Final Game 14 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' 14-9 victory over the San Francisco 49ers at Dolphin Stadium.

-- The Dolphins have made a habit in recent weeks of playing nerve-racking games, but they somehow always find a way to win those. And that's the bottom line. It doesn't matter whether is 42-10 or 14-9, they all count the same.

-- That said, the Dolphins keep going into offensive lulls after taking an early lead and at some point an opponent is going to make a big offensive play to win the game.

-- Yes, that was a big-time play Joey Porter made by sacking Shaun Hill on fourth down to clinch the victory, but let's not go overboard about his role in this game. The truth is he did nothing before that play, so it wasn't like he won the game. Just bringing it up because there was an online poll asking for the game MVP and he was among the candidates.

-- The truth is the Dolphins' best players on Sunday were Nathan Jones, Charlie Anderson and, yes, Chad Pennington. That last one is getting redundant.

If you're going to complain about Pennington's low yardage total, don't forget about the four dropped passes. Yes, four. Two by Ronnie Brown, one by Ricky Williams, one by Ted Ginn Jr.

-- This, sadly, has come to be expected from Ginn, who never built on that breakout game he had against Buffalo. Yes, next year will be a make-or-break season for him.

-- Tight end David Martin actually was facing one of those this year after his poor performance in 2007, and he has responded in a big way. That catch he made on his 61-yard touchdown was very impressive.

-- Nice to see Joey Haynos get involved, too. At this stage, he's never going to be an effective blocker because he lacks the bulk, but he's 6-8 and that makes him a great target in the red zone.

-- Interesting to see the Dolphins use Samson Satele at right guard with newcomer Al Johnson at center for a few plays. That ultimately might become the Dolphins' best alternative in the middle of their offensive line.

-- The Wildcat was used only once against San Francisco, the lowest amount since it was unveiled at New England in late September. Regardless, the Dolphins used their running backs in motion a few times against San Fran and it seemed the only time they were able to create running room.

-- Defensively, you have to love what the secondary continues to do. It's amazing how far this unit has come since the last two weeks of the season. Could Renaldo Hill at free safety actually make this much of a difference?

-- The Dolphins' run of three straight games without allowing a touchdown is the best in the NFL since 2000, and it's even more amazing when you consider that this really is not a dominating defense we're looking at.

-- But, like everything else on this team, is has been good enough to get the Dolphins to 9-5.

Still, it would seem the Dolphins will have to pick up their level of play in the last two weeks and the playoffs if they get there. Then again, maybe they can continue to do what they've done, which is simply play just well enough to get the W.


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