Signs of Progress

The Dolphins were far from perfect Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks, a team that in no way, shape or form resembles the Seattle teams that have been winning the NFC West on a regular basis. In fact, in many respects, there's reason to be disappointed about the way Miami played. But when is the last time we've been able to say that on a day the Dolphins actually won?

That alone tells you how far this Dolphins team has come this season. It also tells you that expecting the Dolphins to come in and blow out any team probably is unrealistic.

The Dolphins are a much better team, no question, but they still have flaws.

For example, we're still looking for somebody other than Joey Porter to provide a consistent pass rush. Porter was very quiet against Seattle -- he was credited with half a sack -- but nobody else really stepped up and that helped mediocre quarterback Seneca Wallace have a better-than-expected day.

The running game amassed 155 yards against Seattle, but it also disappeared for long stretches, which helped the Seahawks get back in the game after Miami took a quick 14-0 lead.

Chad Pennington has had a lot of good performances this season, but this wasn't one of them.

He also could have had a disastrous fumble late in the game, but the ruling on the field was reversed.

The truth is the game should have been clinched on the play before that, but Greg Camarillo failed to turn upfield after catching a pass when doing so easily would have gotten him the first down.

Instead, the Dolphins were faced with a third-and-2, which they couldn't convert.

There also were some mental mistakes made, the most glaring coming when failure to line up properly forced the Dolphins to use a timeout late in the first half. That lost timeout became big when the Dolphins couldn't spike the ball in time to try a field goal attempt after Pennington connected with Davone Bess to the Seattle 29-yard line.

The whole game had a strange feel to it. The Dolphins scored touchdowns on their first two possessions, led 14-0, and it seemed as though we would have that rare Miami blowout.

But Pennington made a horrible throw into coverage under pressure in the second quarter, and the result was an interception return for a touchdown that made the score 14-7 and totally changed the game.

From then until the Dolphins' brilliant fourth-quarter touchdown drive, the Dolphins looked totally out of sync.

Shoot, they looked like the Dolphins of last year, both on offense and defense, as suddenly Seattle started having success with its running game.

But the difference between this year's Dolphins and last year's, as Camarillo pointed out earlier this week, is that this year's edition found a way to this game.

It wasn't pretty and it certainly was more difficult than maybe it should have been, but it nonetheless was a victory for the Dolphins.

With it, the Dolphins are at 5-4 with an even worse team, Oakland, coming to Miami next weekend. And Miami tied Buffalo for third in the AFC East, still only one game behind the division lead, shared by New England and the Jets at 6-3.

That's the most important thing, not the fact Sunday's victory wasn't the major statement many would have liked.


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