|Other Week 9 Game Recaps|
|ARI at STL||ATL at OAK||BAL at CLE||DAL at NYG||DET at CHI||GB at TEN||HOU at MIN||JAX at CIN|
|MIA at DEN||NE at IND||NYJ at BUF||PHI at SEA||PIT at WAS||TB at KC|
Week 9 Game Recap: Miami Dolphins 26, Denver Broncos 17
What you need to know
QB Chad Pennington looked very poised and made a number of very nice touch passes. They nickel and dimed Denver to death, and it worked in pulling out the nine point victory.
It was a breakout game for WR Greg Camarillo, who caught a career high eleven passes for 111 yards. He abused the Denver secondary all game long.
The RB combo of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams didn't put up huge statistics, but they efficiently got the job done. Each player served a key purpose on the drive that led to the game winning touchdown.
QB Jay Cutler showed that he can have a terrible game in real life but still put up top fantasy stats, as he tossed a pair of touchdowns and went over 300 yards on a day when he threw three bad interceptions.
WR Brandon Marshall grew increasingly frustrated with his lack of involvement throughout the game, as Miami's defensive backs did an admirable job of keeping him contained. After the game, he had some very critical comments of both the offensive and defensive units for the Broncos, most importantly regarding Jay Cutler's inability to get him the ball in one on one coverage.
The much ballyhooed debut of rookie running back Ryan Torain failed to live up to its billing. The rookie handled just three carries for a total of one yard as Denver's rushing attack was completely stifled.
What you ought to know
|QB Chad Pennington, Pass: 23 - 40 - 281 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 2 - -1 - 0|
Pennington didn't put up eye-popping statistics, but he did an admirable job of standing tall in the pocket and facing pressure all game long. While he was only sacked twice, Denver still got in his face on more than a few occasions. But Pennington never wavered, calmly finding Greg Camarillo on roughly half of his completions. The timing and connection between the two was obvious, and the Pennington/Camarillo connection used the short passing game to perfection all day long. Pennington didn't throw any touchdowns, but he brought Miami to several scoring drives and never really made a huge mistake with the ball. He was bailed out of two potential interceptions when his receivers got their hands on the ball at the last moment, but it's no sure thing that the balls would've even been picked off anyway. Even his turnover was more of a great play by Denver than it was a bad decision or bad pass by Pennington. And he saved his best for last, completing not one but two long completions late in the fourth quarter on a touchdown drive to seal the victory. Facing a third and 19, he found Ronnie Brown for a screen pass that picked up 18 and put the team in position to convert the ensuing fourth down play. Later, Miami faced a third and 13 and again Pennington faced a relentless pass rush. And again, he found his man, this time Ricky Williams for a 23 yard gain. While neither play went for a score, both were critical in eventually setting up the touchdown that put the Dolphins up by nine and put the game out of reach.
|RB Ronnie Brown, Rush: 20 - 59 - 1, Rec: 3 - 30 - 0 (3 targets)|
Most of Brown's fantasy production came on two isolated plays. He had 89 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown in the game, but thirty of those yards came on one run and the touchdown was a two yard plunge off the right tackle on a play when he wasn't even really touched. Oddly enough, on the thirty yard run he actually stumbled at the beginning of the play. Denver's defense may have thought he was down, because he caught a lot of them off-guard when he showed up scampering into the secondary. All this is not to say he was ineffective; he ran with authority, showed nice elusiveness, and broke many an arm tackle on the afternoon. It's just that he wasn't really tested much because the Dolphins were able to use their short passing game as a sort of running game. The Wildcat formation may have seen the end of its run, however, as Brown couldn't get much going out of that particular package. The first few versions cost Miami a handful of yards and a waste of a few downs. But then Brown took an eight yard loss on a rollout where he was sacked while intending to throw the football, and the formation wasn't used again. Brown caught a break when he was charged with a fumble late in the first half. He lost the ball at the five yard line, but replays clearly showed that he was down before the ball came loose. Following an official's review, he was in fact ruled down and the ball was returned to the Dolphins.
|RB Ricky Williams, Rush: 6 - 16 - 0, Rec: 1 - 23 - 0 (2 targets)|
Williams had very little involvement during the game, but came up with one of the biggest plays of the entire afternoon late in the fourth quarter. Facing a third down and 13, Pennington found Williams in the flat for a 23 yard pickup. Two plays later, Ronnie Brown waltzed into the end zone for the touchdown that put the game fully out of reach.
