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24 posts from November 2008

November 30, 2008

Miami Dolphins 16, St. Louis Rams 12; Dolphs back in AFC East title hunt

Aaa1dol Aaa1stl      [Note: The latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll is now posted in a new, separate blog just above this one. Voting continues until midnight Monday].

     [Update: The AFC East's Jets, Patriots and Bills -- all favorites today -- all lost, repositioning victorious Miami as a contender for a playoff spot as division champion, not just for a wild-card berth. The Dolphins now are tied with New England for second in the division and only one back of the Jets, whom Miami plays in the regular-season finale. Today's not-so-good news: The Colts and Ravens both won to stay head of the Dolphs in the wild-card race. On the heel of a 1-15 season ... are we really even having this conversation!?]

     Was it a particularly impressive win? Nah. Miami barely toughed out a narrow W against an inferior opponent. Lots of penalties, too. Still, it was impressive in other ways. Miami faced a letdown after a very emotional loss to a division rival. Miami faced a road game against an opponent with nothing to play for but its spoiler role.

     And yet, most importantly, the Dolphins survived to improve to 7-5 and keep its playoff hopes very much breathing.

     Comments on today's game welcomed here.

     In-game chatter:

     Andre Goodman interception on last-minute bomb seals victory for Miami!

     Dolphins punting at 2-minute warning. Man, penalties have really hurt Miami today.

     Surprised Rams didn't go for it there. Perfect circumstance now for Miami to get a few firsts, run out the clock and take a victory knee. 

     Dan Carpenter with another trey, this from 42, and it's 16-12, Fish. The kid's NFL rookie-record 11th straight FG. Ricky Williams hobbles off; doesn't appear serious. Can the Dolphins hold on!?

     Renaldo Hill with a giant interception on a really bad decision by Marc Bulger. Huge takeaway. Feels like a game-saver.

     Rams settle for FG, draw witin 13-12 with 12 minutes left. Smart blitz by Will Allen forced third down misfire, one of the few times Miami's rush has bothered Marc Bulger.

     Smart red flag by Tony Sparano. Doubt he'll win it, but good gamble because Rams first down was so big.

     Miami nursing an anxious lead as game turns to fourth Q. result teetering. Are we confident?

     Dolphs give it right back on David Martin fumble after catch, close to red zone. Hey fellas, anybody wanna win this game?

     Interception by Miami's Akin Ayodele a huge takeaway that snuffs a threatening Rams drive. Could prove to be be a game-saver.

     Tenth straight FG for Carpenter ties an NFL rookie record.

     Money Carpenter adds another FG, this from 47, to grow Miami's lead to 13-9. Still a nervous lead. Davone Bess having a nice game. Two Wildcat plays in that series, one with Chad Pennington on the sideline, a new wrinkle.

     Dolphs 3-and-out to start 2H. Wildcat offensive variation a non-factor so far. Might be time to dust it off.

     Dan (Money) Carpenter 38-yard FG in waning seconds gives Miami a 10-9 halftime lead, after a hold by RG Ike Ndukwe negates a Ricky Williams TD run and then Davone Bess blows an end-zone catch. Penalties have hurt a bit today. (I picked Miami, 27-23. Liking my pick).

     Rams regain lead 9-7 on a third FG with inside of two minutes left in first half.

     Bad drop by Ted Ginn forces a punt. Junior looked like a DB batting down a pass instead of a receiver.

     Order restored. Dolphins seize first lead on 3-yard, second-effort scoring run by Ronnie Brown. Big third-down catch by Davone Bess. Doesn't it seem like more and more NFL players are sporting long dreadlocks?

     Game turns to 2nd Q with Dolphins driving promisingly. Against this defense, Brown/Williams/Cobbs should combine for 150 yards rushing. That's the theory, anyway.

     Lous add 50-yard FG for 6-0 lead late in first Q. Rams had been outscored 99-6 in first half in previous three games. StL looking more like the playoff-chasing team and Dolphins like the bums. Very early still, of course.

     Now guard Justin Smiley out injured for Miami, and Chris Long beats Jake Long for a QB hurry. Ominous start for Dolphins.

     Rams chip in short FG on opening series marked by two pass interference penalties against Dolphin cornerback Joey Thomas. Joey Thomas!? Oy! Rams not used to leads. That probably explains the impromptu conga line inside the stadium.

     Game on! Gus Johnson and Steve Tasker on the call for CBS, which tells where this game rates.

