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29 posts from December 2007

December 30, 2007

G16: Cincinnati 38, Dolphins 25

Aaabengals   Aaabalt2_2                    There is nothing good to say about a 38-25 home loss that ends a 1-15 season. Unless it is that A) the Dolphins and their fans have been put out of their misery, or B) the consolation prize called the No. 1 draft pick awaits.

       Welcoming thoughts here on the game, the season and the future.

     In-game chatter:

     John Beck good-looking 22-yard TD strike to Derek Hagan in final minute, then same combo on the two-point conversion, gives the final score a veneer of respectability. Can't say the same for the season.

     'Gals add late FG just before 2-minute warning. All over but the weeping.

     Well, so much for the fighting chance, huh? Another Chad Johnson catch sets up another Bengals TD, and now it's 35-17. The Dolphin pass defense has taken a giant public crap before Bill Parcells.   

     John Beck finishes TD drive with QB sneak. Early fourth. Fish within 28-17, now with a fighting chance, at least.

     Dolphs driving as third quarter ends. Need a TD here (not a FG) to have any chance. Keeping my upset-pick hope alive! Albeit barely.

     Nightmare! John Beck enters cold for a shaken-up Cleo Lemon, bobbles shotgun snap, fumbles, and it's returned for a Cincy TD. Game out of hand. Only a miracle prevents 1-15 season.

     Deflection-interception by Derrick Pope starts second half off right for Miami.

Halftime. Wonder what Bill Parcell's thoughts are. Guessing something along the lines of, "This team needs help all over the field. And on the sideline, too."      

     Carson Palmer's third TD pass, this a short flip to Antonio Chatman in closing seconds of first half, gives Cincy a 21-10 lead. Only against Miami's tepid offense does this seem a huge deficit.

     Miami kid Chad Johnson burns his hometown team again. Long TD catch and run makes it 14-10, Bengals. You get the feeling "cover corner" may be moving up on Tuna's lengthy wish list.

     Cleo Lemon to Ted Ginn Jr. on a short TD flip = 10-7, Miami. Bengals defense is a bad offense's best friend.

     Cincy TD on catch by Miami's Chad Johnson. Dolphins couldn't get off field on 3rd downs, and two penalties hurt. Some nice work, though, by the D-line and by Joey Porter.

     Dolphins 3-0 after an opening-drive FG. Series ends on Lorenzo Booker drop. How Not to Impress the Tuna.

      Game on!

      Pregame ramble:

      Finally, the finale. The humane bullet to end the suffering. The day when the worst season in the Dolphins' 42 years (1-14) mercifully fades to history and focus on the future can take over.

     Welcoming thoughts here on today's game, how it went, why it went and who impressed you or didn't. More important: Who impressed Bill Parcells or didn't! Thinking John Beck should get at least a couple of series. I'm sticking with my pick: Miami, 24-20.

     Two main questions to answer in the wake of the game: Does/should Cam Cameron keep his job? And who'll be Miami's 2008 opening-day quarterback?

     I'll be blogging live during the game. We invite you to join us for the ride.


December 29, 2007

Patriots go 16-0! (with The Daily Poll)

     New England visited and beat the Giants tonight, 38-35, completing a perfect regular season -- which Dolphin fans will remind you is not the same as a Perfect Season. The Pats are still three more victories from that. I happened to watch some of the game from the Hard Rock casino, where the fans ringing the bar were predominantly rooting against the Pats. 

     Inviting thoughts here on tonight's game and on NE's bid for 19-0. Interested in the perspective of Pats fans, Dolfans and also nuetral observers. (Please be nice, if it's in you. No need for Patriot and Dolphin backers to act like Sunnis and Shiites).

     Partake of our poll as well and let us know why you voted the way you did.

December 28, 2007

"Dear Tuna: What I think is..."

Aaatuna      [Updated Friday: What I think is that nothing Bill Parcells does, no one he hires, no decision he makes, will impact the Dolphins or his time here as much as his ability to solve the quarterback crisis. Click on Tuna Time for today's column by me on the subject].

     Parcells' first official workday as Dolphins VP in charge of everything was Thursday. Do you wonder what his priorities are? What's on his front-burner? Pretend like you, Dolfan, get to help him decide.

     Say you find yourself in a stuck elevator with Big Tuna. Just the two of you. He doesn't have his cell phone so he can't even pretend to ignore you. Give him a fan's-eye view. What would you tell him? Would it be about the coach? Quarterback? Draft? Free agency? Something else?

     The elevator starts any second. What would be the one message or point you'd most like to leave him to consider?

NFL Week 17 picks

     I pick the DolphAaacornins today to upset Cincinnati on Sunday, 24-20. Admit I am having second, third and possibly fourth thoughts, considering Carson Palmer will be aiming at the best wide receiver tandem in the league and Miami has better defensive backs on injured-reserve than on the field. But, as my good friends the Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose like to say, "It's too late to turn back now. I believe I believe I believe I'm falling in love!").

