Final Game 10 Observations

Tuesday is the off day in the NFL, the day before preparations begin for the next game. It's also an opportunity to take a final look back at the most recent game, in this case the Dolphins' 17-15 victory over the Oakland Raiders at Dolphin Stadium.

-- It's tempting to immediately look forward to Sunday's showdown against the New England Patriots, but our mandate is one last look at the Oakland game, so we'll stick to that.

-- You almost have to start with the special teams. It's fine and dandy for Coach Tony Sparano to point out the times the Dolphins did contain the Raiders' punt and kickoff returners, but starting the game by giving a 40-yard kickoff return and then allowing a 93-yard punt return ain't doing the job. Sparano has talked before about hidden yardage, and they're losing this battle on special teams way too often.

-- The run defense wasn't going to let Justin Fargas have another monster game like he did last year. There was a time early in the second half when he ran off a few good runs, but he was very well contained for the most part.

-- Having taken care of Fargas, the defense didn't have much trouble with the rest of the Oakland offense. Which, by the way, is absolutely brutal.

-- Another solid effort was turned in by the secondary, which is so much better than early in the season it's not even funny. Will Allen probably had the best day of any defensive back.

-- Cornerback Jason Allen was flagged for a 41-yard pass-interference penalty, but there were two problems with the call. First, it wasn't Allen who made contact with the Raiders receiver, it was safety Yeremiah Bell. More accurately, it was the Raiders receiver who ran into Bell after Bell sprinted in front of him. In other words, it was a bad call.

-- The Dolphins were credited with six sacks in the game, but that total is a misleading. One of the sacks came when Matt Roth forced Darren McFadden out of bounds after McFadden took the snap in the Wildcat formation and sprinted outside at first looking to pass. The truth is McFadden never had anyone to pass to. Another sack was credited after quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo botched a fake handoff, the ball popped loose and the Raiders had to fall on it behind the line of scrimmage.

-- Even without those two, four sacks still is pretty good. Vonnie Holliday and Joey Porter each had 1.5, even though it was Holliday who did most of the work on the sack they shared.

-- On offense, what we saw were a couple of new plays, both of which produced great results. The first was the fake pitch to Ronnie Brown and inside handoff to Patrick Cobbs, which was good for 12 yards in the first quarter and later produced a first down. Another was the end-around to Ted Ginn Jr., which he took to the house for 40 yards and a touchdown. The play showcased terrific open-field running by Ginn, who just might be developing into a game-breaker.

-- In addition to his nice runs, Cobbs also had a couple of big tackles on special teams, including bringing down Justin Miller at the 20-yard line on Dan Carpenter's pooch kickoff after he hit the game-winning field goal.

-- The Dolphins ended up using the Wildcat formation 10 times against the Raiders, with one of the plays nullified after Oakland jumped offside. Maybe it was used that often as the result of Chad Pennington's minor foot injury. Regardless, the nine plays run out of the Wildcat gained 41 yards, an average of 4.6 yards per play. Not great, but not bad either.

-- OK, we're done with Oakland. Bring on the Pats.


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