     Original post:

     The Rams are Detroit's closest challenger for NFL's Worst Team dishonors, and yet nothing in this league is assured, and I have a hunch St. Louis, healthier than it's been in a while, will give Miami a tough fight this afternoon. See a close Dolphins win. How about y'all?

     For sure  Miami needs this one desperately to stay in the playoff chase. Finishing 3-2 from here for 9-7 almost certainly won't get a wild-card. Even 4-1 for 10-6 might not. So call this a  must-win in all but a literal sense.

     Comments welcome here before, during our live-blog and of course after today's game.

November 29, 2008

N.C. State 38, Miami Hurricanes 28; Emerald Bowl next? (plus Gators romp, FAU wins thriller)

Aaa1ncstate Aaa1canes       Canes last-minute TD made the final score a bit more respectable, but this was another poor showing by UM and ends the season on a sour note at 7-5. Four interceptions and continued awful run defense ends the regular season.

     Best guess is that the young Hurricanes will now be headed to the Dec. 27 Emerald Bowl in San Francisco to face a Pac-10 team, most likely Cal.

     The season marks an obvious improvement over last year's 7-5, a positive direction that should not be forgotten or lost in the last two games' disappointment.

     In-game chatter:

     UM's defense the past two weeks has to be killing Randy Shannon, a former linebacker and defensive coordinator.

     Canes can't buy a defensive stop.

     Raining heavily in Tallahassee. Weather could have huge impact on Gators-Noles. Would think it's a bit of a nuetralizing factor perhaps favoring FSU.

     Whatever happened to the Canes' defense?

     Just arrived at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tally for today's Fla-FSU game (drove over from Jacksonville), to find UM narrowly behind at NC State. Good for Randy Shannon, taking the high road in suspending freshman WR Aldarius Johnson for a team rules violation. Tough to voluntarily erase one of your weapons from a big game, but the right thing to do.

     By the way, Patrick Nix gets most of the heat from fans for UM's offense, but what in hell has happened to The U's run defense!? Good Lord!

     By the way II: If anybody cares, ex-Dolphin RB Sammie Smith will be one of FSU's honorary captains today. Everybody knows Sammie had his trouble with drug-dealing and served his time. Good to see he's back in a positive loop with his alma mater and its fans. He's a good person.

     Original post:

     Miami Hurricanes' regular-season ender today at noon finds 7-4 UM at the 5-6 Wolfpack of North Carolina State, and the fact the Canes are a negligible 1 1/2-point betting favorite tells you The U has miles yet to go in terms of regaining national respect. (Getting figuratively and literally run over at George Tech didn't help).

     Important game for a Canes program trying to bounce back defensively from last week's embarrassment and still trying to find its offensive identity under embattled o.c. Patrick Nix. Huge difference psychologically between coming out of a bowl game 9-4 or 7-6, and those are the two extremes in play right now.

     Comments welcome here before, during and of course after today's UM game...

     ...and also on the day's other Division 1 state collball games:

     Alabama-Birmingham 15, Central Florida 0: Punchless Knights end a dismal season 4-8.

     No. 2 Florida 45, No. 23 Florida State 15: Gators now 11-1 and Noles 8-4, both bowl-bound but Florida still very much alive in the national-title hunt. UF was looking for a very impressive performance (read: rout) against a quality oppponent, and got it. Click on The Dirt on Tebow for my column off the game.

     FAU 57, FIU 50 (OT): It was the annual Shula Bowl (as opposed to the Hula Bowl), and the Owls won an overtime shootout thriller in what has to be one of the more action-jammed games we have ever seen down here. Not that I saw it, being up in Tally. Owls now 6-6 and bowl-eligible. The Int'l 4-7 with one game left. Expected a good game and a great small-college atmosphere, and this game delivered, with wise old Howard Schnellenberger smiling last. "Foul Owl on the Prowl!"

November 28, 2008

How we feel about Shaquille O'Neal (with poll); plus Dolphins in playoff trouble, Week 13 NFL picks

Aaa1phoeshaq Aaa1miamishaq      Tonight in Phoenix, Shaquille O'Neal faces his former team, the Heat, for the first time since being traded -- an appetizer to the teams' March 4 meeting in Miami.

     What do you think would be the crowd reaction to Shaq's introduction if tonight's game were here? Did O'Neal leave beloved, resented or shades in between? Tap into today's poll and drop a comment on how you feel about The Big Fella. Does the Heat miss Shaq? Was the February trade in exchange for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks a good one?

