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Miami, FL (Sports Network) - Phil Dawson kicked the game-winning field goal with time running out, following a late interception of Chad Henne, to lift the Cleveland Browns to a 13-10 victory over the Miami Dolphins.
With just over a minute remaining, the Dolphins were deep in their own territory and not having much success. The game seemed destined for overtime, but Henne's pass was blocked and bounced to Browns defensive back Mike Adams.
Adams returned the ball to the two-yard line, and after Cleveland knelt the ball three times to run the clock down, Dawson kicked a 23-yard try through the uprights to give the Browns (5-7) their second consecutive win.
Jake Delhomme, starting his second game in a row in place of injured rookie Colt McCoy, completed 24-of-34 passes for 217 yards and a touchdown to Benjamin Watson. The tight end finished with 10 catches for 100 yards.
Henne passed for 174 yards and a score on 16-of-32 efficiency, but was intercepted three times as the Dolphins (6-6) fell to 1-5 at home this season. They played without wideout Brandon Marshall, who was inactive with a hamstring injury.
Dan Carpenter set a Miami franchise record by kicking a 60-yard field goal, though had a 41-yard attempt blocked on the game's opening drive.
The struggling offenses then engaged in a series of possessions that ended in punts. Of the teams' 14 first-half drives, eight ended in a punt and two ended with a Henne interception. His second pick came when he threw off-the-mark to Davone Bess and Abram Elam came down with the ball.
Elam returned the pick 18 yards to the Miami 28, and the Browns reached the 14 before Dawson kicked a 32-yard try with 1:43 left.
The Dolphins got on the board thanks to Carpenter's 60-yarder, which had just enough distance to get past the crossbar with two seconds on the clock.
Cleveland's only touchdown drive occurred late in the third quarter, when the Browns went 94 yards in six plays. The biggest gain was Delhomme's 37-yard pass to Mohamed Massaquoi, while Delhomme found Watson for a three-yard touchdown with 1:16 remaining.
Miami countered with its own TD drive, an 11-play, 80-drive progression. Henne finished it nearly five minutes into the final quarter with an 11-yard pass to tight end Anthony Fasano.
Browns rookie cornerback Joe Haden recorded an interception for the fourth consecutive game. That is the longest streak by a Browns player since Ernie Kellerman had a pickoff in six consecutive games in 1968...Dawson recorded the 14th game-winning field goal of his career...Cleveland linebacker Titus Brown left the game with a head injury and did not return...The Dolphins have lost three in a row to the Browns.
After a first down, Miami stalled at their 45, and the Browns got the ball back at their 20 after a touchback.
For the first time all day, the Browns then put together a sustained drive, begun with a 20-yard Delhomme-to-Watson pass. The drive stalled with a Miami sack at the Dolphins’ 29 — and Phil Dawson missed from 47. Way to get RID OF THE BALL when you are deep in opponent’s territory rather than take a sack and have to try almost a 50-yarder.
After a nice drive for Cleveland, the game remained tied at three.
Miami took over at its own 37 after the missed field goal try. The Dolphins used a Henne pass to move into Cleveland territory, but the Browns stuffed Miami at the 46, and rather than try another monstrous field goal, Miami pinned the Browns at the six-yard line with a punt.
Jake Delhomme went to work then, with two long completions moving Cleveland into Miami territory, and a 33-yarder set the Browns up in the Red Zone at the Dolphins’ three. The 94-yard drive was capped off by a three-yard Ben Watson touchdown catch, and the Browns had the largest lead of the day at 10-3 with little more than a minute to go in the quarter.
As the period ended the Dolphins had advanced into Cleveland territory to the 46.
As the second quarter started, Jake Delhomme hit Ben Watson with a key third-down pass to give the Browns field position at the Cleveland 30. But then — again — the Browns stalled, and Cleveland booted the ball back to Miami at the Dolphins’ 24.
Joe Hadcen immediately intercepted Chad Henne, setting the Browns up at the Cleveland 36-yard line. The “reward” for this turnover was an immediate three-and-out. Once again, a punt to the Dolphins, who this time took over at the Miami 20.
A Miami penalty send the Dolphins backwards, and the Browns were able to hold and get the ball back in what was becoming a Punt Fest at the Cleveland 41 on a nice Josh Cribbs return. If nothing else the Browns had the edge, at this point, in the field position battle.
