Hartline Leads List Of Unselfish Players

Posted Nov 25, 2011

Losses like the one the Miami Dolphins suffered on Thanksgiving Day at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys (20-19) are difficult to swallow. But in retrospect they do reveal occasional positives

Head Coach Tony Sparano, while being proud of how his team played on a national stage against a playoff-caliber team, expressed afterwards that no style points are given out in a loss. But at the same time he could not ignore the selfless play of some of his guys, especially on offense, and wide receiver Brian Hartline epitomized that aspect after going a few games without playing an integral role.

Hartline caught four passes for 77 yards, including a 41-yarder from Matt Moore in the third quarter that set up Moore’s 35-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall. He also lined up on special teams both on kickoffs and punts and did some solid downfield blocking on offense.

“A lot of the players on my team, most of the players on my team are very unselfish and that’s why the locker room is the way it is. They don’t really care who gets the credit,” Sparano said. “But I’m not so sure that Brian Hartline isn’t one of the most unselfish in that he doesn’t really care what his job description is. You want me to run down the field on kickoff team, I’ll run down the field on kickoff team. You want me to play on punt team I’ll be a gunner on punt team if that’s what it takes. You want me to block on the toss crack, I’ll block on the toss crack. I’ll block the big defensive end if you want.

“So I think the guy’s unselfish and when his number’s called more often than not Brian ends up coming up pretty big. In that game yesterday, on a big stage like that, I thought he made some really big plays. And that’s probably the most disappointing thing in the ballgame for me, is just the number of big plays made in that game yesterday, both offensively and defensively, and we just didn’t come away with a win.”

In addition to the long ball he caught, Hartline made two tough catches for first downs, the first one a 13-yard leaping grab near the sideline. His second impressive reception came on the opening drive of the second half on a 10-yard pass from Moore to the Dallas 25 as he dragged his feet to perfection along the sideline.

Even when he wasn’t catching passes Hartline influenced the play with his route running. The play before his nifty sideline catch he cleared out the defensive zone on a fly pattern for running back Reggie Bush, who caught a swing pass in the flat and sprinted 34 yards to the Dallas 35.

Over on the offensive line, Nate Garner was Hartline’s counterpart when it came to being unselfish and producing when called upon. In the first half he took one snap at center when rookie Mike Pouncey came off for a play and handled the exchange with Moore flawlessly. Then in the fourth quarter with the offense driving deep into Dallas territory, Garner jumped in at right guard for the injured Vernon Carey and held his own on the next five plays.

“Nate as you guys know, he comes in and he’s really the jack of all trades,” Sparano said. “He did a nice job filling in there when Vernon went out and that was in the real red area. Nate did a good job of filling in and I thought did some good things.”

What really impressed Sparano in the game was the play of his rookies and young players overall, especially considering the opponent. He pointed to their play as another example of being unselfish.

“An encouraging thing about yesterday’s game, and again we talk about that stage, but the environment, the type of game and to see the way some of our young players handled that I thought was really good,” Sparano said. “It was really encouraging and we may talk about Brian Hartline like he’s a 10-year veteran but he’s a young player. So is Davone Bess, and (rookie receiver and kick returner Clyde) Gates, seeing him catch the ball and go like that before the end of the half, that was a really big play for us. He did a really good job of hitting it and that’s where we’ve been working hard with him.”

Sparano gave his players the three-day weekend off to recover from playing three games in 11 days. They’ll be back at it next Monday preparing for the first of back-to-back home games at Sun Life Stadium against the Oakland Raiders one week from Sunday on December 4th.
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