[Note: The latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll is up and running in a separate blogpost just above this one. Vote!]
FINAL: Maddening game. Maddening team. Playoff hopes all but dead now. Miami must win next week and hope that five teams all lose. The good news? The Colts losing this evening -- largely because Peyton Manning was rested much of the game -- assured the unique distinction of Miami's 1972 Perfect Season.
4Q: Onside kick fails. Miami out of timeouts. Game. Playoff hope expires ..... Miami within 27-20 with 2:30 left on Dan Carpenter 38-yard FG ..... Down 27-17, 6:19 left, Dolphins need quick-strike TD. Instead, team punts with 5:22 left. Fans leaving in droves ..... Lex Hilliard 10-yard TD catch from Chad Henne and Miami within 27-17 with 9:25 to play. Ted Ginn went up and fought for 35-yard catch in drive. No, seriously. Can the Dolphins do it!?
3Q: Quarter waning, Miami moving in dribs and drabs. Need big plays, chunk yards - and got 'em in 62-yard TD pass to Ted Ginn. But tripping penalty vs. Lousaka Polite negates score. Man that hurts! ..... Miami challenging incomplete pass ruling, claiming Dolphin fumble recovery. Then refs decide play is not reviewable! Earlier in drive Gibril Wilson dropped interception that your grandmother would have caught ..... Yeremiah Bell with a big interception and 29-yard return off deflection by Kendall Langford. But takeaway goes for naught as drive fizzles and Dan Carpenter misses 54-yard FG try ..... Miami got what it desperately needed: A TD drive to begin second half, culminating with Lex Hilliard's 2-yard run on a handoff from Wildcatting Pat White. Ricky Williams shaken up on drive. Miami still in a deep hole, but a glimmer of hope now, at least ..... Urban Meyer has changed his mind, now saying he is taking "indefinitive leave" from Gators, not resigning. Must be getting career advice from Brett Favre.
HALF: The bad news? Miami is being embarrassed at home, was outgained 306 yards to 107 in the first half and is watching its slim playoff hopes all but disappearing. The good news? Dolphins get kickoff to start second half!
2Q: The Dolphins score! The Dolphins score! Last-minute 27-yard Dan Carpenter FG puts Miami on the board ..... Houston adds chipshot FG to make it 27-the 0 ..... Miami challenge claiming Vontae Davis interception. The bad news? Even if Dolphs win, they'd get ball at 1-yard. Miami loses challenge, and a timeout ..... Dolphins punt after a Davone Bess drop. I cannot remember another Dolphins game this important starting this badly. A flat-out embarrassment so far ..... Here's the thing. If the Colts or Saints are down 24-0 early in the second, you don't dare write them off. But Miami's offense is not designed for this. Not enough weapons. No Andre Johnson. They rallied against the Titans, true. But today that seems unlikely ..... Houston parlays interception into 17-yard scoring run by somebvody named "Arian Foster" and it's an enormous 24-0 dicth for Miami. Wow. An unfathomably awful start for the desperate Dolphins ..... Pass deflects off Ricky Williams' hands and is intercepted. And the nightmare continues ..... Crowd in an ornery mood. Just booed Ted Ginn running o.b. on kick return ..... Jacoby Jones 44-yard scoring pass from Matt Schaub, thanks to two missed open-field tackles. Brief but audible booing, and well deserved. Must win. At home. Playoff hope at stake. And Miami a no-show so far.
1Q: Houston 127 1Q yards to Miami's 37 ..... Second straight Miami punt as quarter winds down, and some early, scattered booing ..... Andre Johnson 10-yard TD catch off 4th-and-1 gamble. Houston passing getting better of Miami secondary so far. Drive included a 31-yard pass play to Jacoby Jones ..... Dolphins first possession expires in a punt. The pressbox announcer is one of those people who prounounces the word Houston as if it begins with a "Y." Annoying ..... Kris Brown 49-yard FG and Houston with first blood, 3-0 ..... Dolphins win toss, defer to second half. Mixed feelings about that. Shouldn;t a team have enough confidence in its offense to seek and assume an early lead?
PREGAME: A woman named "Orianthi" played the national anthem on electric guitar, Jimi Hendrix-esque. Wanted to hate it. Loved it ..... Kim Bokamper and Don McNeal are honorary captains ..... Crowd seems unsually into it. Better be. A "must win" that actually is ..... My two sons and some friends of theirs are at the game. One of my sons is weraing a Christmas goft: a T-shirt that depicts a Dolphin logo p---ing on the logos of the Jets, Patriots and Bills. The gift was not from me, by the way ..... Ted Ginn starting at WR over Brian Hartline. Never let it be said they aren't giving Junior a fair shot to save himself ..... Sean Smith today sets club record for starts by a rookie cornerback with 15. Old mark: 14 by Curtis Johnson and His Magnificent Afro in 1970, and Travis Daniels in 2005 ..... Have arrived at JoeRobbie-ProPlayer-LandShark-SunLife-YourNameHere Stadium, inhaled a tub of lucky popcorn and am ready to roar!
Various computer models generally put the 7-7 Dolphins' playoff chances at between 15 and 25 percent. Lose today and they'll flatline at zero: elimination. Win today and they'll skyrocket, how high depending on other results. Call it a must win, then. Literally.
I'm on record predicting Miami to keep postseason hope alive, 24-20. The also 7-7 Texans aren't much more than Matt Schaub-to-Andre Johnson, so if Miami can at least reasonably contain Johnson they'll be in good shape. The Bodog over/under on Johnson's yards today 100.5. Miami could live with that.
By the way, Bodog's updated Super Bowl odds have it Colts 11-4, Saints 3-1, Chargers 11-2, Vikings 7-1, Eagles 9-1 and Patriots 10-1 for the top six. Dolphins are 125-1, but on the radar at least, and needing a win today to stay there.
Your thoughts on today's game invited here before, during and afterward.
Join us right here just prior to kickoff for the commencement of America's favorite Unofficial Semi-Live Boutique Blog. I'll be reporting from JoeRobbieDolphinProPlayerLandSharkSunLifeYourNameHere Stadium.
Later, watch for the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll in a separate blogpost soon after the final whistle.