In both instances, what beat the Dolphins were breakdowns in the secondary. Against the Jets, that resulted in a touchdown bomb to Jerricho Cotchery and a fourth-down prayer to Chansi Stuckey while Brett Favre was in the process of getting tackled. Against the Cardinals, it resulted of completions of 79 yards to Anquan Boldin and 75 yards to Larry Fitzgerald. The Dolphins were inept offensively in both games, with both the Jets and Cardinals rendering the Miami running game ineffectiveness.
But the Dolphins had a lot more success passing the ball against the Jets, particularly taking advantage of tight ends Anthony Fasano and David Martin, who caught Chad Pennington's two touchdown passes on opening day. Against Arizona, the Dolphins did nothing in the passing game until rookie Chad Henne came in late in the game at a time when the score was 31-3.
Both opponents dominated the line of scrimmage (on both sides) against Miami, but it looked like the Jets might have a better pass rush. On the flip side, the Jets ran the ball much more effectively against the Dolphins than did the Cardinals, who were content to just pick apart the secondary.
The margin of defeat against the Jets was only six points, as opposed to 21 in the loss at Arizona, but it must be factored in that the Jets game was in Miami. What really stood out in the Jets game was that the Dolphins actually had a chance to win at the end despite being outplayed the whole time. This was a game the Jets really should have won comfortably instead of having to rely on an end-zone interception to finally clinch it.
Against Arizona, the Dolphins were never in it. Never. It looked like a Super Bowl contender spanking a team heading for a high draft pick.
If this game were being played in Arizona or at a neutral site, I would make the Cardinals a heavy favorite. But the truth is Arizona has been an awful road team in recent years. Still, this just might be a different Cardinals team and they were able to win their opener at San Francisco.
In looking at both teams, I see the Jets having a tough time matching up with Boldin and Fitzgerald, and I'm not sure the Jets offense we saw in Miami is productive enough to match Arizona score for score.
The two bombs that really ended the Miami-Arizona game barely after it started were the results of two mistakes — one mental and one physical.
Before Arizona even took a snap offensively, they had committed two pre-snap penalties, so their first play was a first-and-20. But the Dolphins let Anquan Boldin run right past linebacker Akin Ayodele on the play because of a mix-up in coverage. The culprit was Chris Crocker, who was replaced in the starting lineup by Renaldo Hill against New England the following week.
On the 75-yard pass to Larry Fitzgerald, he simply jumped in front of cornerback Will Allen to catch a Kurt Warner pass near the sideline. The problem came when Allen let him slip away from him and Crocker -- him again -- took a bad angle on the play and also let Fitzgerald get by him. By the time Allen finally tackled Fitzgerald from behind, he had turned a 25-yard gain into a 75-yard pick-up.