     Dolphins escape St. Louis but in playoff trouble, Week 13 picks: I have Miami barely getting by at Rams Sunday, 27-24. After last week, Dolphs need to get their mojo back. I also did some studying for today's predictions-page NFL column and determined Miami is in deep trouble in the playoff chase. A 3-2 finish from here for 9-7 won't get the wild card, no way, no how. A 4-1 finish for 10-6 could do it but I'd call it very iffy. Thinking Miami might need to run the table from here, including a season-ending win at Jets, to make the playoffs. Click on Week 13 Gems for all this week's gems, and for Dolphin Playoff Picture for the column.

November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Aaa1thanksgiving_4     Happy Thanksgiving to all in our little corner of the blogosphere.

     This is not a blog post designed to garner a slew of comments. Feel free to drop a note mentioning some of the things you are most thankful for today, personally or in the realm of sports. Mostly, though, I just wanted to wish you all a happy holiday, and say thanks to long-time and recent readers alike.

     Click on Giving Thanks for my holiday column. It is about a UM athlete who is lucky to be alive. It is about the good works of local sports figures such as Alonzo Mourning and Vernon Carey. It is personal as well. I hope it makes you feel good, and encourages you to appreciate all you have in your life.

November 25, 2008

Leave Joey Porter alone! Plus Sean Taylor, Heat, Week 12 results, Marlins, flatulence, Ernest Wilford's Apple Surprise & more

     A brand new mess o' miscellania for your holiday week, all free and just for you...:

Aaa1joey      Let it rest. Leave Joey alone: Finger-wagging disciplinarians among us are getting a bit too excited ("Insubordination!!!") over Dolphin Joey Porter's late-game meltdown Sunday and what the consequences should be. The consequences are that Joey got called out by his own team, including captain Vonnie Holliday, for both the two penalties and refusing to come out of the game. Tuesday Joey apologized to the team, as he shouuld have. Here's what else should happen: Nothing. Nada. Zip. No team fine. Certainly no suspension. This is what you get when you hire Porter. You get a volatile, loudmouth badass. You get intensity that is right on the edge. That fire is what makes him the NFL sacks leader and arguably the team MVP. Sunday that fire got a little hot. Move on. Miami lost that game because of abysmal pass defense; Miami didn't lose because Porter lost his head. I'd be absolutely stunned if Tony Sparano fined Porter for one insubordinate minute of passion overload. He shouldn't. And he won't.

     What Braman hath wrought: Marlins announce today that the new ballpark will open for 2012 season, not 2011 as originally hoped. Reason is simple. Two words. Norman Braman. 

     Ernest Wilford's Apple Surprise: One of the perks of sportswriterville is that people mail you books, such as The Sunday Night Football Cookbook, which includes recipes by chefs from every NFL city and also from players throughout the league. Well lo and behold I come to page 58 to find a dessert recipe Aaa1apple_2from the Dolphins receiver with oneAaa1ernest catch all season. His recipe: Mix one box yellow cake mix, 1/3 cup soft margarine and one egg until crumbly, and press into ungreased 9x13-inch baking pan. Spread 21-ounce can of apple pie filling evenly on top. In small bowl combine 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts and spread over apple mixture. In another small bowl beat one egg with 1 cup sour cream and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and pour over brown sugar mixture. Bake in 350 oven about 50-60 minutes and cool before serving. OK, that's it. Time now for your joke, such, "Weird thing about Wilford's recipe. It looked really good but ended up not doing anything for me."

Aaa1seantaylor_2     One-year anniversary: Sean Taylor, gone but not forgotten. R.I.P.

     Mini-Heat: Not sure how the Heat can keep getting by with a 6-8 center, even one as resourceful and selfless as Udonis Haslem. I happened to speak with Alonzo Mourning yesterday. He still plans to play this season but didn't sound like his return was anywhere close to imminent.

     Not an easily concealed weapon: Cick here to find out why, if you live in a high-crime area and you are thinking about buying a fresh turkey, you should think twice.Aaa1dancing

     Why is this man smiling?: Dancing star Warren Sapp, hey watch your hand there buddy!