|WR Greg Camarillo, Rec: 11 - 111 - 0 (16 targets)|
Camarillo had a coming out party, with a career high 11 receptions for 111 yards. He was also targeted an astounding 16 times, far overshadowing any other player on the Miami roster. He was able to get open underneath almost at will. He displayed great hands on a fourth quarter reception, right around the time he began to take over the game. It got almost comical how easily he was able to get separation from the Denver defensive backs. Camarillo isn't really known for having blazing speed, yet the Denver secondary opted to give him a lot of cushion underneath and consistently pick up 10, 12 yards at a clip. Miami was all too happy to continue to do just that, and it proved to be Denver's downfall in the end as they allowed a few first downs too many.
|WR Ted Ginn, Rec: 3 - 38 - 0 (7 targets)|
After last week's breakout performance, a lot of people expected Ginn to come into this game against a depleted Denver secondary and really make his mark. Instead, it was teammate Greg Camarillo who enjoyed a huge statistical day. Ginn wasn't entirely silent with three grabs for 38 yards, but it was hardly evidence of a player ready to leap to the next level. He also dropped a very catchable pass along the sideline that would've added another 10-15 yards to his stat line. On his first reception of the game, he caught a quick slant towards the middle of the field. He had a couple of players in front of him and then a lot of daylight, but he was barely tripped up on the play. With his speed, it's entirely possible that he could've gone the distance had he beaten that defender.
|WR Davone Bess, Rec: 2 - 28 - 0 (3 targets)|
Bess made one of the most terrific catches of the afternoon in the first half. On a low pass, Bess slid across the field on his back while reaching his hands up over his body. He secured possession, brought the ball into his chest, and made a very tough catch. He saw very limited action the rest of the way, but he showed enough on that play to deserve a mention.
|TE Anthony Fasano, Rec: 2 - 37 - 0 (6 targets)|
Fasano dropped the first pass intended for him in the game, but quickly made up for that by catching a thirteen yard reception moments later. He went on to add a 24 yard grab later in the first half, but didn't catch another ball after that. In the second half, nearly all of the Miami pass attempts went to either Greg Camarillo or Ted Ginn. His biggest contribution in the second half was getting his hands on the ball and breaking up a pass that would've been intercepted by S Calvin Lowry.
|PK Dan Carpenter 4 - 4 FG, 2 - 2 XP, 14 points|
Carpenter blasted his first two attempts from 45 and 47 yards out. He later added easier kicks from 23 and 41 yards away.
|MIA Rush Defense|
The Denver Broncos, long held as the gold standard for what a proficient NFL rushing attack should look like, ran the ball 12 times for 14 yards. The only time Denver ran for fewer yards in a game was October 22, 1972 against the Raiders, when they gained just thirteen on the ground. Sometimes, statistics don't tell the whole story. This time, they do. There's nothing much to add, except to say that Miami was consistently meeting Denver rushers in the backfield all game long and the Broncos are fortunate that they managed the fourteen yards they DID get.
|MIA Pass Defense|
Miami opened about as well as a team can hope to when they intercepted Jay Cutler's very first pass of the game. Five pass plays later, CB Will Allen broke off his assignment from Brandon Stokley and jumped the route to intercept a ball intended for Brandon Marshall. Allen returned it 32 yards the other way for a touchdown and a 13-0 Miami lead. (Yeremiah Bell should've added a second defensive touchdown midway through the third quarter, but he dropped what would have been an easy interception and touchdown return.) The Allen interception wasn't the last time Marshall would be frustrated by a pass intended for him. Miami caught a huge break late in the third quarter when Marshall seemingly hauled in a 77 yard touchdown pass. The receiver was whistled for a very questionable offensive pass interference penalty, which killed all of Denver's momentum. Cutler's first pass of the fourth quarter was intercepted, and Miami was in control. LB Joey Porter may have helped contribute to the interception by egging on both Cutler and Marshall following the interference penalty, and Porter's contributions weren't limited to mind games. He picked up another sack, adding to his career high and league-leading total of 11.5.
