Miami Dolphins Survive Close Victory in LA

The Miami Dolphins breathed a collective sigh of relief when the Chargers last second field goal attempt sailed wide right. The events leading up to Miami’s first game, which should have been the second, were made even more bizarre with the disappearance of linebacker Lawrence Timmons. The curse befalling the Miami Dolphins over the last 40 years was clawing and screaming to get out of the bag, but this team marched on, refusing to succumb.

The demons floating over to the Charger’s sideline following the harrowing 19-17 victory should evince Miami Dolphin fans that something special is happening. Victories in these coin-flip games seem to follow a mystical winning force more elusive than a hurricane’s landfall. These Dolphins had seen it all before even strapping it up against the Chargers. From losing their starting QB, to opening week being cancelled, landing in LA a week early to evade Irma…

Timmons going AWOL was met with a shrug. Sorry Lawrence, your drama was but a single drop in a very large bucket. A bucket that has seen enough adversity to fill it way past half full. A great disturbance in the Force has awakened the Miami Dolphins, somehow they believe they will arrive on the winning side of these close games. In the last twenty years 46.12% of all the NFL regular season games were decided by 7 or less points.

When nearly 50% of all games are won by a touchdown or less, there had better be some karma working in the right direction. The difference between a 10-6 playoff team and a team home watching at 9-7, is a victory in one of these games. One win in a soccer stadium in LA against a team that missed two field goals. A puff of wind from the Great Gods of Football pushing the ball just wide right enough for Miami to fly home celebrating. All bad thoughts thwarted by a puff of the hurricane wind Miami conveniently brought with them to LA.

This football article has essentially nothing to do with football, because the Dolphins played like they hadn’t seen a field in two weeks. Jay Cutler’s QB rating was over 100 because he didn’t make any mistakes. 19 points were enough to save a defense that didn’t look to be firing on all cylinders. There were moments when Miami looked good, but mostly they looked like a team playing their first game with a new QB.

The silver lining may be playing the Jets and Saints prior to beginning a grueling schedule without a bye week. Miami needs to win the 7 point games, these are the games that build on themselves. These are games that embed the confidence required to win them. Like a biblical verse, close wins, beget close wins, beget close wins until poise becomes contagious and wining is expected, not hoped for. Slowly, the bad karma fades, replaced by a winning force that is no longer mystical.

On the football side, a disappointing performance by Lawrence Timmons in the pre-season or a domestic issue may have led to his departure. His disappearance leaves a huge void at the position Miami can least afford to lose. The Dolphins started Chase Allen over Mike Hull, a decision that indicates the undrafted rookie has climbed the
depth chart at lightning speed. These Miami coaches have remained steadfast at placing the best performing players on the field. Is it possible Allen has displaced Timmons?

The only thing pretty about this victory is the check mark in the win column. The secondary looked vulnerable. While the defensive line did a great job holding the Chargers to 44 yards rushing, they recorded only 1 sack. Phillip Rivers threw for 323 yards with no INTs and 1 TD. Jay Ajayi reeled off 122 tough yards on 28 carries as Miami used the running game to slow down the Charger pass rush. This was a very clean game, with no turnovers by either team.

It came down to new Miami place kicker Cody Parkey making all 4 of his field goal attempts while the Charger’s Younghoe Koo made only 1 of 3 attempts. One would think growing up with a name like Younghoe would make one impervious to pressure, but that was not case. Parkey’s 54 yarder proved to be the game winner when Koo missed from 44 yards to end the game.

Looking back at the end of the season, the only thing that will matter is the win. Timmons will be a footnote in Miami history, as will Irma and these Dolphins will grow from yet another close victory. Jay Cutler has a game under his belt and all those detractors wishing for the barrage of INTs will have to wait another week. Jay now understands that his team is resilient enough to win games that may have eluded him in the past.

May the Force be with you Jay!

Bring on the Jets!