Close But Not Quite

The Dolphins closed out their disappointing 2006 season with another loss Sunday at Indianapolis, but they certainly went down fighting in their 27-22 setback against the Colts. In fact, they had a chance to pull out the victory on a last-play Hail Mary that sailed through the end zone.

The Dolphins made a valiant comeback effort in the fourth quarter after the Colts took a 27-15 lead on a touchdown pass from Peyton Manning to Marvin Harrison.

The Dolphins actually played pretty evenly against the Colts, except they couldn't produce in the red zone.

The Dolphins had to settle for five Olindo Mare field goals, which is what kept them playing from behind the whole day.

In his first NFL start, Cleo Lemon did a lot of good things, completing 18 of 36 passes for 210 yards with a touchdown pass to Randy McMichael in the fourth quarter and one interception late in the first half.

The Dolphins also ran the ball well, with Ronnie Brown gaining 115 yards on 21 carries to go over the 1,000-yard mark for the season. Brown's 47-yard run in the third quarter set up one of Mare's field goals.

Mare was 5-for-5 on his field goal attempts and also had a big day on his kickoffs.

The defense gave up 399 total yards, but came up with a big play in the fourth quarter when Jason Taylor recovered a Joseph Addai fumble to set up McMichael's touchdown.

The Dolphins defense stopped Indy one last time to give Lemon a final shot from his own 20 with 1:03 left and no timeouts.

A 24-yard completion to McMichael moved the ball to the Indy 43-yard line, but after a spike there only was seven seconds left.

The loss completed a 6-10 season for the Dolphins, only the franchise's second losing season since 1988, only its third since 1976 and only its fourth since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.

It also dropped Nick Saban's two-year record as Dophins head coach to 15-17.

But this was a game the Dolphins were expected to lose, and a lot more decisively than they did. That they put forth the kind of effort they did was commendable.

But the end result -- as well as the final record -- indicates the team has a lot of work to do now that its offseason has begun.


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