AFC East: Phil Dawson
The Miami Dolphins were in a must-win situation Sunday at home.
They never led the Cleveland Browns in Sun Life Stadium, but the Dolphins never were down more than a score, either. Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne found Anthony Fasano for a touchdown with 10:27 left to tie it at 10.
With 1:34 left remaining, the Dolphins took over on their own 25-yard line and had a timeout. At a minimum, they appeared on their way to overtime.
Ronnie Brown ran for 1 yard.
Henne threw an incomplete pass to Fasano.
Now the Dolphins were in a spot. They had a third-and-9 situation with 65 seconds left. The Browns still had all three timeouts.
Henne threw a pass to his left toward popular third-down target Davone Bess. Browns defensive end David Bowens stuck up a paw and deflected the ball. Defensive back Mike Adams snagged the ricochet and returned it to the Dolphins' 2-yard line.
Three kneeldowns later, Phil Dawson kicked a 23-yard field goal to deny the Dolphins another home victory.
What it means: Any realistic hope the Dolphins had for the postseason evaporated in defeat. They slipped back to .500 for the fifth time, failing to win consecutive games for the first time since Week 2. The Dolphins lost for the seventh time in their past eight home games.
Play of the game: On a third-and-9 play from Miami's 26-yard line and 1:05 on the clock, Chad Henne's pass was batted by former Miami defensive lineman David Bowens at the line and caromed to Cleveland safety Mike Adams, who returned it to the 2-yard line. Phil Dawson drilled the chip shot as the clock struck 0:00.
Henne inconsistent: After one of his best pro games last week, Henne perhaps had his worst. He completed 16 of 32 passes for 174 yards and one touchdown with three interceptions. His 37.8 passer rating was the lowest of his career.
Dolphins negate Hillis: Browns running back Peyton Hillis managed just 57 yards and 3.2 yards a carry, while Dolphins duo Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams combined for 98 yards and 3.8 per attempt.
Long ball: Dan Carpenter set a club record with a 60-yard field goal at the end of the first half. Only four kicks in the history of the NFL have been longer.
Wake makes noise: Dolphins outside linebacker Cameron Wake picked up another 1.5 sacks, giving him an even dozen for the season. He can go ahead and arrange his tickets to Honolulu.
What's next: The Dolphins will play their first intra-divisional game in 10 weeks. They'll visit the New York Jets on Sunday at the Meadowlands in a spoiler role.
On Tuesday, I ranked the top 20 AFC East stories for 2008.
To continue the divisional season review, these were the 10 most memorable games involving AFC East teams.
|Al Bello/Getty Images|
|In his return to the Meadowlands, Chad Pennington defeated his former team.|
1. Pennington's revenge: With the division title on the line in the season finale, Chad Pennington returned to the Meadowlands and showed up the Jets, 24-17. He went 22 of 30 for 200 yards and two touchdowns against his former team, while Brett Favre threw three ugly interceptions to punctuate the Jets' collapse.
2. Jets knock off Titans: The Jets looked like world beaters in Week 12. They traveled to Nashville and not only handed the Titans their first defeat, but also made it look rather easy, 34-13. The Jets' offense seemed like it had found itself, with Favre and Thomas Jones executing a balanced attack. The Jets' run defense was scary.
3. Wildcat unleashed: The Dolphins, hurting with a 0-2 start and playing in Foxborough, Mass., shocked the NFL in Week 3. In the unbalanced-line, direct-snap offense, Ronnie Brown ran for 113 yards and four touchdowns and passed for another touchdown. The performance against the defending AFC champs was so devastating, versions of the Wildcat were installed by several teams.
4. Grieving Cassel riddles Raiders: Two days before his father's funeral -- and with every victory precious for the Patriots' playoff hopes -- Matt Cassel answered doubts about whether he would be mentally able to play. On the road and in the rain, Cassel threw four touchdown passes to beat the Raiders 49-26.
5. Jets edge Pats in sudden death: On Thursday night in Week 11, Cassel rolled right and found Randy Moss in the end zone with eight seconds remaining to force overtime. The play gave Cassel 400 yards and three touchdown tosses, but the Jets won the coin flip and got close enough for Jay Feely to kick the winning 34-yard field goal.
6. Miracle at the Meadowlands II: The Bills were on the verge of a highly likely victory, leading the Jets 27-24 just before the two-minute warning. The Bills asked mistake-prone quarterback J.P. Losman to pass. Blitzing safety Abram Elam forced a fumble, and defensive end Shaun Ellis returned it for a touchdown to win and keep their fading postseason hopes alive.
7. Surging Bills beat Chargers: The Bills' season appeared so promising after Week 7. Amid concerns about concussed quarterback Trent Edwards and a terrible loss to the Cardinals, the Bills emerged from their bye week and handled the Chargers, 23-14. Bills linebacker Kawika Mitchell picked off Philip Rivers in the end zone late in the fourth quarter to put Bills fans on their last high of the year.
8. Buffalo's Monday night misery: Entering Week 11, the Bills' season was about to spiral out of control. They were trying to avoid .500 when the Browns came to town on a Monday night. Edwards plunged in from 1 yard to give the Bills a 27-26 lead with 2:35 to play. Cleveland's Phil Dawson kicked a 56-yard field goal with 1:44 left. Then Rian Lindell missed a 47-yarder that would have won it for Buffalo.
9. Patriots storm back in Seattle: With the Patriots in need of running the table to have a shot at the playoffs, Sammy Morris' fourth-down leap from a yard out gave them their first lead over the Seahawks with 2:44 to go.
10. Cruel wind blows in Buffalo: Wind gusts of 75 mph in Ralph Wilson Stadium created absurd conditions in a season finale with postseason implications. Gales twisted the Ralph Wilson Stadium uprights and kept the ball on the ground. Cassel passed eight times in a 13-0 Patriots victory that eventually was rendered moot by the Dolphins winning the first game on this list.