A Peyton Hillis run gave the Browns a first down in Miami territory as the mid-point of the quarter approached. But then Cleveland stalled again at the Miami 42, just on the outside of realistic field goal range. Reggie Hodges pinned the Dolphins at their own one-yard line, but it was an opportunity missed.
Two Miami first downs followed before an Abram Elam interception put the Browns in business at the Dolphins’ 28 yard line with a little less than four minutes left in the half.
Jake Delhomme hit Ben Watson with another third down conversion as the Browns entered the Red Zone at the Miami 18 just before the two-minute warning was given to both benches.
The Browns stalled at the 14, and Phil Dawson put the first points of the afternoon on the board with a 32-yard field goal with 1:43 left in the half.
After the kickoff the Dolphins moved deep into Cleveland territory, but went backwards to the 46 after a penalty. From the 42, Miami got a 60-yard field goal from Dan Carpenter with two seconds left in the half to send the teams to the intermission tied at 3-3.
The Browns then went three-and-out, giving the Dolphins the ball back at the Miami 18 after a punt. The Browns stopped the Dolphins near midfield and got the ball back with a little more than five minutes to go in the quarter — after a Miami punt — at the Cleveland six-yard line.
Peyton Hillis gave the Browns better field position with a first-down run, but Cleveland once again stalled, and the second punt of the game for the Browns gave Miami the ball at the Dolphins’ 30.
Miami’s running game got rolling again, and a Chad Henne short pass moved Miami to midfield. An incompletion left the Dolphins with 4th and one at the Cleveland 49, Miami chose not to risk it, and punted again to the Browns as the scoreless quarter wound down.
Jake Delhomme in 3-of-4 but for only 11 yards after the opening quarter, while Peyton Hillis has 16 yards on four carries. Miami has five first downs, and the Browns have been held to one
Delhomme, coming off a less than spectacular performance in the close win against the Carolina Panthers, made plenty of comments this week indicating that he knew his role on this team—even going so far as to subtly hint about The Future being Colt McCoy.
That said, many Browns fans were calling for Seneca Wallace to start the game in Miami, but Eric Mangini indicated early and often that if McCoy was unable to go, Delhomme would be his #1 QB.
Though they are currently on the outside looking in, the Miami Dolphins could be the predator when it comes to the playoff race. They’ve managed to keep their heads, and their record above water at 6-5 despite injuries to the starting, and second string quarterbacks, and now, star off season acquisition Brandon Marshall. The team hasn’t even gotten its best performances from its running game either, which is their bread and butter; yet still they cling to post season life. An individual tail back is yet to post a 100 yard rushing game all season. In 2009 back up Ricky Williams had four, and injury prone Ronnie Brown added a pair. Those numbers have not even come close to being replicated in 2010, but it hasn’t slowed the Dolphins down at all.
In fact, they are on pace to have a better season this year than last season. Why? Here are a few reasons.
They are 5-1 on the road: They’ve decorated that category with wins at Green Bay, Oakland, Minnesota, and Tennessee. If the Fins could only be descent at Dolphin’s Stadium, they would be one of the better teams in the AFC. But with the Jets and Patriots being inconveniently located within their division, this is unlikely to occur.
They play great defense: Sixth overall in total defense, and fourth against the pass. In an age where in the NFL the gunslingers dominate the offensive attack, Miami is one of few teams that have figured it out. Permitting just over 201 yards per competition, opposing quarterbacks struggle not only to make explosive plays deep down field, but struggle to move the chains also. Miami has managed 27 sacks in 11 games, 11 of those sacks courtesy of up and coming linebacker Cameron Wake. Free agent signee Karlos Dansby leads the way with 80 tackles.
They have not had stability under center: But they still find ways to put wins in the books. Though the current train of thought is that Tyler Thigpen, with his 21 career games of experience, is not the answer to a playoff run, injured Opening day starter Chad Henne has done a much better job. This team so desperately needs him to play at a high level to have a chance. Having a healthy Brandon Marshall, who can be one of, if not the best receiver in the game at times, would help too.
Don’t look for Miami to get their first 100 yard rushing game against Cleveland on Sunday. The Browns have limited the number of opposing running backs that have gone over the century mark against them.
