ONE LAST LOOK

There were a lot of things that didn't go according to plan Saturday afternoon at Minnesota. Before we take a two-day break for the Christmas holiday, we take a final look at the loss at Minnesota and offer some observations.

-- Coach Dave Wannstedt was livid over the personal foul penalty taken by rookie tight end Randy McMichael, who said Vikings defensive tackle Chris Hovan spit in his face. Wannstedt is right.

As low a gesture as spitting in one's face is, McMichael — just like Patrick Surtain at Buffalo — should have let the officials take care of it. If no call is made, then you just have to deal with it.

Yes, that sounds easier said than done. But McMichael's retaliation won't change Hovan, who by the way denied the accusation. All McMichael did was cost the Dolphins 15 yards.

Sadly, the Dolphins aren't good enough to be giving away 15 yards like that.

-- We wondered here at times why Shawn Wooden wasn't used at safety instead of Arturo Freeman, who has had a very uneven first year as a starter.

The 60-yard completion to Randy Moss on a third-and-14 made us realize why Wooden hasn't played more. That was just atrocious safety play, pure and simple.

Wooden has deep coverage on the play, and he let Moss simply run by him after Moss made a quick fake of an out move. Sure, Jamar Fletcher could have done a better job of jamming Moss at the line of scrimmage, but that one was on Wooden.

-- The Dolphins receiving corps needs some help. James McKnight has come on of late, but ball security is too much of an issue with him, whether it be catching the ball or hanging on to it when he's running after the catch.

And Dedric Ward isn't nearly enough of a playmaker to be dropping short third-down passes, like he did at Minnesota.

-- Zach Thomas may be a tremendous player who makes a lot of tackles, but he didn't do anything to change the course of the game against Minnesota.

We said last week Thomas hasn't had a Pro Bowl season, and he did nothing in the Minnesota game to change our minds.

-- The Dolphins special teams usually are solid, but isn't it about time for a big play in the kicking game?

The Dolphins haven't blocked a punt or a field goal since the early 1980s, they haven't had a kickoff return for a touchdown since 1989 and they have had one punt return for a score since 1993.

That just won't cut it, especially when you see guys getting two or three touchdowns a season by themselves.


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