     Anybody else like Bill Parcells' piercing gaze to inspire a Dolphins win? Anyway, click on Week 17 Gems for all of this week's picks. Some bizarre betting lines and screwball results are coming due to the handful of big teams that will be resting starters.

     Click on Tuna Time for today's Friday page column on the most important decision facing Parcells. Hint. It doesn't involve the coach or general manager.

December 26, 2007

Special holiday video-greeting from Greg Cote's blog to you!

     Happy Christmas, Joyous Holiday, Merry Hannukah, Thrilling Kwanzaa and Funky Eid, everybody! Thanks so much for visiting our Random Evidence of a Cluttered Blog throughout the year and for badgering others to do the same. Please click on Merry Christmas From Greg Cote's Blog for an unbelievably sincere personal greeting from me (and a few familar guest stars) to you!

     One caution before you watch: I can't tell you how tough it was for the four of us to coordinate our schedules and make time to rehearse this.

Picks 'n Fantasy: Week 16 results

     Our weekly update on how we're doing with our NFL Friday Page predictions, in our fantasy leaAaafripage_2gue, in the newspaper's Pigskin Challenge contest, and on The Herald's experts panel...

     The Friday Page: Enjoyed another solid week all around. Went 11-5 straight-up and also 11-5 vs. the spread. The latter included an outright upset with Bengals over Browns, and dog-with-points bull's-eyes on Dolphins, Redskins, Panthers, Bears, Falcons, 49ers and Jets. The week bumped our overall season winning percentage up to .646, and raised our mark against the line up to .528.

Aaafennel          Bad Newz Fennelz: Bad newz I mean news again. The BNF -- after going 11-2 in the regular season to earn a first-round playoff bye -- lost a second straight playoff game, this one 86-75 in the consolation bracket of our fantasy-league playoffs. Tom Brady's mediocre 18 points and Andre Johnson's 16 provided our only double-figit scoring. Oh well. Great regular season, disappointing playoffs. What am I, Marty Schottenheimer?

Aaapig2        Pigskin Challenge: Our 155 wins keeps us in third place on our seven-man panel with five other writers and last year's reader champ. We're up to 34th overall among some 500 players.

Aaaherald      Herald Experts: Improved to 12-3 picking Miami games each Sunday vs. five colleagues. We've clinched at least second place but remain one game behind Sir Edwin Pope.

     BLOGKEEPING NOTE: To those who've asked, here or in e-mails (or perhaps silently wondered), our monthly "Ask the Blogmaster General" feature is taking December off and will return in mid-January.

December 24, 2007

G15: New England 28, Dolphins 7

Aaadolhelmet Aaapathelmet     Monday update: A column headline in my paper today asks, "Why should Parcells keep Cameron?" I assume the question is not rhetorical, so I'll offer a few brief possible answers. History if filled with examples of coaches who had absymal first seasons with their teams and went on to great success (Tom Landry and Jimmy Johnson come to mind), so I'm not sure you give up on a guy after one year, no matter how bad. Especially when that year included six losses by three points. Especialy when that year included the worst injury-depletion in the NFL: starting quarterback, running back, middle linebacker, safeties and others. I'm not saying Cameron's job status should be judged secure. But I suspect Bill Parcells might see and consider some of the mitigating factors that may escape others of us. Thoughts?

     From yesterday:

     Weird game, huh? If you can lose by 21 and call it a respectable showing, I guess Miami can. Two 4th-and-goal gambles that failed from the three-yard and one-foot lines were what separated this from being a 28-21 game. The Dolphins' second half performance was encouraging.

     Question. You're Bill Parcells. You just watched your new team for the first time as VP in charge of personnel. What are you thinking?

     In-game ramble:

     Miami forces Tom Brady fumble, fourth turnover of game by new England. Joey Porter having an unusually good game. Dolphins so close to being in this game. Wonder what Tuna is thinking.

     Eureka! Dolphins score! Now 28-7 after Cleo Lemon pass to Greg Camarillo. Bettors who had Miami covering are now gorged with new hope. To think of how close Miami is to being down only 28-21 is at once both invigorating and depressing. 

     Dolphins fail again on 4th-and-goal, this time from inches out. Good call by the ref. Cleo Lemon clearly was on the wrong side of the pilon. Unbelievable. Miami is about three feet from being within 28-14. Story of Miami's season, alas.

     Another Dolphin pick off Tom Brady, this on a tipped pass. A million bettors remain riveted, with the 22-point line still in play, presuming the Dolphins can score.

     Will Allen intercepts Tom Brady in end zone. A highlight!

     Dolphin drive down field, stall, go for it on 4th-and-goal from the three and fail just before the half. You like the call? I think I might have kicked a FG just to get on the board and have something positive to bring into halftime. But I admit that's playing the result.

     Tom Brady, another TD pass. Now 28-0. And to make matters worse, Pats eclipse the single-season record of 70 touchdowns formerly held by the 1984 Dolphins.

     Laurence Maroney long TD run makes it 21-0. So much for Miami trying to keep the score. What was I thinking picking Miami to cover the 22-point spread. I'm down to one point.   

