Game observations

Should it really have come as a major surprise that Jason Taylor totally manhandled Oakland tackle Barry Sims on Sunday? He did the same thing the last time these teams had met, a few years back at then-Pro Player Stadium. Taylor's monster game sure did come at a good time, though.

The Dolphins badly needed this game. Not so much for playoff purposes because, regardless of what some fans might think on Monday, the Dolphins still aren't going to the playoffs, but because it was a big step of establishing a foundation for this team.

Also because it might finally end all this overblown talk about Coach Nick Saban's comments, which we're not going to rehash here.

It was the type of performance we've seen from time to time from these Dolphins this season, but not with any consistency, which is what Saban wants.

That's why the talk of playoffs borders on ridiculous.

Come on, now, the Dolphins are 4-7. They beat a mediocre team that's also 4-7.

The Dolphins likely will be favored in three of their last five games, at home against Buffalo, the Jets and Tennessee.

OK, so let's assume they win all those, which is not guarantee, by the way.

That's seven wins. The other two games are at San Diego and at New England.

Now, let's look at the Patriots' schedule. New England, which is 6-5, has two games left against the Jets, a game at Buffalo, a home game against Tampa Bay and the home game against the Dolphins.

Bottom line: It ain't happening. It's really a shame, too, because New England is not a great team this year, yet the Patriots probably are still going to wind up winning the division because no other team has stepped up this season.

But that's besides the point.

The Dolphins aren't going to get there overnight, and in the Oakland game there were too many encouraging signs to dwell on what's not going to happen.

-- Gus Frerotte had a really good game at quarterback, the only mistake being his end-zone interception.

-- Rookie Ronnie Brown again ran the ball well and continues to look like he could become a great one. Of course, he's going to have to work on securing the ball better after losing two fumbles against the Raiders.

-- Ricky Williams also looked good.

-- The offensive line continued its progress. Let's not get carried away here, it's not a dominant unit by any stretch, but the guys up front have played much better in recent weeks and they're allowing the playmakers the opportunity to make plays.

-- The pass rush obviously was splendid, but it wasn't only Taylor who had a big day. Let's not forget about Vonnie Holliday, who like Taylor had three sacks.

-- And finally we need to mention punter Donnie Jones, who had a tremendous game. Shane Lechler is a Pro Bowl punter, but Jones badly outkicked him on Sunday.


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