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News » BELIEVE IT - DOLPHINS DO


BELIEVE IT - DOLPHINS DO


BELIEVE IT - DOLPHINS DO
Two old men of the defense finally left the joyous locker room after Sunday's 24-17 win against the Jets, AFC East champion hats askew.


"What'd they think was gonna happen, V?" Joey Porter said.

"They didn't think this was gonna happen," Vonnie Holliday said.

Who's they? Well, everybody.

What's this? The most unlikely sports story in South Florida history. The 2003 Marlins? The 1996 Panthers? Can either really compare? The NFL's worst team in 2007 is one of the final dozen in 2008. Brett Favre, the Dallas Cowboys and Bill Belichick will not participate in the postseason.

The Dolphins will. And they belong.

So many deserve credit that this space is insufficient. Start with H. Wayne Huizenga, who courted Bill Parcells, who hired Tony Sparano, who changed the culture, and Jeff Ireland, who kept finding spare parts that fit. Don't forget Chad Pennington, who should be MVP after doing as much as Peyton Manning with less. Or Dan Henning, whose offensive creativity was critical again: Three no-huddle passes led to the first touchdown. Or Paul Pasqualoni, whose defense was generally stout when necessary.

Parcells was back in South Florida, planning to watch alone unless Ron Wolf showed up, not wanting to change his routine for the same reason Kevin Costner's character didn't in Bull Durham: You don't mess with a winning streak.

The streak lives. So, remarkably, do the Dolphins.

A chance not to be missed

Don't miss it. Don't miss it. Don't miss it.

That's all Charlie Anderson was thinking. He had come clean, and now no one would come between himself and punter Reggie Hodges. But he had come clean before, as a Houston Texan, and come up empty.

Not this time.

"Felt like my hands were on fire," Anderson said.

The ball caromed to Anderson's teammate, Patrick Cobbs, who advanced it to the Jets 49, setting up a field goal that gave the Dolphins a 24-17 lead.

Would they have won this game without it? Maybe. Yet this was not a dominant squad. It won nine games by single digits. It had no 1,000-yard rusher or 800-yard receiver. So it wouldn't have won a playoff spot without small plays from its role players.

"We have a lot of fringe guys here, but we're a hell of a team," Anderson said.

That showed again Sunday, when the Dolphins made more mistakes than usual. Ricky Williams (drop) and Ronnie Brown (poor throw) each blew well-conceived Wildcat plays. John Denney had two bad snaps, one costly. Joey Porter was quiet. Even Chad Pennington fumbled.

Yet they overcame all that, because they got just enough from role guys like Anderson and Cobbs and Brandon Fields and Lousaka Polite.

Of joining the Dolphins, Anderson said, "I just wanted to be one of the guys."

Sunday, he didn't miss his chance.

Bring on the Ravens

Ted Ginn Jr. had just played his best game, better than his 175-yard performance against the Bills, because his two catches against a healthy secondary had helped his quarterback like never before and contributed to a playoff berth.

A reporter asked if he thought outsiders finally believed in his team.

"Who knows if they believe in us, but they know about us now," Ginn said.

Here's the answer about belief: The Dolphins are expected to open as home underdogs, by a field goal or more, against the Baltimore Ravens.

That is a product of the way the Ravens are playing (manhandling five of the past six opponents), and their physical domination of the Dolphins on Oct. 19 in the same stadium.

Look beyond the score (27-13 Ravens) and yardage (359-357 Dolphins). Willis McGahee averaged 5.5 yards per carry, compared to 2.1 for Ronnie Brown. Joe Flacco wasn't pressured and threw only six incompletions. The Wildcat was toothless.

So while the weeklong hype will center around Cam Cameron's second return to South Florida as Ravens offensive coordinator, the more critical issue is whether the Dolphins can control the lines of scrimmage. The now-sidelined Justin Smiley played in the first matchup, but the now-healthy Jason Ferguson missed the final three quarters.

"We're the only ones who really believed," right tackle Vernon Carey said of the season.

Not much has changed.



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 29, 2008

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Fabian Washington Name: Fabian Washington
#31
Position: CB
Age: 25
Experience: 4 years
College: Nebraska
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