REPORT CARD

Here's a look at how every unit on the Dolphins performed in the 19-13 overtime loss to the New England Patriots.

QUARTERBACK — Jay Fiedler continues to have a mediocre season, and it was no different against New England. He threw two interceptions on Sunday, although it's totally unfair to point to his overtime pick as a major factor in the loss. It was a third-down play, Fiedler escaped a sack and it turned into the equivalent of a 37-yard punt. But the problem is that Fiedler still appears incapable of hitting passes deep downfield, the one exception against New England being a long pass to Derrius Thompson in overtime. Grade: C-

RUNNING BACKS — Ricky Williams again was the focus of the opposing defense and he had to fight hard for his yards. He had a couple of nice runs, but also appeared very hesitant on a couple of runs. At this point, he doesn't look to be running as well as he did last year, but a lot of that is because the offensive line just isn't playing very well. Obafemi Ayanbadejo started at fullback in place of the injured Rob Konrad and did a nice job in the passing game. The Dolphins again neglected to use Travis Minor, and maybe, just maybe, he should be used as a change of pace from time to time. Grade: C+

RECEIVERS — Even though it shouldn't have been allowed, Thompson's overtime catch where he jumped over the Pats defensive back was simply awesome. He had a big game, by far his best in a Dolphins uniform. Tight end Randy McMichael also had a big game and showed what a difference-maker he can be. Chris Chambers had a nifty touchdown catch on a nice pass by Fiedler, but he also made a dumb, dumb play in the first quarter when he put the ball away from his body to try to gain extra yardage and wound up losing a fumble. James McKnight also lost the ball on his only reception of the game, but he got lucky when the ball went out of bounds before the Pats could recover it. Grade: B-

OFFENSIVE LINE — Same old story for the offensive line, which is keeping this Dolphins offense from doing a whole lot. For the second consecutive game, the Dolphins did away with the rotation of Tim Ruddy and Seth McKinney at center, with Ruddy going all the way. It looked like just about everybody on the line got beat at one time or another. The bottom line is the Dolphins offensive line simply isn't playing well enough right now, and Sunday was no different. Grade: D

DEFENSIVE LINE — The Dolphins continue to do a great job with their run defense, and a lot of the credit has to go to the big guys up front. But the pass rush against New England was way too inconsistent. On the game-winning touchdown, for example, Troy Brown doesn't get behind the secondary if Tom Brady doesn't have so much time to wait for the play to develop. Jason Taylor had a sack in overtime and forced a fumble, but it bounced right back to Brady. That could have been a game-deciding play. That was the only time Taylor's name was heard. Adewale Ogunleye also was pretty quiet after a couple of really good games. Both Larry Chester and Jay Williams had fumble recoveries. Grade: B-

LINEBACKERS — Zach Thomas was awesome against New England, with a bunch of tackles and a couple of big plays in the Patriots backfield. Junior Seau returned to action against New England, but he didn't do much to distinguish himself, regardless of how many tackles he was credited with. Morlon Greenwood had one big play, but generally was pretty quiet. Grade: C+

SECONDARY — The Dolphins defensive backs again played pretty well, even though they weren't quite as dominant as the previous couple of weeks. Sammy Knight was beaten by Troy Brown deep on the game-winning score, but the blame on that play belongs more to the defensive line allowing such a slow-developing play. Brock Marion forced the Kevin Faulk fumble that Chester recovered in the first quarter. Safety Arturo Freeman appeared to let David Patten race right by him on New England's game-tying touchdown in the third quarter. Terrell Buckley had a huge play when he dropped Faulk for a 7-yard loss from midfield late in regulation and ended the Patriots' scoring threat. Patrick Surtain and Sam Madison were solid, although they gave up quick throws to the Patriots by playing too far off the ball at times. Grade: C+

SPECIAL TEAMS — It doesn't matter what anybody else did (whether it's the kick coverage, Charlie Rogers' one or two decent returns or Matt Turk's good punt in the first quarter), what this game came down to was Olindo Mare missed two opportunities to win the game with 35-yard field goal attempts. Regardless of the fact he was kicking from the dirt infield, he's simply got to make those. The first attempt was blocked partly because the ball didn't get up quickly enough. Mare simply missed the second one when he pushed it wide right. Grade: F


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