How. On. Earth. Did. That. Happen? I know it is the season of miracles and all that, but how the heck did the Dolphins suddenly win a game? Trailing 13-3 to the Ravens at half time, they clawed their way into a three point lead with less than two minutes remaining, only to see Baltimore kicker Matt Stover land a field goal with 8 seconds left and force the game into overtime.
In overtime, Stover missed a much longer kick and then restored Dolphins QB Cleo Lemon sent Greg Camarillo 64 yards for the game-winning touchdown. Cue much celebration, especially as the all-conquering 1972 side were watching from the stands.
Much credit for the win must go to head coach Cam Cameron. He’s had a tough first season in the NFL, not helped by his starting quarterback being ruled out for the year early on and then injury after injury hitting his side. He’s stuck it through to the end, unlike Bobby Petrino in Atlanta, and got his reward on Sunday. Reward also for having the balls to admit he was wrong and to recall Lemon.
Three weeks ago, Coach Cameron gave the starting job to rookie quarterback John Beck. On Tuesday, check your turkey after it has been in the oven for 10 minutes. That will be about as ready to be eaten as Beck was to be an NFL quarterback. Lemon got the job back on Sunday and look at the return.
No-one is pretending that the ‘Fins will have a hope against the Pats on Sunday, but, despite all of talk about how nicely symmetrical it would be to have a 14-0 team play an 0-14 one, no-one really wanted to see Miami become only the second team to go through a season winless.
Speaking of the Pats (and 29 other teams):
- New England had a hard time of it, as sleet and 27mph winds lashed Gillette Field, but a 20-10 win over the Jets secured them top spot in the AFC playoffs;
- Brett Favre broke his weekly record, this time for most career passing yards, as Green Bay took the #2 NFC spot by beating St Louis 33-14;
- Not such good news for the Cowboys. Their NFL-best streak of games with a touchdown ended as they were beaten at home by the Eagles 10-6 and saw QB Tony Romo suffer a potentially serious thumb injury;
- The Cowboys lost safety Roy Williams for a game, too – he was banned for a ‘horse collar’ tackle on Eagles QB Donovan McNabb;
- And five Atlanta Falcons were fined for wearing or displaying messages on their kit in support of jailed dog-botherer Michael Vick;
- Wins for the Colts and the Buccaneers saw them confirmed as their respective divisional champions;
- Not only did the Giants’ playoff hopes take a knock in their defeat by the Redskins, but they lost tight end Jeremy Shockey with a broken leg, which will keep him out for the rest of the season;
- The Bills not only lost 8-0 to Cleveland in horrific winter weather (at least 4 inches of snow fell during the game), they then got stuck there overnight because of the weather and, on Monday, stuck – literally – for a few hours longer when their plane got stuck in mud;
- Steelers fan Richard Desrosiers finally made it to a Steelers game – nine months after he died. But the presence of his urn couldn’t help them avoid a 29-22 loss to the Jaguars;
- The play off position is now that, in the AFC, the Patriots and Colts will have first round byes and home advantage in the second round. The Chargers are also through. The Jaguars, Browns and Steelers will also join them unless one of them loses both their remaining games and either the Bills or the Titans win both of theirs;
- Over in the NFC it is slightly more clearcut. The Cowboys and the Packers get the byes and the home field advantage. The Buccaneers and the Seahawks are also through. The last two places are between the Giants, Redskins and Vikings. Again, if any of them lose their last two games (and the Giants play the Patriots in the last match of the regular season), other teams can step in by winning both of their final two (but again, there are too many to list here);
- Finally, the Pro-Bowl sides were selected this week. This is the closest thing to an international that the NFL gets, with the best players in each conference taking on one another in Hawaii in February. In truth, it is usually a rotten game, but selection is seen as a mark of a player having a very good season, so everyone wants to be picked, even if they cannot go. One of those not going, sadly, will be the late Sean Taylor, but he was an overwhelming selection in his position. Another Taylor, Fred of the Jags, also misses out, this time for the tenth time; he is now the only player to have run for over 10,000 yards in his career without making the game. At the other extreme, Ravens tackle Jonathan Ogden goes for the 11th time in his 12 year career, despite his side being on a franchise record eight game losing streak.