     WeeAaa1cotepixk 12 results: Each Tuesday during NFL season I keep you posted on how I'm faring with my Miami Herald prognosticating, in the paper's Pigskin Challenge contest, and with my two fantasy teams -- despite the public humiliation. THE FRIDAY PAGE: The latest floats in the sad parade? I vomited a 7-9 record overall and 6-10 against the spread in a continuation of a season that is simply kicking my a--. PIGSKIN CHALLENGE: My miserable .560 mark for the season places me 249th of some 950 players, and last on the seven-man "experts" panel, a mocking misnomer indeed. DOLPHIN PICKS: Eureka! A sliver of light! Got another Miami game right -- the only one on the writers panel who correctly pick the Patriots. Still only 4-7 predicting the Dolphin game in each Sunday's paper, but now only one game back. FANTASY TEAMS: Another double shot of sorrow. The Bad News Fennelz fell to 1-11, losing 114-95 despite 33 points from Matt Cassel. My other team, the Isle of Cotea Lobos, feAaa1fartll to 3-9 in a 157-151 heartbreaker. Rallied Monday night but 72 combined points by Drew Brees and Marques Colston wasn't quite enough.

     Speaking of flatulence...: As if my predictions record and fantasy teams didn't stink enough, click here.

     Most, least ethical professions: Gallup's annual survey of professions by ethics is out. Top five in order are nurses, pharmacists, high school teachers, doctors and clergy. Lowest marks in inverse order: stockbrokers, advertisers, car salesmen, telemarketers and -- dead last -- lobbyists. Sure glad I fell into journalism. Before this I was a lobbyist for the telemarketing industry.

     Click back. Might be adding more stuff here later.

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 73.5%

     Overall fan satisfacation with the Dolphins has dropped to 73.5 percent, its lowest level since Week 7, according to the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll in the wake of Sunday's 48-28 home loss to the New England Patriots. That ended Miami's four-game win streak and left the season record at 6-5.

     Thirty-eight percent of fans call themselves "very satisfied" and 35.5% "somewhat satisfied." The complete poll and week-by-week season results are below.

     New Aaa1dsmto the blog this season, the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter is a continuous, weekly gauge of how fans are buying into the "New Beginning" and the club's direction. Right after each game, I invite fans to share their overall degree of satisfaction with the team.

     The criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's result and performance, the season as a whole, the direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations.

     The Comments section never closes. However, the poll itself is open only through midnight of the Monday following the game -- meaning it is now closed. (Votes cast after midnight continue to show in poll but are not counted in official final results). Every Tuesday morning we then announce the final results. Complete season results are beneath the newest poll.

     The latest DSM poll:

     Season results:

     Week 1: 59.0% satisfaction (6.6 very, 52.4 somewhat), after loss vs. Jets.

     Week2: 5.4% satisfaction (2.1 very, 3.3 somewhat), after loss at Cardinals.

     Week 3: 98.4% satisfaction (74.8 very, 23.6 somewhat), after win at Patriots.

     Week 4: Bye week; no poll.

     Week 5: 99.3% satisfaction (86.8 very, 12.5 somewhat), after win vs. Chargers.

     Week 6: 80.3% satisfaction (30.2 very, 50.1 somewhat), after loss at Texans.

     Week 7: 49.0% satisfaction (8.9 very, 40.1 somewhat), after loss vs. Ravens.

     Week 8: 98.8% (67.1 very, 31.7 somewhat), after win vs. Bills.

     Week 9: 99.4% (84.6 very, 14.8 somewhat), after win at Broncos.

     Week 10: 96.6% (71.5 very, 25.1 somewhat), after win vs. Seahawks.

     Week 11: 96.6% (73.5 very, 23.1 somewhat), after win vs. Raiders.

     Week 12: 73.5% (38.0 very, 35.5 somewhat), after loss vs. Patriots.

November 24, 2008

Camarillo out for year; Whose coaching was worse: Sparano's or Shannon's?

     [Note: Voting remains underway through midnight tonight in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll, found in the blog post just below this one].

     [Bulletin: Dolphins lose Greg Camarillo to injury for remainder of season. A big blow to a team that had been injury-free. Hurts Miami's playoff run, but good teams overcome injuries].

     I am not nearly as quick to criticize our local coaches as many fans are, mostly because coaching -- except in the rarest extremes of brilliance or malfeasance -- usually is not what wins or loses games. You all know I am a supporter of the Miami Hurricanes' Randy Shannon against his various critics, just as you know that I think the Dolphins' Tony Sparano is the NFL coach of the year right now.

