Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 90.9%; plus Fins beat Buffalo 28-25 behind Ajayi's 214 rushing yards. Our column from game; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), Cubs vs. Indians & more
GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.
1) It is MONDAY, OCTOBER 24. Fivethirtyeight.com says Hillary Clinton has an 86.2 percent chance to beat Donald Trump. ESPN's Football Power Index said Sunday's biggest favorite was Bengals over Browns at 81.7%. 2) Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half century is now available -- just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 to learn more or to order through Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes fall at Virginia Tech with CSM poll, Panthers reign in ESPN Ultimate Standings, NFL Week 7 picks, other state Collball & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Periscope and Snapchat.
On Cubs-Indians World Series: Cubs seek their first World Series title since 1908 and Indians their first since 1948 -- the two longest championship droughts among the 122 teams in the major Big Four sports. Click on The Perfect World Series for my column.
Dolphins get physical as Ajayi leads way: Click on The 200-Yard Man for my column from Sunday's bg Dolphins home win over Buffalo. Find our Fins-Bills in-game blog immediately below the latest DSM poll.
DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G7: 90.9%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show a season-high 90.9 percent overall approval --the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 28-25 victory over the visiting Buffalo Bills putting Miami's season record at 3-4. The DSM 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. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 10:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.
2016 DSM results
G1: 52.5% (following 12-10 loss at Seattle)
G2: 13.3% (following 31-24 loss at New England)
G3: 9.9% (following 30-24 OT victory vs. Cleveland)
G4: 3.0% (following 22-7 loss at Cincinnati)
G5: 3.2% (following 30-17 loss vs. Tennessee)
G6: 67.4% (following 30-15 victory vs. Pittsburgh)
G7: 90.9% (following 28-25 victory vs. Buffalo)
Next poll: Nov. 6 (following game vs. N.Y. Jets, after bye week)
DSM poll analysis: A rating just above 90 percent is of course really high for a team at 3-4, but it reflects two huge wins in a row and the manner in which they happened. It also reflects, I think, the desperation of Dolfans to feel good about their team.
G7: DOLPHINS 28, BUFFALO 25: MIAMI ENTERS BYE WEEK ON A ROLL: Postgame thoughts: Jay Ajayi had 212 yards rushing after 204 last week -- only the fourth RB in NFL history with consecutive 200s. That was the story of the day for Miami in this hard-fought 28-25 win. But so was this: Resilience. The Dolphins rallied from a 17-6 deficit by doing what they have not done very well or often since last making the playoffs in 2008. They won a division game. They won a home game. And they followed a victory with a victory. That is what good teams do. And the Miami Dolphins have looked like just that the past two weeks. A good team. At 3-4 now, the Fins have given themselves a chance to save this season, and the right to think the playoffs are still possible ..... 4Q: BUF within 28-23 on Bush 1Y scoring run with 14 seconds to play ... MIA up 28-17 with 2:24 left after Stills 66Y scoring pass from Tannehill. Dolphins once trailed 17-6. What a comeback! ... MIA up 21-17 with 3:56 left on Williams 12Y scoring run. Ajayi now has 212 yards rushing after 204 last week. Is fourth in NFL history with consecutive 200s, after O.J. Simpson in 1973 and '76, Earl Campbell in 1980, and Dolphin Ricky Williams in 2002 ... Ajayi busts 53Y run giving him 195 for day, after 204 last week. But series ends in punt. Story of day ... Suh sack forces punt, but that punt pins Miami at its own 1-yard line. Um, 99-yard drive, anyone? ..... 3Q: MIA within 17-14 on impressive 75-yard drive finished by Ajayi's 4Y scoring run in last minute of quarter, and Tannehill's 2-point conversion pass to Landry ..... McCoy aggravates hamstring injury, won't return, a break for MIA ... BUF 17-6 on 67-yard scoring bomb from Taylor to Goodwin. Maxwell (who played so well vs. Antonio Brown a week earlier) was beaten in coverage. Game slipping from Miami unless the Fins offense wakes up big, and fast ... DE Jason Jones sack forces Buffalo punt ... Tannehill slightly underthrew a deep ball to Stills but still looked catchable. Woulda/shoulda been at least a 40-yard gain ... Miami forces Bills punt to open second half ..... Halftime thoughts: Feels like Miami should be ahead, not trailing 10-6. Fins lead almost 2-1 in time of possession, and in yards 194-110, but have settled on a pair of field goals after 7- and 8-minute drives. Miami's defense has been solid and Jay Ajayi (12-99) has been great. But Ryan Tannehill (10-17, 86 yards) has been subpar, and mistakes -- special-teams inefficiency, holding penalties and an out of control Jarvis Landry -- have hurt. Winnable game, for sure ..... 2Q: MIA within 10-6 on 33Y Franks FG but settle again. Had 1st-and-10 from 11 but a holding penalty really hurt ... BUF 10-3 on Taylor 10Y scoring run. First time today Miami has trailed ..... 1Q: A 26-yard completion to Landry wiped out by his taunting penalty. Dumb, dumb ... BUF 3-3 on 29Y FG by ex-Fin Carpenter. Miami special teams gives up 30-yard Bills punt return to set up the score ... Wake sack forces Bills punt ... MIA 3-0 on Franks 36Y FG. Settled, though, after impressive 14-play drive petered out ... Dolphins looking good in their throwback, dark-aqua uniforms; end zones also with a throwback diamond-shape look Miami oughta go back to these unis! ..... Original post: The three reasons why today is yuuuuuge for Miami: 1) Since the Dolphins last made the playoffs in 2008, the team is 17-26 (.395) in division games, which ranks 26th of 32 teams and last in the AFC East. 2) Miami's overall home record since then is 27-31 (.466), which ranks 25th overall and last in the division. 