After trailing in the fourth, Miami’s resilience pays off as Chad Henne helps keep the Dolphins playoff hopes alive, beating New England, 22-21.
New England (21) @ Miami (22)
Miami (6-6) is definitely in the thick of things after another exciting win, this time against division rival New England (7-5). The Dolphins never die attitude paid off big during the 22-21 victory, as Chad Henne led the Phins with a surprise air assault to put away the Pats. The Wildcat strategy was completely abandoned this time around, as Coach Sparano decided to take a much different approach against New England; airing it out.
Chad Henne delivered a spectacular game, tossing over fifty times for 335 yards, including 21 passing first downs. Ricky Williams was held to under 100 yards for the first time since taking over for the injured Ronnie Brown, but that was only due to the fact that Henne followed Drew Brees’ footsteps, shredding New England’s secondary. The Patriots’ fallacies on defense were exposed a week ago against the Saints, and Henne picked up right where Brees left off.
From the get go, it looked like a standard Patriots blowout. On their first drive, New England started out strong with a 58-yard touchdown pass to Randy Moss. After a Miami punt, the Patriots followed that up with a Kevin Faulk touchdown run to take an early 14-0 lead. The following drive for Miami, the Chad Henne show began. Henne led Miami down the field and immediately got the Dolphins right back in the game with a touchdown toss to Davone Bess, who totaled ten catches for 110 yards on the day.
Miami’s defense, now smelling blood, stuffed the Pats on their next drive, forcing a punt. On the following drive for Miami, Henne was moving the Dolphins down the field, but ended up throwing an interception on a long pass to Bess. The Patriots then marched down the field with the help of a 58-yard pass to Welker, eventually making it to Miami’s six yard line. But the overly confident Belichick decided to go for yet another controversial fourth down call, and the Miami defense stuffed Sammy Morris for no gain.
Chad Henne immediately redeemed himself after throwing the interception, tossing his way into field goal range with just seconds to go in the first half. Dan Carpenter kicked a 29-yarder to bring Miami within four. The tide had definitely turned in the ball game, and the Dolphins looked like they were now in control.
Miami came out in the second half stagnant, punting on their first drive. New England immediately responded with an 81-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Sam Aiken, extending the Patriots lead to 11. But Miami has come too far, in this game and in this season, to allow that seemingly devastating blow from the Pats end their dreams this year. On the following drive for the Dolphins, their epic comeback began with another field goal, bringing them within eight.
Miami stuffed the Pats on their next drive, handing over the ball to the red-hot Henne. The Phins drove down the field on an efficient drive that ended in a touchdown pass from Henne to Brian Hartline. Miami decided to go for two, but failed on the conversion attempt, leaving the Dolphins trailing, 21-19. The Patriots followed that up with a punt to end the third quarter, setting the stage for Miami’s fourth quarter comeback.
Miami started the fourth quarter with a punt of their own, giving the ball back to New England, now with another chance to extend their lead. The Patriots drove down to the Miami five yard line, but fortunately for the Phins, rookie Vontae Davis was waiting for a Brady pass to Moss in the end zone and intercepted their hopes of putting Miami away.
Both teams then punted back and forth to one another as the fourth quarter ticked away. Miami attempted to go for it on fourth down with just under five minutes left on the clock, but failed to convert. The Miami defense then protected the Dolphins comeback effort, forcing New England to punt.
Then in heroic fashion, Chad Henne carried his squad into field goal range as the two minute warning came and went, allowing Carpenter to hit the game winner from 41 yards out. With less than a minute in the game, Brady attempted a heroic comeback drive of his own, but it fell apart after he threw an interception to Channing Crowder.
So now we have Miami, not only back in the hunt for a wildcard spot, but sitting a game behind the Patriots for the AFC East division title. It won’t be an easy finish for Miami, but the way this season has been going for the Phins, nothing has been easy. Now the Dolphins must go on the road to face Jacksonville and Tennessee, before coming back home to play Houston and Pittsburgh. Miami has officially proved that they can hang with any team, so expect an exciting finish to what has been an already exciting season for the Phins.
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Written by Josh Souder