     But. But! These two gents are not above criticism, and I think each plenty for their teams' most recent games -- both hugely important games that featured very questionable showings by the coaching staffs.

Aaa1shannon      In UM's 41-23 loss at Georgia Tech Thursday night, the Canes' defense allowed an embarrassing 472 yards rushing, the most allowed by any Miami team since 1944. It was as if UM coaches (and the buck starts and stops at Shannon) were unaware Tech ran a triple-option offense. The team was thoroughly unprepared to stop it, seemed not to adjust within the game, and was totally flummoxed from start to finish.

Aaa1sparano      In the Dolphins' 48-28 home loss to New England Sunday, Miami allowed 415 yards passes including a combined 16 catches for 245 yards by Randy Moss and Wes Welker. The Pats were usually in the shotgun and managed to spread Miami's defense, and the Dolphins coaches had no answers. And using cornerback Jason Allen 1-on-1 against Moss, who caught three touchdown passes, seemed an egregious, what-were-they-thinking kind of mismatch.

     Two huge games. Both similar scores. Both defensive collapses. And both with coaching performances Shannon and Sparano undoubtedly wish they could erase and do over.

     I rarely say anybody got "outcoached," but the Canes and Dolphins both did in these last games.

November 23, 2008

G11: New England 48, Miami Dolphins 28 (Final)


     [Note: The new Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll is now up in a separate blog post found just above this one. Cast your vote! Drop a comment here ont today's game. Drop a comment above in the poll post on the season overall].

     Final score made it seem almost like a rout. It was not. A terrific gaAaa1patsme until it unraveled for Miami late and got a bit nasty with the punches and flags. Comments on today's game welcome below.

     Pats bust it in from the 1 on a 4th down play. Running up the score? Well, it mjight have felt like that if they'd kicked a field goal, too, right? Now 37 seconds left.

     Jets hand Titans first loss, 34-13.

     Pats threatening to add late TD, thanks largely to a personal four and then an unsportsmanlike conduct against Joey Porter.

     Dolphins misfire on 4th down pass and give up ball trailing 41-28 with 4:04 to play. Fans leaving in droves. Game time.

     Chad Pennington intercepted by ex-Cane Brandon Meriweather. That could do it. Lots of Dolfans heading for the exits. Pats capitalize on turnover with 30-yard FG, after which very brief skirmish erupts between players. Channing Crowder punched and comes out smiling. Crowder ejected along with Pats tackle Matt Light.

     I'd predicted a breakout game by Randy Moss. Bbut didn't expect three TD catches. Miami's pass defense has not been up to the task.

     Randy Moss another TD catch, this one of 29 yards over Andre Goodman. Pats back up by 10, 38-28, with clock now a factor at 8:52 left. Catch made despite pass interference call against Goodman, although replay made it seem flag could as easily have gone against Moss.

     Ricky Williams 13-yard diving TD catch in end zone draws Miami within three again with 13:11 to play. Davone Bess 36-yard catch the drive's big play. What a superb football game! (Calling Jake Long's injury an ankle, return questionable. Doesn't seem serious).

     Rookie LT Jake Long walking from sideline to lockerroom. Not good. Suggests an injury, although he is bipedaling on his own power and appearing fine.

     Pats' 31-21 lead entering 4Q is first time either team has been ahead by more than four today. And first time game has tipped in any way that felt like important.

     Ex-Dolph Wes Welker kills Miami on a 64-yard catch and run, tightroping along the sideline, after Will Allen slipped in coverage. Gave Pats a first at Miami's 21, leads to Kevin Faulk 21-yard TD run as third quarter ends.

     Jets up pretty comfortably on Titans, 20-3 in third. Good news for '72 Dolphins. Bad news for '08 Dolphins.

     Randy Moss 8-yard TD catch over Jason Allen and Pats regain lead, 24-21, in terrific, see-saw battle. Now with 6:12 to play in third quarter.

     Joey Porter with a sack.

     A 46-yard bomb to Ted Ginn begins 3Q with fireworks. Then 16 yards to Camarillo. Leads to Dolphins regaining lead 21-17 on 2-yard TD flip to FB Casey Cramer. Casey Cramer! What a game. Neither team has had more than a four-point lead.

     Remember I said Cassel might launch 50 passes? First half he was 18-25 for 205 yards. Pats dominating clock (17:11 to 12:49) and total yards, 260-146.

