After a dismal 16-0 loss to the Bears on Thursday night in Week 11, it was hard to predict how the Dolphins would respond in Week 12 against a Raiders team that had given up 35 points the week before, but which also had a stellar pass rush. It wouldn't be ridiculous to predict another game full of offensive stalls the way this season has gone.
All Miami did, though, was answer the doubters with one of their best all-around games of the season, keeping their miniscule playoff hopes alive.
The Dolphins scored 33 points, the most they've tallied this season, and stayed resilient after giving up a kickoff return for a touchdown to start the game. The defense continued to be Miami's calling card, but few expected the offensive explosion they put on display in Oakland.
And their offensive star on Sunday has arguably been the team's offensive MVP in 2010. In just his third start this season with Brandon Marshall out nursing a hamstring injury, WR Davone Bess returned home to Oakland and had a career game.
The PFW Spin
In QB Chad Henne's return to the starting role, he relied upon his security blanket, Bess. Because of Marshall's two monster games earlier in the season (10-166-1 against the Jets and 10-127-0 against the Packers), Bess is second on the team in receiving, but he has had a much bigger impact on the 'Fins than Marshall this season.
Bess had six catches for 111 yards on Sunday, the second-most receiving yards in a game in his career. But what really illustrates Bess' impact on Sunday and this entire season is when he made those grabs — four of his seven catches came on third down.
This has been a theme for Bess, who was second in the NFL in 2009 with 35 receptions on third down. This season, Bess continues to be a third-down machine, hauling in 24 catches, just one behind the league leader Roddy White. Bess also added a 47-yard punt return to his career day — and he did it all against the team for which he cheered growing up in the Oakland area.
In addition to success through the air, the Dolphins finally got moving on the ground. Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams both had season-high rushing outputs, as the team rushed for 186 yards. And that helped them dominate the time of possession, with a 41:38 to 18:22 edge. The Dolphins have a 5-0 record when rushing for more than 100 yards this season.
With five games left and trailing the Jets and Patriots by three games, the Dolphins have their work cut out for them. But with games against the Browns, Bills and Lions in addition to rematches with the Pats and Jets, Miami could pull off the miracle and make the postseason if the offense can be as efficient as it was on Sunday.