The Key for Browns is to be multi-dimensional against the Dolphins defense. They play extremely well against the pass, which would lead them to focus in on Peyton Hillis. If the Browns allow them to do that, offensively, they don’t stand much of a chance. But this young Brown’s receiving core acknowledges that they have to become more of an integral part of the team’s offense for more offensive production. The Dolphins, on the other hand, need to get a push up front at the line of scrimmage to increase their winning hopes. Nose tackle Ahtyba Rubin and Shaun Rogers have been penetrating the line, stuffing the run before it even happens. Miami loves to run the ball; they are better off running to the outsides and in the flat.
This will physically be a grind for both teams, as their future battle wounds will clarify. But it is one where the Browns can pull it out, hoping for two in a row.
On one side, it's whos there. On the other, it's who's not.
The Miami Dolphins represent the former, and with the imminent returns of wide receiver Brandon Marshall and defensive end Phillip Merling, that could spell trouble for late-season opponents such as this Sunday's foe, the visiting Cleveland Browns.
Merling was activated Tuesday from the reserve/non-football injury list after being shelved since Aug. 31. Marshall, meanwhile, injured a hamstring during a Week 13 loss to Chicago and was lost for last Sunday's 33-17 defeat of the Oakland Raiders.
Also back for that win was quarterback Chad Henne, who threw for 307 yards in helping the Dolphins climb back over the .500 mark and back into the fringes of contention in the AFC's muddled Wild Card playoff race.
Miami opened the season with two straight wins, followed them with two straight losses, and has since alternated W's and L's. It sits two games off the 8-3 pace of the current leader for the conference's final Wild Card spot, the Pittsburgh Steelers, with five to play, and is three in back of both the New York Jets and New England Patriots, who share the top spot in the AFC East at 9-2.
The Dolphins finish with three divisional games in their final four weeks, including a trip to New York, a home date with Buffalo and a season-ending trip to New England.
"Getting Phillip Merling back [at Wednesday's practice] was really good," Miami head coach Tony Sparano said. "I was kind of kidding those guys. I said, 'Well, the boys are back in town.' We finally got that group together that we've seen in [offseason training activities]."
For Cleveland, the absence of quarterback Colt McCoy is making few feel fonder. The University of Texas rookie was lost to a high ankle sprain during a Week 11 loss to Jacksonville and did not play in last Sunday's 24-23 win over 1-10 Carolina.
Former Panther Jake Delhomme piloted the Browns to that one-point victory and has taken first-team snaps this week while McCoy, who's listed as questionable, endured the recovery process. Head coach Eric Mangini said the youngster has made progress and would be monitored heading into the weekend.
"Colt's moving along, but we'll see how it goes during the week," Mangini said. "From where we were last week to where we are now, we've made a pretty big jump."
Delhomme, who hadn't started since Week 1 because of a high ankle sprain of his own, was 24-of-35 against Carolina with two interceptions, giving him six picks this season against only one touchdown pass.
"There were a ton of good plays there," Mangini said. "[Delhomme] moved the offense really well. I thought the offense as a group, the communication, the way everyone was on the same page comes from the quarterback."
Also prepping for a comeback this week is wide receiver/kick returner Josh Cribbs, who missed the Jacksonville game and failed to make an impact against the Panthers because of a foot injury. Cribbs is also listed as questionable.
"I'm looking forward to getting Josh back out there, not just with [returning] kicks, but at receiver," Mangini said. "He does present some problems teams have to prepare for."
Miami holds a slim 7-6 in its all-time regular-season series with Cleveland, but the Browns have won their last three games played against the Dolphins, all of which were held in Ohio. Cleveland has lost in each of its last three non-playoff stops in Miami, however, and hasn't emerged victorious in South Florida since 1970. The Browns were dealt a 10-7 defeat in their most recent trip to Miami, which took place in 2004, but pinned a 41-31 loss on the Dolphins during the 2007 season in the last showdown between the teams.
The Dolphins have prevailed in each of their two postseason encounters with the Browns, posting AFC Divisional Playoff wins at home in both 1972 and 1985.
Mangini sports a 5-1 lifetime record against Miami, including a 3-0 mark on the road, with all of those game taking place during his time with the New York Jets from 2006-08. Sparano has never previously faced the Browns, but is 1-1 in head-to-head matchups with Mangini as a head coach.
