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Carpenter Gets His Birthday Kicks

Posted Nov 25, 2012

A day of redemption

Some random thoughts and observations from a game that got off to a slow start but ended in thrilling fashion:

• While the focus on this day, rightfully so, will be on Ryan Tannehill to bring the Dolphins back twice in the fourth quarter, this also was a big day for kicker Dan Carpenter, who found the perfect way to celebrate 27th birthday.

• This hasn’t been a great season for the most accurate kicker in Dolphins history, so you know he had to relish nailing a 43-yard game-winning field goal on the last play of the game.

• We may look back someday at this game at the day Ryan Tannehill really turned the corner and began his ascension into a top-flight quarterback.

• Overstated? Maybe. But consider that this is the first fourth-quarter game-winning drive of his career and it started at Miami’s 10-yard line. Impressive stuff.

• That last drive more than made up for a really bad decision Tannehill made earlier in the fourth quarter when he threw across the field and was picked off in the end zone, only to be bailed out by a roughing-the-passer penalty.

• This also was the day when Tannehill surpassed Dan Marino’s team rookie record for passing yards, although it’s apples and oranges considering the way the game was played then and now. On the very next play after Tannehill broke the record, he ran 19 yards on a nice scramble, his first of two very impressive scrambles in the game. It’s something we wouldn’t mind seeing more of instead of Tannehill staying in the pocket waiting for someone to get open.

• Of course, the Dolphins only had the chance to break the 21-21 tie because their defense stopped Seattle after the Seahawks got to the Miami 40 and it looked though they would be the ones to go for a game-winning field goal.

• The big third-down stop came when Jared Odrick sacked Russell Wilson. Another case of redemption because Odrick had a few shots at Wilson in the backfield but could never get him down until that last play. Score one for sticktoitiveness.

• This also was a day when the running game re-appeared. After a few sub-par weeks, Reggie Bush gained 86 yards and scored on a nifty 22-yard run. Daniel Thomas also ran the ball well and scored a fourth-quarter touchdown.

• The Dolphins showed great resiliency in this game, twice coming back from seven-point deficits in the fourth quarter. First there was an 82-yard drive capped by Thomas’ touchdown run, which was immediately followed by Leon Washington’s 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. It easily could have been a demoralizing blow for the Dolphins, but instead the Dolphins drove 80 yards, tying the score again when Tannehill threw a beautiful 29-yard touchdown pass to tight end Charles Clay.

• Clay, incidentally, was by far a bigger factor than he had been in any game this season and it was needed on a day when starter Anthony Fasano was playing despite nursing a hip injury.

• Odrick got credit for the tackle when the Dolphins stuffed Marshawn Lynch for a 5-yard loss in the first quarter, but the play was made when Paul Soliai pushed the offensive lineman backward to force Lynch to run laterally. It’s just one example of the work that Soliai does on a weekly basis and another example of why he’s one player who shouldn’t be judged by statistics.

• Soliai was a force in the first quarter when the Dolphins held Seattle without a first down.

• Fasano was downgraded from probable to questionable on Saturday, but was able to play and then proceeded to make a nice catch on a pass thrown behind him to convert the Dolphins’ first third-down situation of the game.

• That was awfully conservative decision-making in the first half by Seattle coach Pete Carroll, who declined to try to a 53-yard field goal from the Miami 35-yard line and later punted on fourth-and-1 from the Miami 38.

• Then again, this game early on had the look of a 7-6 final. But then both offenses got going toward the end of the first half.

• Daniel Thomas got his first opportunity to carry the ball on the Dolphins’ fourth possession of the game and wasted little making an impact. He gained 20 yards on his first carry, and followed that up after a holding penalty with runs of 9 and 8 yards. Thomas is looking more and more decisive in his running with each passing week.
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