     New Associated Press Top 25 college football poll out: Alabama and Florida 1-2.

     Halftime show: Dolphin cheerleaders, a bunch of kids wearing do-rags, and guys on trampolines. Pretty lame. Where's the country music act?

     Halftime. Pats up, 17-14, both Miami TDs preceded by Pats turnovers. I expected nothing but a great game and have not been disappointed. (Liking my pick [NE, 27-23] although I have a feeling the final score will well exceed 50 points).

     See-saw game tips back to Patriots, 17-14, on 25-yard scoring pass to Randy Moss with 2:14 left in first half. Moss eluded Jason Allen on the play.

     Dolphins recover Pats fumble! Mark Roth forced, Andre Goodman on it. Second big turnover for Miami. Huge. Results in Chad Pennington 7-yard TD run and Dolphins regain lead, 14-10, with 5:05 left in 2Q. Great game so far!

     English driving yet again, with first down at Miami 28. Matt Cassel fantasy players I think will end up liking his number today. 

     Pats driving again, in Miami red zone. NE barely even trying to run; Matt Cassel could throw 50 passes the way this game is going. End 1Q with NE first and goal at Miami 8. Matt Cassel keeps for 8-yard TD run, Pats regain lead.

     Renaldo Hill interception and 17-yard return off deflection sets up Miami nicely at Patriot 42. David Martin 29-yard catch. Miami TD on Greg Camarillo 3-yard pass. Dolphins, 7-3, 5:23 left in 1Q.

     Dolphins' first drive ending in 3-and-out punt. Still some empty seats in the upper corners.

     Pats driving, Miami timeout with NE 3rd and 2 at Mia 12. Looking early like a nice day for Wes Welker's fantasy owners. Visitors settle for 30-yard FG and early 3-0 lead.

     Game on! Crowd still filling in but will be biggest of the season.

     Miami wins toss, defers to second half.

     Dolphin offense intro'd. Biggest cheers, in order, for Chad Pennington, Ronnie Brown Greg Camarillo, Jake Long, Ted Ginn, Vernon Carey.

     Temp at kickoff 73 degrees, 10 percent chance of rain. Nice little break for those fans who always complain about the heat at these 1 o'clock games.

     Matt Cassel struck by meteor, declared doubtful for game! Just kidding. Making sure you're still paying attention. There is a fan seated directly in front of the pressbox wearing a leather helmet, aqua, orange and white dreadlocks, a rubber mask and a Ricky Williams jersey with a foam fin protruding from the back. Wonder who he's for today? I  notice most people stand but some don't during the pregame invocation. What's the etiquette on that? Stand, right? 

     Live-blogging here! Can tell by the traffic getting here and the way the crowd is filling in that we might have an actual sellout today. Inactive include WR Ernest Wilford, which by now is no surprise. Today's honorary captains are Mercury Morris, John Offerdahl and Shawn Wooden. Wonder if Merc will commandeer a mic and debut a new anti-Titans rap song? 

     Original post:

  There should be a playoff atmosphere at Dolphin Stadium today, for you Dolfans with long enough memories to recall what a playoff atmosphere looked or felt like. Dolphins, on a four-game win streak, and visiting Patriots both trying to remain vital in the playoff chase, with the loser taking a big (though not fatal) hit.

     I'm on record forecasting a New England win, which may translate to euphoria among Dolphins fans based on my sad 2008 record on predictions.

     I'll be at The Joe working today's game and live-blogging from it and we welcome you to hop on board for the ride as usual. Comments welcome here before, during and of course after today's big game.

     Then, about 30 minutes following the game, look for our latest edition of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll in a separate blog post.

November 21, 2008

Miami Dolphin Fight Song (with poll), Week 12 picks, Norman Braman, pregnant men, Tofurky & more

     The latest round of sports and unsportsmanlike conduct, all free and just for you...

    [Saturday evening update: With results today, UM officially eliminated from ACC title hunt].

    Killing or saving Dolphin Fight Song: You know the one. "Miami has the the Dolphins, the greatest football team! We take the ball from goal to goal like no one's ever seen..." (Or go here to hear it by then clicking under the Dolphin logo). Some love it. Some loathe it. How about you? Weigh in on our poll and drop a comment of praise or condemnation.

     Pats beat Dolphins (even though game hasn't been played yet): I see Miami losing Sunday to New England, 27-23, damaging, but not fatally, the Dolphins' playoff hopes. Click on Week 12 Gems for all this week's picks, and on Old-School MVP for a column on why ancient QBs Kurt Warner and Brett Favre are the big two in the league MVP hunt.   

