Now The Fun Begins

We find ourselves on another early Sunday evening trying to dissect another Dolphins victory with the feeling they were lucky to come out on top. Those two games against Seattle and Oakland were victories, but they certainly were not totally satisfying. They also left question marks as the Dolphins prepare for the showdown against the New England Patriots.

The biggest, of course, involves the special teams and the inability to avoid giving up big plays and/or committing costly penalties.

The Oakland game almost turned into a disaster because of a 93-yard punt return for a touchdown by the Raiders' Johnnie Lee Higgins. To show you how bad things have been, this is the first time the Dolphins have given up two punt returns for touchdowns in the same season -- remember the one against Houston?

The Dolphins were able to withstand the return against Oakland, but not against Houston, and they certainly won't against New England.

Offensively and defensively, it's tough to complain too much about what the Dolphins did against Oakland because they outgained the Raiders 382-186.

The Dolphins were particularly efficient in the running game, with 226 yards, the team's highest total since the 2002 finale at New England.

But those 382 total yards should have produced more than 17 points.

Again, we're getting picky here. After all, weren't the Dolphins 1-15 last season. We need to be happy about where they are, which is in the thick of the playoff race in the AFC.

We also should look at the positives in this game. And there were a few.

You have to start with running back Patrick Cobbs, who did it all for the Dolphins -- scoring a touchdown, catching three passes, making big special teams tackles.

Then you had Vonnie Holliday, who continues his fine at along the defensive line and had 1.5 sacks.

And Dan Carpenter, who hit the game-winning field goal when a miss would have led to some major second-guessing about the decision to keep him instead of veteran Jay Feely.

You also have to look at the fine work of Ted Ginn Jr., who not only had a great 40-yard run for a touchdown, but a couple of key catches, none bigger than his 7-yard reception on fourth-and-5 on the last drive.

The truth is we just wish this game hadn't come down to a do-or-die fourth-down situation. And it probably shouldn't have.

Then again, nobody ever said these Dolphins were a juggernaut. But they still have a 6-4 record, and just remember the famous words of Bill Parcells: "You are what your record says you are."


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