3) The Dolphins in that time are 16- 32 (.333) in games immediately following a win, which is 30th in the NFL, last in the A-East. Conclusion? This explains a playoff drought now in its eighth year. The Dolphins do not TCB (Take Care of Business) in fundamental ways. Don't do well in division games. Don't win at home. And don't build and sustain momentum. Now, today -- in a home game vs. a division foe following a big win -- Miami gets another chance. The challenge is high. Buffalo may be the hottest team in the NFL, a sentence rarely written or said. The 4-2 Bills have won four games in a row by a combined score of 124-53. Bullies Rex Ryan and Richie Incognito arrive preening. And the Buffs are a 3-point betting favorite to continue their streak and bring the Fins back to earth after last week's exhilarating home win vs. Pittsburgh. Blowhard Rex has won his past four trips to the 305 (Jets included), but I'm hunching that run hits a wall on Sunday. No, I’m not entirely buying what we saw of Miami in that 30-15 beatdown of the Steelers. The 2-4 Fins still must prove that was no mirage. But a healthy offensive line, the Jay Ajayi we saw last week and a sack-free Ryan Tannehill makes a huge difference. (Tanny, by the way, has thrown for 300-plus yards in five consecutive division games.) Mostly, I pin this upset on the Buffs swaggering in overconfident, hot as they are and having swept Miami last season by a combined 74-31. Buffalo is pretty good; it isn’t that good. The Bills’ big edge would be its top-ranked ground game vs. what has been a shaky Miami run-D, but LeSean McCoy (hamstring) will be less than himself if he plays at all, which also factors in this pick. Buffs are plus-8 on turnovers to Fins’ minus-5, so a clean game by Miami will be the key. By the way, Buffalo has lost the past four times it came here with a winning record. Make it five. My pick: Upset! Dolphins, 24-20.
HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:
1. DOLPHINS: Miami gets physical, rides Ajayi past Buffalo in huge division test: Since last making the playoffs in 2008 the Dolphins ranked 25th in the NFL in home record (.466), 26th in division record (.395) and 30th in record following a win (.333). That's why Sunday's win was triply big -- at home, vs. Buffalo, following a big win. Jay Ajayi's second straight 200-yard rushing game helped.
2. HEAT: Opening Week as team enters new era: NBA tips off Tuesday night and Heat open their 29th season Wednesday in Orlando, then Friday at home vs. Charlotte. No Big 3. No Big 2. No Wade. No Bosh. No earthly idea how good this rebooted Miami team might be as a transitional season begins new era.
3. HURRICANES: Season slipping after big loss in Blacksburg: Wasn't it about a minute ago UM was 4-0 and ranked No. 10? Three straight conference losses later including Thursday's 37-16 spanking at Virginia Tech have the Canes reeling, with a trip to South Bend looming Saturday. Oh, and how was that honeymoon, Mark Richt? Because it's over.
4. BASEBALL: At last, Cubs-Indians World Series on deck: The Cleveland Indians were waiting as the Cubs and Dodgers decided the NL pennant Saturday night. And so there is a god: It'll be Cubbies in World Series Game 1 Tuesday night in search of team's first championship since 1908.
5. PANTHERS: Jagr scores 750th career goal: Cats are five games into this young NHL season as they face a four-game road trip, but headline so far is Jaromir Jagr's 750th goal. You know how they say you're judged by the company you keep? Jagr trails only two people in career goals. Their names: Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe.
6. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Alabama protects its No. 1 ranking: Just over a week from the first College Football Playoff ranking on Nov. 1, No. 2 Ohio State fell to Penn State but Alabama protected its top spot Saturday by beating Texas A&M. You might not like Nick Saban. But you can't beat him, either.
7. NASCAR: Contenders field cuts to eight: NASCAR cut down to its final eight contenders for the Sprint Cup with Sunday's race at Talladega. All that matters now: the cut to one driver on Nov. 20 at Homestead.
8. NFL: League' last remaining unbeaten falls: Minnesota Vikings were NFL's lone unbeaten team entering Week 7. No more. Early celebrating this year for the '72 Dolphins.
9. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Sneakin' up. Almost here...: In less than three weeks, on Nov. 11, most college basketball teams including the Hurricanes open their regular season. Coincidentally, on that same date, we'll still be wondering if Trump will ever concede.
10. WNBA: Sparks edge Lynx for crown, sort of: Los Angeles Sparks beat Minnesota Lynx 77-76 for the WNBA title, at least in part because of a late officiating error the league acknowledged. So Trump was right. The whole thing was rigged!
Missing the HB10 cut: A young woman wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt kneeled while singing the national anthem prior to a Heat preseason game in Miami. I wonder what Francis Scott Key would make of all this. Tried to reach him, but he's been dead for 173 years ..... Mets prospect Tim Tebow finally got a hit in the Arizona Fall League, after starting 0-for-12. "Back in my day, kneeling meant you were praying," noted Tebow ..... America is slightly less violent today. UFC announced it has cut several fighters from its roster with an eye on reducing its schedule in 2017 ..... Jose Fernandez's mother, in a letter to the Miami Herald, thanked fans for their outpouring of grief and love upon his tragic death. R.I.P., Jose.
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