     Know when to quit, Braman: Can somebody please hand Norman Braman a white flag? Or familiarize him with the phrase "losing gracefully"? The latest court ruling on Friday denied Braman's final point in his protracted litigation aimed at stopping the Marlins' new stadium -- declaring that a public referendum on the stadium (Braman's obesession) was not necessary. Bottom line? Mr. Rich Guy's ill-fated vanity suit has cost taxpayers and the team wasted money and time, and made it questionable whether the new ballpark can now be ready for Opening Day 2011 as first planned. Thanks, Norman! I assume the hopeless, nuisance appeal comes next, but perhaps you'll surprise us with a noble concession.

     HAaa1pregnantmaney man, you are positively glowing!: Is it OK to make fun of The Pregnant Man? (Shown here shaving). I say yes, that a transgender person who is preggo despite transmogrifying into a man is fair game for ribbing. Or maybe I am being Neanderthal and insensitive. I don't even know he's really pregnant. I look like that after a long weekend of beer-drinking. Actually I tend to think Thomas Beatie has willingly freakified himself and hopped the publicity train (Oprah et al) with the idea of movie rights, a book deal and a future of hopefully never having to find a real job. He is the Joe the Plumber of Pregnant Men. Again, I may be wrong. I just pray the father isn't Michael Jackson.

      Early Super Bowl odds: Giants favored over Titans by three points (with over/under of 43), in the earliest Super Bowl projection I have seen, out this week by Bodog sportsbook manager Richard Gardner. Bodog's current odds on winning the AFC East are Jets even, Dolphins 2-1, Patriots 5-2 and Bills 14-1. 

Aaa1tofurkey      Vegetarians besmirch turkey's good name: Any vegetarians out there? Explain the logic of this: the product, Tofurky, tofu vaguely shaped like a turkey so that, what, you can pretend you are eating turkey while morally abhorring the idea? What's next? Bean sprouts elaborately entwined, topiary-style, to resemble a lamb? If you're going to be a vegetarian, be a vegetarian! If you want nothing to do with turkey, don't be attaching your tofu to the turkey's grand coattails.

     Check back. Will be adding more stuff here later.

G11: Georgia Tech 41, Miami Hurricanes 23; plus FIU, Gators, FAU, Noles & more

     Well, 41-23 in some contexts is or at least seems like a pretty competitive game. Anyone who saw Aaa1canes_4 tonight's UM loss at Georgia Tech, either here at cold Bobby Dodd Stadium like me or on TV, sadAaa1gtly knows otherwise.

     This was a rout despite Miami's cosmetic late scoring. One might even call it an embarrassing defeat, considering the national stage, considering all that was at stake, and considering UM's defense gave up 472 rushing yards, the second-most in school history.

     Tonight doesn't erase the progress Miami has made this season; rather it tells you how much work there is yet to do.

     Comments on tonight's UM game welcome here.

     In-game chatter:   

     Miami adds a make-the-score-seem-less-embarrassing late TD for 41-23 with 1:18 left.    

     Leonard Hankerson's TD catch and a failed two-point conversion draw Miami to within 41-16 with 10:22 to play

     OK we have officially segued from mere rout to extreme embarrassment. It's 41-10 now, after the latest long scoring run. Still 2:07 left in the third. Anybody up for calling it a game and going home?

     Tech now up 34-10 after yet another TD capping yet another series in which Miami has no answers fro the home team's ground game. With 4:08 left in the third quarter, Canes now dialing 1-800-MIRACLE.

     UM finally scores a TD, 18 yards from Robert Marve to Dedrick Epps, who'd also caught a 30-yard pass in the dirve. Now 27-10, mid-3Q. Still hope.

     Tech opens 3Q with 30-yard FG for 27-3 lead.

     Second-half underway. Not as much live stuff except score updates from me now. Too busy slaying the beastly deadline writing for the newspaper. (It's what we did before the Internet). Can the Canes fashion a huge comeback?

     Halftime. So far, an ass whuppin'. How else to put it?

     Another 54-yard run for Tech. Geez. UM's defensive front is AWOL. Leads to a 6-yard TD run and a now-comfortable 24-3 Tech lead with 1:59 to play in first half. If this isn't embarrassing, it's headed that way. Fast.