About the only negative for Miami was late in the fourth quarter when their coverage in the deep secondary grew a bit lax. They nearly allowed two bomb touchdowns to Brandon Stokley and Brandon Marshall. Fortunately for Miami, the pass to Stokley was overthrown and the pass to Marshall slipped through his fingertips in the end zone.
|QB Jay Cutler, Pass: 24 - 46 - 307 - 2 TD / 3 INT, Rush: 1 - 2 - 0|
Cutler's day began as inauspiciously as possible when his very first pass attempt was intercepted by Jason Allen. His sixth pass of the game was then also intercepted, this time by Will Allen. And this time, it was run back for a touchdown. At that point, Cutler was 1-6 for five yards and two interceptions, and looked headed for a career-worst day. But he regrouped after the interceptions and really settled down to turn in a solid fantasy performance, if not for real life. His finger didn't seem to be bothering him any. He made a very strong throw off his back foot for a completion to TE Daniel Graham in the third quarter, and his fastball didn't seem to be lacking any zip on an earlier touchdown pass to Eddie Royal. If anything, Cutler was done in more by emotions than anything else. Late in the third quarter, he appeared to have thrown a 77 yard touchdown pass to WR Brandon Marshall down the sideline. Marshall was whistled for offensive pass interference on the play, and the call was negated. Opposing LB Joey Porter, one of the all-time trash talkers of the NFL, got in Cutler's ear following the play and Cutler was later seen angrily flinging his towel onto the ground. Perhaps as a result of his frustration, Cutler tried forcing his first pass of the fourth quarter into heavy coverage, and the ball was picked off. Cutler just missed a touchdown on two separate occasions on Denver's final possession. The first one was a deep ball intended for Brandon Stokley. Stokley had broken free of his defender, but the ball was badly overthrown. Later, Brandon Marshall had a deep ball go right through his hands for what could've been a 41 yard touchdown grab.
|RB Michael Pittman, Rush: 7 - 4 - 0, Rec: 2 - 21 - 0 (3 targets)|
With rookie Ryan Torain making his debut, most people were unsure how much that would affect Pittman's workload. While Torain saw just three touches, Pittman still couldn't get on the field long enough to make an impact. Pittman, who entered the game nursing an injury, suffered a re-injury to his neck and had been used very sparingly to that point anyway. Furthermore, the first time Denver got to the five yard line, it was Torain and not Pittman who got the call and took the handoff.
|RB Peyton Hillis, Rec: 7 - 116 - 1 (5 targets)|
Almost unbelievably, Hillis was clearly the offensive star of the game for the Broncos. He hauled in a team high seven passes for 116 yards and a score, including a 47 yard catch and run and a highlight reel hurdle. Hillis was very active in the passing game right from the outset, snagging three first half receptions despite entering the game with just one career reception. In the second half, it was more of the same. He caught a short pass in the flat and was met by DB Yeremiah Bell. Yet instead of trying to plow over Bell (as most fullbacks would do), Hillis decided to leap over Bell. It worked beautifully, as he somehow managed to get his 6'2" 250 pound frame over the defender. He later added a great grab along the sideline off a touch pass from Cutler. It would be more than a bit surprising to see Hillis keep up anything close to this type of success, but with the Denver running back situation such as it is year in and year out, every name could potentially be an important one. Hillis certainly made sure people remembered his name with a big time performance in this game.
|RB Ryan Torain, Rush: 3 - 1 - 0|
Torain's much anticipated first NFL carry came with about five minutes left in the first quarter. Following an Eddie Royal kick return to the five yard line, Torain lined up in the backfield and took the first down handoff up the middle. He picked up three yards on the play, but was stopped short of the end zone. On his only other two carries on the afternoon, he totaled minus two yards. With such a limited sample size, it's difficult to get a gauge on how he looked. Essentially, he looked like a little used rookie.
|WR Eddie Royal, Rec: 7 - 69 - 1 (11 targets)|
With Brandon Marshall blanketed all game long, Royal had a little more room than usual to work with. A little bit more. He was still garnering a lot of attention of his own, but he still managed to shake free long enough to pick up a team high seven receptions. Late in the first quarter, he ran a kickoff return back 95 yards to the Miami five yard line but couldn't push it across for the touchdown. Apparently, he was waiting for others to share in his success. He made up for coming up short on the return by catching a two yard touchdown pass from Jay Cutler two plays later. Royal was poked in the eye on a pass play early in the second half, but he turned out to be fine.
|WR Brandon Stokley, Rec: 2 - 18 - 0 (7 targets)|
To give an idea of the kind of afternoon Brandon Stokley had, all you really need to know is that two of the first four passes intended for him were intercepted. And on the other pick, Will Allen (who had been covering Stokley) broke off his coverage so he could intercept the pass. In other words, when Stokley was around the ball, generally bad things happened. Late in the fourth quarter, he managed to get himself open down the seam but the ball was overthrown and fell incomplete.
