Posted: 9:29 am Monday, September 13th, 2010
By Post Staff
OK, so Brandon Marshall’s first game in a Dolphins uniform wasn’t exactly spectacular.
The South Beach Beast, as he likes to call himself, had a nice performance in Sunday’s 15-10 win over Buffalo, catching eight of 13 passes headed his way for 53 yards, an average of 6.6 yards per catch, well below his career average of 12.16 per catch. He also dropped a would-be 40-yard pass from Chad Henne, letting the ball go right through his breadbasket.
But Henne knows that Marshall’s impact is felt beyond the stat sheet.
“There’s a lot of things out there that some of the guys don’t see,” Henne said, “when he makes blocks for our running game, makes big plays in the passing game.”
The Dolphins didn’t just get Marshall to catch touchdowns. They traded for him to make a key block on a Ricky Williams sweep, which he did Sunday. They traded for Marshall because he picks up first downs – four on Sunday. They traded for Marshall to help open up the middle of the field, like it did for Anthony Fasano on a 21-yard seam pass on the Dolphins’ only touchdown drive. They traded for Marshall to help their other receivers, like Davone Bess, who caught six passes for 51 yards and was wide open on several routes.
Marshall’s performance wasn’t exactly epic, but his eight catches were the most he’s ever had in a season-opener – he had four catches for 27 yards last year against Cincinnati, didn’t play in 2008 (but had 18 catches for 166 yards in week 2), caught five passes for 52 and a touchdown at Buffalo in 2007, and didn’t play in 2006.
“I thought he was really good today though, run after catch and catching the ball in some tight areas,” Tony Sparano said.
Marshall had as many catches Sunday (eight) as he did in the entire preseason. He and Henne didn’t click as well as they had hoped during training camp, but it didn’t matter much on Sunday.
“Like I said, I don’t believe in the whole chemistry thing,” Marshall said.
The Dolphins called one “green light special,” as Sparano calls his big plays designed for Marshall, and he dropped a fluttering pass that got caught up in the wind. Marshall didn’t catch it Sunday, but his coach has faith.
“It was a hard deal. It was a little bit underthrown, but we’ll make that play,” Sparano said.
One Buffalo player certainly noticed a difference with the Dolphins — safety Donte Whitner, who said Marshall was much more physical than the previous player who wore No. 19, Ted Ginn Jr.
“Ginn, last year, he was a guy that didn’t want to break those tackles across the middle on those short routes,” said Whitner, Ginn’s good friend and former Ohio State teammate. “Marshall’s a big guy. That’s his game – catch short routes, make people miss, get up field. That’s the only difference.”
Other News and notes from Sunday’s game:
Game coverage from the Post
Greg Stoda: Bigger tests await, but bottom line for the Miami Dolphins is that a win is a win
Brian 1: Dolphins’ aggressive defense shuts down Buffalo Bills QB Trent Edwards, rookie RB C.J. Spiller
Brian 2: Recently promoted Miami Dolphins cornerback Jason Allen has a good outing
Myself 1: Dolphins escape with 15-10 victory despite missed opportunities by offense
Myself 2: Ronnie Brown shows no signs of broken foot that halted his 2009 season
Allen Eyestone: Photos
RB Ronnie Brown
Showing no signs of rust or a lingering injury after suffering a Lisfranc fracture in his foot last year, Brown churned out the tough yards on Sunday, rushing for 65 yards on 5 yards per carry, catching two passes for 20 yards and scoring the Dolphins’ only touchdown on a 1-yard dive. Marshall may have gotten most of the headlines this summer, but Brown is still the linchpin of the offense.
WR Davone Bess
D-Bess came up huge in the fourth quarter, catching three straight passes at one point for a total of 29 yards, plus a crucial 11-yard catch on third-and-7. Bess entered the fourth quarter with just one catch for 1 yard, but finished the game with six for 51.
LB Karlos Dansby
The Dolphins’ other big acquisition this summer proved he is worth every penny of his $22 million contract, finishing the game with a team-high eight tackles, three quarterback hits, a tackle for loss and an absolute kill shot on a sack of Trent Edwards in the first quarter, in which he sprinted into the backfield untouched and nailed the quarterback. “I was trying to hide behind Cameron (Wake), because he’s such a threat,” Dansby said. “So I was just hiding and hiding, and here I come.”
S Chris Clemons
One of the Dolphins’ big question marks entering the season, Clemons, a 2009 fifth-round pick out of Clemson, was everywhere on Sunday, finishing with five tackles, two for loss, and keeping C.J. Spiller and the Bills’ running game in check.
P Brandon Fields
His punts weren’t always pretty – the stiff wind at Ralph Wilson Stadium played a part in that – but Fields was effective on his seven punts, averaging a net of 34 yards.. Only three were returned, for a total of 30 yards, and his punt that was downed inside the 1-yard line led to Buffalo’s safety and ended any hopes of a Bills victory.
Defensive Coordinator Mike Nolan
Coached a unit that sacked Edwards three times, hit him eight more times, batted down seven passes, had 10 tackles for loss, held Buffalo to 23 minutes of possession time and held the Bills to 166 total yards – 91 of which were gained on one fourth-quarter drive.
DE Jared Odrick left the game in the second half with a leg injury, and wore an ice pack on his right ankle after the game, walking with a noticeable limp. … LB Channing Crowder, who has missed the last four weeks with a groin injury, was left home.
