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Thursday, November 19, 2009
Rapid Reaction: Fins 24, Panthers 17



In previewing Thursday night's game against the Carolina Panthers, I noted the Miami Dolphins would have to dig deep to win without star running back Ronnie Brown.

Little did we know they would have to dredge the depths of their roster to pull it off.

The raggedy Dolphins found a way to defeat the Panthers 24-17 in Bank of America Stadium. The Dolphins have fought back to .500 after a 0-3 start and remain in the playoff picture.

Aside from getting shredded by the Panthers' ground game and a harrowing finish, the Dolphins were convincing in light of significant personnel problems.

The Dolphins had only three days to concoct a game plan sans Brown, their leading rusher and Wildcat triggerman. Ricky Williams responded with a three-score game. He ran for 119 yards and two touchdowns and caught two passes for 19 yards and a touchdown.

Chad Henne completed 17 of 29 pass attempts for 172 yards and no interceptions. Joey Porter recorded his first multi-sack game of the year.

Even more remarkable than winning without Brown, however, was the Dolphins' ability to survive a series of injuries throughout the game.

Center Jake Grove was hurt 70 seconds into the third quarter. Grove's replacement, Joe Berger, got hurt with about 10 minutes left in the game. Nate Garner, who started the game at left guard for Justin Smiley, became the third center. He went down with a leg injury with about five minutes left.

Got all that?

The biggest injury, however, was on defense. Nose tackle Jason Ferguson suffered a knee injury on the final play of the third quarter. He was carted to the locker room and didn't return.

Williams mysteriously didn't finish the game. Lex Hilliard took the critical carries when Miami tried to kill the clock in the waning moments. Williams appeared fine on the sideline, but was spotted having a serious talk with the team's training staff after his third touchdown. We'll update if there's an issue.

Those injuries could resonate for the rest of the season, but for now -- playing on Thursday gives the Dolphins a weekend off -- they can feel good about staying in the playoff hunt.