     Well, Miami got close for about 18 seconds. Georgia Tech rips off a 58-yard TD run to go back up 17-3, now with 6:01 left in the half. UM's run defense is getting battered.

     Graig Cooper TD run from 7 killed by illegal procedure. UM settles for 24-yard FG to cut Tech lead to 10-3 with 6:19 left 2Q.    

     Jacory Harris in at QB for UM. With Randy Shannon, you can't be sure if that's related to the Marve pick-six or if it was part of the pre-planned rotation. And now Harris is intercepted! And with UM threatening, too. Terrible start for the Canes and their young QBs.

     Robert Marve interception returned 36 yards for a TD by Michael Johnson. Awful pick. Right at the defender. UM has dug itself quite a little hole now, 13:28 left in first half.

     Big defensive play  by UM's Sean Spence forces Tech punt as first quarter turns to second at 3-nil, GT.

     Second straight punt for Canes. Even worse, that smoked brisket I had in the pressbox before the game is beginning to reintroduce itself unfavorably in an occasional burp. Tech busts another long run, this one 30 yards. Oy!

    Canes toughen, force 21-yard FG attempt. Good for 3-0 home lead with 5:53 left in 1Q.

     After UM punt to start game, Tech just busted a 35-yard run to the Miami 23. Anthony Reddick laid flat on a stiffarm. Now Jackets at the 9, first and goal. Miami needs to figure out stopping this tripl-option attack.

     Game on!

     Question: When does a 7:30 p.m. game start closer to 8 than to 7:30? Answer: When Greg Cote is on deadline!

     They just announced the temperature at kickoff is 48. Even though there hasn't been a kickoff yet. (Sorry about being obsessed by the weather. Soon at least now I'll have a game to distract me).

     Checking in from The Dodd. Not as cold as I'd heard -- not yet, anyway. Low 50s, maybe? Jason Fox back at LT for The U. Canes 13-1 all-time in ESPN Thursday nighters. Late, slow-arriving crowd.

     Original post:

     Tonight in Atlanta, hot meets cold. The 23rd-ranked Miami Hurricanes on a five-game winning streak foray into temperatures expected in the 20s to face Georgia Tech. Both teams are 7-3 and this one is for the lead in the ACC Coastal Division, with a shot at the conference title the possible eventual prize.

     Tech's defense has struggled lately and UM is on a roll and I do think the Canes will win, but I say so with great caution and some doubt. The Georgians have won three straight in this series, and the weather can't but be a disadvantage for the men of Coral Gables.

Aaa1freeze_3     Also the weather can't but be a disadvantage for me. South Florida Boy is up here to cover the game ... in a bleepin' open-air press box! Open-air press box? What is this, 1947? At right is an artist's rendering of how I will look tonight at approximately 10:56 p.m., hunched over my useless, frozen laptop trying to beat both frostbite and a bitter deadline. (Think of me, pouring hot chocolate over my head to stay alive as coworkers use pickaxes to frantically chip away at the block of ice encasing my feet, as you mull the glamorous life of a sports writer).

     Comments welcome here before, during and of course after tonight's crucial UM game. I'll be live-blogging until which time my purple fingers snap off and lay useless on my keyboard.

     Comments also invited here later on the weekend's other Division 1 state-college (plus one) college football action:

     No. 4 Florida 70, The Citadel 19: Oh my. Gators could name their score. G'villers now 10-1 and still dreaming national championship.

     Central Florida 28, Memphis 21: Knights now 4-7.

     Arkansas State 28, FAU 14: Howard and the Owls (sounds like a '50s doo-wop group) drop to 5-6, with bowl hopes now on life support.

     Louisiana-Monroe 31, FIU 27: Very disappointing loss for The Int'l, erasing faint bowl hopes. Still a nice turnaround season for Super Mario Brothers. (Yes, I am still pushing that nickname! Dammit.).

     Florida State 37, No. 25 Maryland 3: The result? Not surprising. The margin? Shocking, for a near pick-'em game. Noles, now 8-3, feather their bowl position in the crazy, nobody-wants-to-win ACC.

     No. 5 Oklahoma 65, No. 2 Texas Tech 21: Sooners were favored in our non-state special, but nobody expected such a rout. The new BCS ranking will be very, very interesting.

     Connecticut (7-3) @ South Florida (6-4), 8 p.m. Sunday: The Bulls went from national Cinderella to major disappointment pretty fast, didn't they?