Monday, November 12, 2012
Dolphins and Titans in the Sun
Most of the teams in the National Football League have reached the halfway point in the season. Meanwhile, there are only three games left to decide the champions in the Canadian Football League. On Sunday, the Toronto Argonauts disposed of the Edmonton Eskimos to earn a berth in the Eastern Final against the Montreal Alouettes. The Saskatchewan Roughriders knocked off the Calgary Stampeders to play in the Western Final next week against the British Columbia Lions. Those will be good games, culminating in the Grey Cup Game in Toronto on November 25th.
The NFL teams will be heading into the home stretch at that time. Last Sunday we boarded a bus here in Fort Myers to watch the Dolphins and The Tennessee Titans in Miami. It was a deal that only a serious euchre player would have passed on. Smooth bus ride for a couple of hours to Sun Life Field; tailgate party with burgers, dogs, chips, and beverages; great seats in eighty degree sunshine with a cool breeze; a festive football atmosphere, in “T” shirts.
There was some discussion prior to the game that the Dolphins should be wary of the struggling Titans. I strolled all the way around the stadium at the upper level, taking in the sights, soaking up the atmosphere. The tailgaters are serious individuals, covering acres of the parking lot with all of their paraphernalia. On the other side of the stadium is a perfect view of the city of Miami, stretching miles up and down the coast. Always carry your age identification if you are buying alcoholic (Jamaican rum)or pseudo-alcoholic (American beer) beverages. A person in our party was carded, even though she is 58. I watched as another man was carded, and it was his birthday. Almost forty staff members at the bar joined in to sing him happy birthday!
In a pre-game interview, Dolphins coach Joe Philbin cautioned that the Titans might be tough because they were starting their young quarterback Jake Locker, who was returning after missing five games with a dislocated shoulder. Locker was as sharp as he needed to be throughout the game, orchestrating a 37-3 drubbing of the Dolphins. Because of Locker's play, veteran Matt Hasselbeck remained on the sidelines most of the game.
For the most part, it was a case of turnovers by the Dolphins, squandered opportunities, unnecessary penalties, and some questionable play calling. On two occasions, the Dolphins elected to pass in a third and one situation. Both of those passes were intercepted, in their own territory.
It was a difficult time for the Dolphins’rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill. He had gone six weeks without throwing an interception. Three different cornerbacks picked off his attempts. Reggie Bush coughed up a fumble in the first half, ending up in the dog house. He was not handed the ball the rest of the game. He is somewhat prone to fumbles; nonetheless, to keep him on the bench is questionable. You cannot win if you do not use your best players.
Chris Johnson ran brilliantly throughout the day for the Titans. He knifed his way through gaping holes at the line, finishing with 126 yards on 23 carries. It was the first time in 23 games that the Miami defence had given up 100 yards to a running back.
Tannehill summed it up at the end of the game: “I’m embarrassed by the way we played”. Cameron Wake came to the Dolphins a couple of years ago from the B. C. Lions and has established himself as a premier rusher in the league. He was also humbled after the game. “There’s no explanation, no excuse.”
Marcus Thigpen won the job as the kickoff and punt returner for the Dolphins this year, after stellar work as a Hamilton Tiger Cat. Most Kickoffs from the Titans went through the end zone. The Titans contained Thigpen on his other run back attempts.
Truly a spectacular afternoon, from the Titans’ standpoint. The Doplhins will reassess the situation, as they now stand with four wins and five losses. Plenty of time to get back on track.