Rookie outside linebacker Koa Misi got the start after Ikaika Alama-Francis, who was inactive Sunday, became ill on Saturday night. “I don’t know what he has, he just looks like death,” Misi said. … Newcomer Bobby Carpenter was a surprise starter at inside linebacker over Tim Dobbins, and finished with one tackle while playing the majority of snaps. … To little surprise, Chad Pennington was the backup quarterback, and Tyler Thigpen was third. … Cornerback Sean Smith, who lost his starting job to Jason Allen, was the only non-quarterback not to play on either team. … Clifton Smith, signed on Tuesday, returned both kickoffs and punts. … In obvious passing downs, Tyrone Culver served as the sixth defensive back.
– Sparano, on the win: “It’s a good first step. It validates some of the things we’ve been talking about.”
– Henne had an OK game on Sunday – not good, not bad, OK. He was 21 of 34 for just 182 yards and no touchdowns, but most importantly to Sparano, Henne minimized his mistakes. The Dolphins didn’t turn the ball over, and committed just three penalties for 15 yards. “There was a level of frustration there because there were some opportunities we felt we could have taken advantage of, and we didn’t hit,” Sparano said. “We were pretty clean from a penalty standpoint. We just didn’t get the ball down the field in this ballgame, and a large part of that had to do with what they were doing.” Henne was hard on himself, but only because he knows he can do better. “I’ve got to put the ball in better places and become a little bit more accurate,” he said. “Overall, it wasn’t pretty, but we got some things done.”
– Miami dominated everywhere but the scoreboard. They out-gained Buffalo 296-166, held the ball for 36:53, converted 8-of-18 third downs (compared to 3-of-14 for Buffalo). “That’s Miami’s MO – try to get up early and milk the clock as much as they can,” Bills safety George Wilson said. “Running the ball, high percentage throws, screens and quick game. They did a good job of it today.”
– Week 1 is always tough, especially when playing a team like the Bills, with an entirely new coaching staff. “We did the best we could to get ready for them, and they threw some stuff out there that we kinda weren’t really prepared for,” Bess said. “But coach put us in position to be prepared at all times.”
– Center Joe Berger on the cohesion of the offensive line, which allowed three sacks but mostly provided Henne time to throw and solid running lanes for Brown and Williams. “I think we communicated well. There’s some stuff that can be worked on. We’ll see the film tomorrow, fix up the little stuff.”
– Several Bills raved about the Dolphins’ defense after the game. “They did a good job of as soon as I was there, they were right down on top of my toes,” said Spiller, held to 14 yards on 11 touches. “A couple plays I was a shoestring away from making a big run.” Said Edwards: “They did a great job of getting into our backfield, wrapping people up and causing negative plays and not allowing us to get into our rhythm.”
– Misi can sleep better tonight after notching his first NFL sack. “Felt great. I’ve been wanting to get one of those since I started in the preseason,” Misi said.
– The Dolphins’ defensive dominance — or Buffalo’s offensive futility — was staggering. With 9:32 left in the fourth quarter, the Bills had 72 yards of total offense. The Dolphins also dropped two easy pick-sixes — one by Allen, one by Benny Sapp — and had a third interception overturned.
– Instead of going for it on fourth down or trying to punt, Bills coach Chan Gailey ordered his team to take a safety late in the game with his team backed up on its own 1 yard line. The Bills tried a high floating kick on the safety punt, but Marshall fair caught it to essentially end the game. Gailey’s explanation: “To me, that gave us a better chance to win the game. If you give it to them there, in my opinion, there’s no chance to win. If they score a touchdown you’ve got no chance.”
– Asked if the Dolphins showed a lot more on defense Sunday than the did in the preseason, Dansby said, “Not that much. We still got a lot we didn’t show.” Dansby said he noticed Edwards got “happy feet” after Dansby’s big sack in the first quarter.
– Five more drops for the Dolphins’ receivers, including two by Brian Hartline. This is a stat they definitely need to fix.
– The Dolphins and Bills joined several teams this weekend in participating in a “one finger” display before the game, a sign of solidarity in the players’ battle against the owners in the impending labor battle. Dansby said it was a “[re-game, spur of the moment type thing," and that most players participate. "We said it's something we need
to do. We got to stick together, man, 'cause like I said, the situation is tough on both sides."
-- Buffalo attempted a 63-yard field goal with Rian Lindell at the end of the first half, which would have tied an NFL record had it not fallen way short.
-- The Dolphins won their first season-opener since 2005. They also snapped their five-game losing streak at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Quotes of the Day
"They are physical, they are fast, they are well coached and they are coming to play."
-- Bills QB Trent Edwards' assessment of the Dolphins' defense.
"We didn't shoot ourselves in the foot. We played our gameplan, played smart, tough, disciplined football. That's the type of football that we have to play week in and week out."
-- CB Jason Allen, on why he thinks the Dolphins' defense played so well.
"Better to learn from a win than to learn from a loss."
-- Center Joe Berger.
"We were preaching that as soon as we got into OTAs and minicamp - start fast. A win right now will build some confidence."
-- QB Chad Henne on the importance of starting with a win. The Dolphins started 0-2 and 0-3 in Sparano's first two seasons.
"Did Chan Gailey eat a bunch of Dumb Pills here?"
-- Dolphins radio broadcaster Jim Mandich, on Gailey's decision to take the safety.
Dolphins at Minnesota (0-1), Sunday, Sept. 19, 1 p.m.