The second we found out Ed Hochuli was officiating the game, you just knew there were going to be problems, and there were. For instance, how bad was the spot the Dolphins got on Ronnie Brown's fourth-and-1 run? What it made it worse is the Dolphins challenging and the call sticking when replays seemed to show Brown got the first down — and easily.

Then there was the Jason Allen interception, where he went down catching the ball without anybody touching him. Yet he was ruled down by contact and the whistle was blown, therefore denying him a lot of yardage on a return.

Of course, the Dolphins also caught a break on their fourth-quarter touchdown drive with that much-delayed call on Green Bay for an illegal formation. The rule states that the defender opposite the snapper in punt formation has to line up outside the snapper's shoulders or be at least 1 yard off the line of scrimmage. Saw one replay showing Robert Francois clearly at least a yard away from John Denney, which would make it a bad call.

Bottom line is that bad calls went both ways.

-- Offensively, Chad Henne had a typical Chad Henne game of late, meaning he made some really impressive throws and he made some bad ones, where he either threw behind the receiver or took too long to get the ball to his intended target. One of those came on Brandon Marshall's apparent touchdown in the first half when Marshall got open but the ball didn't get to him until he was near the back of the end zone. In fairness to Henne, though, Marshall didn't do a great job on that play of getting his feet in.

-- Then again, we're not going to rag too much on Marshall because he was simply dominant.

-- The offensive line also was very good. Sure, the Packers were playing without Clay Matthews, but the fact remains that Henne didn't face much pressure throughout the game.

-- Defensively, obviously the big story was the work of Cameron Wake, who continues to establish himself game after game as a big-time pass rusher.

-- Great to see Channing Crowder back in the starting lineup. He actually made a couple of good plays, particularly when he fought off a blocker to tackle Brandon Jackson after a 2-yard gain on a short swing pass. If not for Crowder, that play would have gone for 12-15 yards.

-- Vontae Davis had his first tough game of the season, with the obvious play being the 86-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to Greg Jennings. Davis also had the coverage when Jennings converted a fourth-and-7 on Green Bay's last touchdown drive. But Davis kept a smile on his face after the game, saying cornerbacks are going to get beat and how you respond is the key. Another factor is we don't know the defenses the Dolphins were in on those two plays. On the long touchdown, for example, we're thinking Davis should have had deep help. But Davis wasn't about to blame anybody but himself, which is one more thing to like about him.

-- On the subject of young defensive backs, Chris Clemons has by all accounts done a solid job at free safety, but he also hasn't made a big play since the opener at Buffalo. As Coach Tony Sparano is fond of saying, it would be nice to start feeling him a little bit.

-- OK, now it's on to Pittsburgh, which just might be the best team in the league. If the Dolphins can find a way to win that game, stamp them as legitimate contenders in the AFC.


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