     Tom Brady 1-yard TD flip to Randy Moss, after pass interference in end zone against Travis Daniels makes it too easy. A 1-yard TD pass! Gee you don't think Brady wants that season record do ya?

     Did I speak too soon? Laurence Maroney 51-yard run (after Miami punt) has Pats threatening as first quarter ends.

     Promising drive for Miami. Running and keeping the score low is Dolphins' best hope. Can't keep up in a shootout. That's why first quarter, so far, on balance, has been encouraging.

     Tom Brady to Randy Moss, touchdown. Pats, 7-0. Wondering if Brady might throw on every down and give his backs the day off.

     Game on! Dolphins three and out, now Pats driving. Seven plays, seven passes. Not a beginning to nourish upset hopes.

     Game almost on! Would this be the biggest upset in NFL history? probably not. But it would make everybody's short list. Weather is mild (for a New England December), bad for Miami.

     Pregame chatter:

     Big Tuna is watching. If you're a Dolphin player or for that matter coach Cam Cameron, that has to be in the back of your mind as you face the Patriots today in the first game since Bill Parcells' hiring as VP in charge of, well, everything.

     I think Miami will beat the point spread but not the opponent today. Other years I might give the Dolphins a real chance, but this year, with 19-0 in play, New England won't be taking it easy and resting Tom Brady.

     Your thoughts on today's game welcome here before, during and afterward. I'll be blogging live during the game, so check back and come along for the ride.

Nick Saban drives car into tree

Aaanick      See. Holiday wishes do come true! Story here.

December 21, 2007

HOOT! FAU 44, Memphis 27 (New Orleans Bowl)

     The Owls beat Memphis, 44-27, in Friday night's New Orleans Bowl, FAU's first-ever bowl. Congratulations to Howard Schnellenberger and the guys. Terrific accomplishment. You'd find my game column by clicking on High-Flying Owls.

     In-game chatter:

     Dilvory Edgecomb 4-yard TD run makes it 44-27 with 9:12 left. FAU is going to win this bowl game, its first ever. Hoot hoot!

     FAU back with breathing room, up 10 again, after Rusty Smith's fifth TD pass of the game, this one to Jason Harmon. Buck-39 left in the third.      

     A second unanswered TD by the Memphis Tigers. If momentum is real, it has switched sidelines. This is the first time all night it feels like FSU might lose. Let's see how the offense responds.

     Memphis not going quietly. TD pass pulls Memphis within 30-20, with 52 seconds left in first half.

     Rusty Smith's fourth TD pass of the game (this to William Rose) gives FAU a comfy 30-13 lead (after missed PAT), late in second quarter. What say we dispense with the second half so I might make deadline? Who's with me!

     Rusty Smith's third TD pass, this one 16 yards to Chris Bonner, makes it 24-10, Florida Atlantic. Smith was the Sun Belt Player of the Year...and is playing like it. Howard Schnellenberger looking regal on the sideline, betraying no emotion. I miss the pipe. Bring back the pipe!

     Dilvory Edgecomb 29-yard catch and run TD on toss from Rusty Smith. Owls, 17-7, 5 minutes left in first. All Owls.

     Memphis Tigers drive right down to tie it. Not sure what the over/under is on this game, but it's got to be right around Howard Schnellenberger's age (73). Bet the over.

     Game on! Rusty Smith 4-yard TD pass to Charles Pierre caps opening series. Owls, 7-0. A 42-yard kick return by Dilvory Edgecomb set the tone. Having watched so much of the Dolphins this year, I'd almost forgotten what an impressive opening drive looked like.

     Pregame ramble:

     I find myself seated in the Superdome awaiting tonight's historic first-ever FAU bowl game. I am aware this may not be a high-traffic blog post -- think of it as a 'boutique' entry -- but wanted to give a forum for any Owls fans out there who couldn't make the trip.

     (Or, for that matter, to embittered fans of rival FIU who may wish to mash a sour grape or two here. Your time will come, Golden Panthers. Meantime, respect the Owls. They are your brethren!)

     This won't be a continuous live blog per se but I'll add a few thoughts and attempt to instantly update with all score changes.

     Pregame report: Above average regional cuisine in press box. Jambalaya, gumbo and so forth. Crowd filling in but they'll be lucky to get 25K here. Looking like Owls fans may be outnumbered, but not out-decibeled. 

Ranking Zo among the giants

Aaazo      We have seen Alonzo Mourning play his last game for the Heat. His season-ending injury almost certainly will be (and should be) a career-ender, too. Zo leaves us remembered for his philanthropic work, for his overcoming a serious kidney ailment, and for being one of the great defensive centers in the NBA -- perennially among league leaders in shot blocks, bicep flexing and scowling.

     Give us your all-time top five Heat players, in order or not, and by whatever standard you choose. Without a lot of thought, I'd probably pick (alphabetically) Tim Hardaway, Mourning, Shaquille O'Neal, Glen Rice and Dwyane Wade.

     Who'd be your fab five across 20 Heat seasons?

     With Zo it's also a close call whether he is a future Hall of Famer. I'd call him borderline. You?