Sorry for the delay on this week's Game Balls. I wasn't able to watch the game on Sunday (listened to it on Sirius), so I didn't want to put these out there until I actually had seen the game. I watched it last night, so here they are:
1-yard Game Ball. Channing Crowder and Cameron Wake. These two will each get one yard for the final New England play of the game. With the Patriots looking to make a last minute drive down the field and attempt to win the game, Cameron Wake caught Tom Brady's legs (amazingly, Brady did not call his own foul on the play). Just before his knee hit the ground, Brady attempted to throw the ball. Channing Crowder, sitting in a zone in the middle of the field had to react as the ball hit him almost dead in the chest. Surprised, he managed to hold on to the ball and fall to the ground, securing the interception and the Dolphins' victory.
2-yard Game Ball. Dan Carpenter. Once again, Dan Carpenter earned his nickname. DC$ nailed three field goals (extending his streak to 17 straight made) during the game. The third field goal was really the money-maker, as with 1:03 left in the game, Carpenter gave the Dolphins their first lead of the game - a lead that held up over the next 63 seconds and let Miami split the season series with New England.
3-yard Game Ball. Lousaka Polite. Lousaka Polite really is a Monster. The guy cannot be stopped. He only had one rush in this game, for two yards, but could they have been any bigger? With the Dolphins trailing 21-13 and facing a fourth and one, the ball was once again given to Polite - and he delivered. Polite is now 10 for 10 on first down conversion when given the ball on 3rd of 4th and 1 - with the team scoring touchdowns on six of the drives in which he has converted.
4-yard Game Ball. Davone Bess. Apparently Davone Bess came to play this week. In a return to the form that we all saw in moments last season, Bess suddenly became the Dolphins' Wes Welker. Bess may not have had the deep ball that Welker had during the game - and maybe not the yards after catch that makes Welker the threat that he is - but he did have as many receptions. If you take out the 58-yard reception Welker had, Bess' yards per catch was only 0.5 yards less than Welkers' . Bess finished the game with 10-receptions for 117 yards and one touchdown. The receptions and yardage are personal bests for Bess, and the TD is his first of the year (second of his career). What a great game for Bess.
5-yard Game Ball. Chad Henne. I would have given this yardage to Bess for his outstanding day, but one simple fact tipped the 5-yard Game Ball to Chad Henne. Henne's performance, 29 of 52 for 335 yards, 2 touchdowns, and one interception, was incredible. In only his ninth start in the NFL, Henne was asked to throw the ball 52 times, and he was asked to do it for a team that prides itself on being a power running team. Even more indicative of this coaching staff's trust in Henne is the fact that this was a planned concentration on the passing game. This was not abandonment due to something the Patriots were doing. This was game planning. This was trusting a second year QB and a shaky group of WRs to go out and win the game. Henne responded. And, in doing so, set a Miami Dolphins first year starter record for passing yardage in a game. That record, when you have a guy named Dan Marino who played as a rookie for this team, gives Henne the full five yards this week.
Sack. Phil Simms. I know there were things in this game that could have made players worthy of receiving this sack (especially a secondary that gave up 352 yards to Brady - who became the first QB to ever throw for 300 yards against the Dolphins twice in one year), but I am going to give it to Phil Simms for one specific moment. Tom Brady overthrew Sam Aiken (I think it was Aiken). It was a throw just out of reach, and was something every quarterback does. But, this is the Golden Boy. There must be a reason for it, every time. What was the reason that Brady actually threw an incomplete pass? The weather. Was it pouring rain and windy? No. It was 78 degrees and there was barely a breeze. Apparently, the weather was too good for Tom Brady. According to Simms, the fact that the air was warm, while Brady is used to playing in the cold weather of Boston, led to that overthrown pass. The ball travels further in warm air, and Brady missed on that pass for that reason. You know, it makes sense. That explains why cold weather QBs cannot completed passes in domes or during the Super Bowl (usually held in warm weather sites). What kind of explanation is that? Is it not conceivable that Brady just overthrew Aiken? Simms, for that ridiculous explanation, I award you -3 yards.
Week 12 Fan Game Ball. Anthony Fasano. +1 Yard.