WHEN THE BROWNS HAVE THE BALL
Statistically speaking, the numbers are fairly similar across the line of scrimmage for Cleveland. The Browns average 19.6 points per game while the Dolphins allow 20.5, and generate 310.3 total yards per week while Miami surrenders 305.3. Specifically, Cleveland goes for 193.5 yards per game through the air (28th overall) and 116.8 on the ground (12th overall). Miami, on the other hand, is fourth-best in the league against the pass with a 201.4 yards per game average and 14th in the league against the run with a weekly total of 103.9 yards per game allowed.
Assuming he gets the start, Delhomme tries to follow up on one career game against the Dolphins in which he had 285 passing yards, three touchdowns, one interception and a 97.9 passer rating. Running back Peyton Hillis rushed for 131 yards and three scores last week and added six catches for 63 yards, joining Marshall Faulk as the only player in NFL history to record at least 130 rushing yards, three rushing scores, six receptions and 60 receiving yards in a game. He also joins Hall of Famers Jim Brown and Leroy Kelly as the only Browns to rush for at least 11 touchdowns in season. Elsewhere, wideout Brian Robiskie had a career-best seven catches last week and tight end Benjamin Watson has three career touchdown receptions vs. Miami, his second-most against any opponent.
For Miami, safety Chris Clemons had the first interception of his career in Week 12. Outside linebacker Cameron Wake aims for a third straight game with a sack and can add to his career-best 10 1/2 this season, while linebacker Karlos Dansby leads the team with 80 tackles.
WHEN THE DOLPHINS HAVE THE BALL
Miami scores 18.6 points per week and generates 341.5 total yards per game, totals that are 28th and 16th in the league, respectively. The Browns' average of 20.8 points per week allowed is 13th-best in the NFL, though their yardage total of 356.7 per game is just 22nd. The Dolphins are middle of the road with both the pass and run, compiling 235.6 and 105.9 yards per game to place 14th and 19th, respectively. Cleveland is similarly pedestrian, allowing 237.2 yards a game via the pass and 119.5 on the ground for the 19th and 21st-best numbers.
Since returning to the fold in relief of Chad Pennington a few weeks back, Henne has completed 36-of-58 passes for 547 yards with three touchdowns, two interceptions and a 96.0 passer rating. He posted his third 300-yard passing game of the season last week, as well as the sixth of his career. The Dolphins had a season-high 186 rushing yards last week, with running back Ronnie Brown gaining 101 yards in his last game against the Browns. Backfield mate Ricky Williams had a season-long 45-yard touchdown run last week. Wideout Marshall has a touchdown catch in two of three career meetings with the Browns, while second receiver Davone Bess had the second 100-yard receiving game of his career last week (111 yards). He leads the AFC and ranks second in the NFL with 24 receptions on third down. Wideout Brian Hartline, an Ohio native, has 70-plus receiving yards in each of his past four games and rookie Marlon Moore scored his first touchdown last week on a 57-yard catch.
Among Browns notables on defense, linebacker Matt Roth was selected by the Dolphins in the second round of the 2005 NFL Draft and played in 65 games with Miami. Rookie cornerback Joe Haden, a Florida alum and No. 7 overall pick in last April's draft, is the first Browns player with interceptions in three consecutive games in his first NFL season since Bernie Parrish. Safety Abram Elam had a career-high pair of sacks last week.
For the Browns, the starting quarterback doesn't mean as much to fantasy players as it does to fans of the team. The same cannot be said of Hillis, however, who's become a must-start in all leagues. Watson is starting to come around as a tight end, though kicker Phil Dawson and the Cleveland defense are risky at best. For Miami, Henne faces an iffy secondary and could exceed last week's big numbers if Marshall returns near 100 percent. Ronnie Brown and Williams will split carries and against a better Cleveland run defense, may not fare as well as with Oakland. Marshall and Bess are solid starters, while Hartline, kicker Dan Carpenter and the Dolphins defense range anywhere from lukewarm to comfortable options.
As much as any team in football, the Dolphins are hard to read. Two weeks ago, they were completely inept in a shutout loss to Chicago. Last week, they score 33 points against the Raiders. The return of Henne is likely responsible for the uptick, and with Marshall back and the run game beginning to fire on all cylinders, Miami can suddenly appear dangerous again in the big AFC Wild Card picture. A win here furthers that momentum.
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