1) It is MONDAY, DECEMBER 9. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with the Heat. 2) To the several e-mailers who are asking: I have bunch of back-loaded vacation days I need to use before end of year. That's why I have had fewer columns lately. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Sports-Radio Wars poll, Collball's Championship Saturday, U.S. in Group of Death, Nelson Mandela, Dolphins/NFL pix & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).
Poll result: 'QAM top 790: More than 1,000 of you voted, and our Sports-Radio Wars winner is WQAM with 49.7 percent of the vote, beating 790 and 104.3 The Ticket's 41.9%. In the barely-there division we had 640 Sports edging 940 WINZ, 4.8% to 3.6%. Thanks to all!
DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G13: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 84.9 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Sunday's 34-28 victory at Pittsburgh putting the Dolphins' season record at 7-6. That's the highest approval rating since Week 3. The DSM, in its sixth season, is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Polls never close (you may still vote), but results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9 a.m. today/Tuesday.
2013 DSM Results
G1: 86.5% (20.3-v, 66.2-s) following 23-10 victory at Cleveland.
G2: 98.8% (71.9-v, 26.9-s) following 24-20 victory at Indianapolis.
G3: 99.0% (78.2-v, 20.8-s) following 27-23 victory vs. Atlanta.
G4: 58.2% (18.8-v, 39.4-s) following 38-17 loss at New Orleans.
G5: 33.5% (4.3-v, 29.2-s) following 26-23 loss vs. Baltimore.
G6: 6.5% (3.8-v, 2.7-s) following 23-21 loss to Buffalo.
G7: 4.7% (3.0-v, 1.7-s) following 27-17 loss at New England.
G8: 50.3% (8.2-v, 42.1-s) following 22-20 OT victory vs. Cincinnati.
G9: 4.7% (3.6-v, 1.1-s) following 22-19 loss at Tampa Bay.
G10: 42.4% (7.2-v, 35.2-s) following 20-16 victory vs. San Diego.
G11: 7.8% (4.0-v, 3.8-s) following 20-16 loss vs. Carolina.
G12: 61.9% (12.3-v, 49.6-s) following 23-3 victory at N.Y. Jets.
G13: 84.9% (28.3-v, 56.6-s) following 34-28 victory at Pittsburgh.
Next poll: Dec. 15 following game vs. New England.
G13: DOLPHINS @ PITTSBURGH: MIAMI TAKES A STAND, MAKES A STATEMENT: Final: The Dolphins beat the Steelers, they beat the elements, they beat the doubts -- beat everything in their way on Sunday. Miami now 7-6 after a thrilling 34-28 road win led by Ryan Tannehill, Charles Clay, Daniel Thomas, clutch defense and great special teams. Terrific all-round effort has MIA still well in the playoff hunt, standing 7th in the jockeying for that NO. 6 seed. ..... 4Q: Miami barely survives a last-second Auburn-esque miarcle to win. Man! ... Wake and Vernon combined on sack. ... Sturgis 27-yard FG makes it 34-28 with a minute left. ... Daniel Thomas 55-yard run sets up short Tanny-Clay TD pass with great second and third effort by Clay. MIA up 31-28. What a game! ... PIT back up 28-24 on Big Ben 16-yard TD pass to Cotchery. Seems Dolphins defense is wearing down. ..... 3Q: Super catch by Hartline on 4-yard TD from Tanny has MIA back up 24-21. Terrific game. ... Lamar Miller out with concussion. ... Pick-six INT as Tannehill throws into coverage and Troy Polamalu brings it back all the way. Pittsburgh now up 20-17. What a huge momentum shift. ... Big Ben burns MIA secondary on 43-pyard catch and run to Antonio Brown; now 17-14. ... Daniel Thomas, back from injury and in PIT end zone on 4-yard run for 17-7 lead. Great day by Miami thus far. ..... Half: Encouraging half for playoff-chasing Miami in brutal conditions. Not much happening offensively; Dolphins have only 114 total yards, nclouding 48 on one dash by Tannehill. But big defense is leading the way. ..... 2Q: Jimmy Wilson blocked punt sets up MIA at Pitt 42 in last minute of half. ... Team from the tropics up 10-7 in the snow on Tanny 6-yard TD pass to Clay, set up by the Wake-Starks takeaway. ... Wake sacks Big Ben, Starks recovers fumble at Pitt 31. ..... 1Q: Ryan Tannehill dashes through the snow for 48 yards, leading to 30-yard Sturgus FG and Dolphs within 7-3. Miami settles in red zone again. ... Big Ben Roethlisberger to Emmanuel Sanders 5-yard TD pass in a snowstorm. Heck, it looks like a blizzard!... Snowing! Whooo! ..... Original post: Today isn't about distractions like Bullygate or about side-stories like Mike Wallace's return to Pittsburgh. Today is about chasing a playoff spot. Ain't it great!? Only when your team is in a playoff race do the games get bigger and bigger, and this feels like the biggest game of the season for Miami. Here's why. The Dolphins and Baltimore both are 6-6, but Ravens own the tiebreaker, so Miami must finish with a better record if it comes down to those two. Baltimore is favored to win today, so Miami must keep pace, or in effect fall two games behind with three to play. If both teams win today Miami will have an advantage with an easier closing schedule. Dolphins finish with Patriots here, at Bills, and Jets here. Baltimore ends with at Lions, vs. Pats, and at Bengals. I predict Miami will make the playoffs if it wins today, and won't if it doesn't. Winning today, alas, is a tall task. Weather figures to be around freezing, and Ben Roethlisberger is tough to beat at home. I give Dolphins a big upset shot but don't see it happening. My pick: Steelers, 23-17.
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