PASSING OFFENSE: C – Brad Johnson completed 26 of 44 passes for 262 yards, but the quarterback was sacked three times and threw a fourth-quarter interception that defensive end Jason Taylor returned 51 yards for an interception. Johnson has 10 interceptions and only five touchdown passes this season. His completion percentage wasn't helped by the fact that tight end Jermaine Wiggins dropped two passes and receiver Troy Williamson dropped yet another; Williamson's confidence appears completely shot. Receiver Travis Taylor had a team-leading eight catches but that went for only 67 yards. The Vikings' longest pass play went for 25 yards to Bethel Johnson on his sole catch of the day. Minnesota continues to lack any type of consistent vertical threat.
RUSHING OFFENSE: D -- Running back Chester Taylor averaged 2.9 yards on 28 carries and had two critical fourth-quarter fumbles that the Dolphins recovered. The first derailed a Vikings drive at the Miami 33-yard line but did not result in any points. The second, however, was returned for a touchdown by Miami safety Renaldo Hill and turned a 13-10 deficit into a 17-13 lead for the Dolphins. Taylor's longest run of the afternoon went for only 10 yards as right guard Artis Hicks and right tackle Marcus Johnson both left the game with sprained ankles. Hicks was replaced by Jason Whittle in the second quarter and Mike Rosenthal came in for Johnson in the third quarter.
PASS DEFENSE: C -- The Vikings looked as if they were in for another long day as the Dolphins went no-huddle on five of the 12 plays in their first series and had Joey Harrington in shotgun formation for seven of them. Harrington operated very efficiently and the Dolphins, passing on nine of the snaps, moved to the Vikings 1 before Ronnie Brown fumbled away the ball. But the Vikings, who had given up 345 net yards passing to New England on Oct. 30 and 347 net yards passing to Green Bay on Nov. 12, made some adjustments. This included playing more man coverage and having the cornerbacks get more physical with receivers. It appeared that this move, and the fact that Harrington will never be confused for Tom Brady or Brett Favre, helped to stop the early bleeding. Harrington did finish with 254 passing yards, as well as a touchdown and interception.
RUSH DEFENSE: A -- The NFL's top-ranked run defense, led by tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams, held the Dolphins to four yards on 14 carries. The Dolphins originally were credited with minus-3 yards rushing for the game, but that figure was changed Monday when a seven-yard rushing loss charged to quarterback Joey Harrington was changed to a sack. Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown, playing with a groin injury, spent most of the game with negative yardage but finished with two yards on 12 carries. Teams seemed to have come to the realization that running against the Vikings is futile.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- Nothing special from this unit, but nothing terrible either. Although special teams regulars Will Hunter and Artose Pinner were deactivated and Jason Glenn has been lost for the season because of a knee injury, those three did not seem to be missed much. Running back Ciatrick Fason, inactive for every game since Week 2, got a chance to contribute. Punter Chris Kluwe was not at his best, falling below both his gross (37.7 yards Sunday compared to 42.5) and net averages (34.3 Sunday compared to 36.7) for the season. He did put two balls inside the 20-yard line. Kicker Ryan Longwell made field-goal attempts of 35 and 19 yards.
COACHING: C-minus -- Different week, same old story. Brad Childress, the coach and chief-play caller, elects to go for it on fourth-and-1 from his own 29-yard line in the second quarter (the Vikings got it on 2-yard sneak by Brad Johnson), yet he won't let Johnson take a deep shot on the final two plays of the half with 38 seconds and then 12 seconds remaining. Pretty much the same thing happened the previous week against Green Bay. Childress has no problems getting his offense to operate efficiently on its first drive of each game, but after that the Vikings often appear helpless. Interestingly, defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin appears far more willing, or able, to make adjustments than Childress. Childress also lost a challenge on the spot of a ball, making him 2-for-7 on challenges this season.
Grading the Game: Dolphins
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