|WR Brandon Marshall, Rec: 2 - 27 - 0 (12 targets)|
Marshall didn't register his first reception of the game until there was a minute remaining in the third quarter. Miami's secondary did a terrific job in coverage on Marshall and didn't allow him to get near the ball let alone gain yards after the catch. He subsequently grew increasingly frustrated as the game went on, sulking his way back to the huddle or the sideline on several occasions. And just when it appeared as if Marshall had broken free for a 77 yard touchdown reception, the play was whistled back for an offensive pass interference call on him. By the letter of the law, he interfered on the play. Realistically speaking, however, receivers have gotten away with far less than Marshall without being called. Some might say it served Marshall right for hot-dogging it the last ten yards on his way into the end zone. We, however, aren't here to judge. In any case, the long touchdown was negated and it really deflated the entire team and home crowd. Marshall did manage to draw a long pass interference penalty in the end zone later in the fourth quarter that set up the Hillis touchdown catch, but that does very little to help Marshall's stat line. On Denver's last-gasp desperation possession, Marshall had a potential 41 yard touchdown go right through his hands in the end zone. At first, it appeared to be good defense on the play. Upon further review, it was apparently that Marshall simply missed the ball.
|TE Daniel Graham, Rec: 1 - 23 - 0 (2 targets)|
Graham, whose role is much more that of blocker than pass catcher, made a nice adjustment to catch a 23 yard pass down the seam but that was his only action.
|TE Nate Jackson, Rec: 1 - 2 - 0 (1 targets)|
Jackson's only reception of the game was a two yard pickup. While he is technically the pass-catching tight end with Tony Scheffler sidelined, in reality what that means is that the wide receivers and running backs see a bit more work. Jackson is not an integral part of the passing game.
|PK Matt Prater 1 - 2 FG, 2 - 2 XP, 5 points|
Prater drilled a 50 yard field goal that would've been good from 65+ yards away. But on his next attempt, he hooked a 49 yarder wide to the left. If nothing else, the 50 yarder gave even further evidence that he's got one of the league's best legs. He's now booted five field goals of fifty yards or more this season, tying a team record.
|DEN Rush Defense|
For the most part, Denver held Miami's rushing attack in check. They stifled the Wildcat formation repeatedly, and allowed just 75 yards on 29 carries (2.6 YPC). The 30 yard scamper up the gut by Ronnie Brown early in the game was a bit excusable, because he slipped in the backfield and several Denver defenders may have mistakenly believed he was already down. But it wasn't necessarily the amount of yardage that was crucial, but the timing of when they allowed it. Late in the game, Miami was facing a fourth down and one at the Denver 35. A defensive stop would've given Denver the ball at their own 35 with six minutes remaining and trailing by only two points. However, little-used Lousaka Polite pushed ahead for the one yard pickup and a first down. Later in the drive, Ronnie Brown took a handoff to the right side of the formation and waltzed into the end zone untouched for the score. That put Miami up 26-17 and put the game essentially out of reach.
|DEN Pass Defense|
At times, Denver got decent pressure on the quarterback. They sacked Pennington twice and Ronnie Brown once more. With CB Champ Bailey out, replacement Karl Paymah made a fantastic diving grab of an interception down the right sideline. But far too often, Denver's defenders came up just shy of actually making the big play. For example, twice on Miami's late touchdown drive they were in position to be stopped. But both times, Denver failed to deliver the knockout punch. The Broncos completely sold out and came with an all out blitz on Chad Pennington on a third and 19 drop-back, but he floated a screen pass to Ronnie Brown that went for 18 yards. They punched a fourth down run up the gut for a conversion on the next play. Later on that same possession, the Dolphins faced a third and 13 situation. Again, Pennington faced intense pressure and again he managed to find one of his running backs -- this time it was Ricky Williams for a 23 yard pickup and a first down to the two yard line. Ronnie Brown punched it in for a score on the next play.
To make matters worse, LB D.J. Henderson suffered a torn MCL in his left knee and S Marlon McCree sprained his ankle on the aforementioned 18 yard screen pass to Brown. No immediate update was given on their condition, but we will keep you updated throughout the week. They've got a quick turnaround as they play Thursday night against the Browns.