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Thursday, November 19, 2009
Dolphins offense surges before halftime

By Tim Graham

The Miami Dolphins' offense woke up in the second quarter and looked pretty impressive without Ronnie Brown, taking a 14-3 halftime lead over the Carolina Panthers in Bank of America Stadium.

The display is surprising given Brown's absence and the fact the Dolphins had only three days to devise a strategy that didn't include their most dynamic player.

Although center Jake Grove nearly short-circuited the drive with a pair of penalties, the Dolphins went 81 yards on nine plays for a touchdown with 3:57 left in the half.

The series was dotted by big plays. Chad Henne found Brian Hartline for 36 yards. On the next play, Ricky Williams ripped off a 17-yard run and closed it out with a 14-yard catch and run on third down.

The drive also marked the first NFL touches for Lex Hilliard, and he was remarkable. His first NFL carry went for 13 yards, but a Grove holding penalty erased it. But Hilliard contributed maybe the biggest play of the drive when he burst up the middle for 18 yards to convert a third-and-16.

Williams scored his second touchdown out of a Wildcat play. The Dolphins removed Henne from the game and inserted an extra blocker to help Williams make a 1-yard leap to the pylon just before the intermission.

Miami entered the game ranked fourth in run offense, but has leaned on the pass more than usual. Henne has attempted 18 passes, but running backs Williams, Lex Hilliard and Lousaka Polite have rushed a combined 11 times.