As Soothsayer Extraordinaire MuuMuuMan predicted, Daunte Culpepper is back--unfortunate for those involved that it was last year's Daunte Culpepper. (Incidentally, according to contributor Barnyard (nee chato) it is now acceptable to rename Culpepper with any combination of a first syllable that shares assonance with the "Cul" and then any other two syllable combination that has double letters ending with "er". For example, Duckputter. )
I think far too much will be made of the Heath Miller TD that wasn't a TD. The odds of the Steelers fucking up on the 2 yard line twice in one game, even with Batch playing quarterback, seem extremely long odds. The only people who should be bitching are fantasy owners of either Parker or Hayes, one of whom certainly would have gotten a touchdown run for their owners on the subsequent play.
The fucking up, and how reminiscent it was, belongs primarily in Daunte's tiny, tiny hands, with some help from some bad defensive penalties from the Dolphins.
With the Heath Miller TD, the Dolphins were down four with plenty of time to mount a drive. While much talk was made of Polamalu's athleticism (Al Michaels is contractually obligated to mention it at least once per Steelers game) on the interception, at least some of the blame has to be placed on Duckputter for not once looking away from his intended target. There is a reason that "looking off the safety" is part of the Quarterback argot. Pudpuller forgot about that.
The SuperIntelligent Sea Mammals got a break when the Pittsburgh offense sputtered, and tried to settle for a 44 yard field goal (which I actually thought was a silly decision--maybe I'm a conservative coach after all, but I would have been tempted to coffin corner that punt, and let my defense work over Miami a little more).
In any case, Pulfetter and the rest of their offense basically found themselves in a very similar situation after the interception as they were prior to it--down by 4, in not-awful field position. Which made Daunte's subsequent misreading of the defense of Joey Porter all the more painful, I suppose, for people who were rooting for the Dolphins. Porter jumped a pass that looked to be thrown behind the intended receiver anyway, and started running. Porter's 40-odd yard interception for the game-capping TD led to, on the ensuing Dolphin possession, lots of Pittsburgh sacks, and Joey Porter mocking Daunte's stupid, stupid "Roll" celebration.
So, Daunte finished with less than a 50% completion percentage, 0 TDs, a decent chunk of passing yardage (around 260 or so), and 2 Ints on his team's final 3 possessions, with the other being a turnover on downs. One can be forgiven if one who hated the Culpepper led Vikings were to exclaim, "Yes, Daunte is back." (You know, like me). Vikings fans remember, don't they, last year, when Daunte threw 8 interceptions before he threw one TD?
Not all is lost for the Dolphins, though. First of all, it is the first game of the season, for fuck's sake. Pittsburgh defenses make lots of running backs look like shit, so I think Ronnie Brown has probably suffered his worst game of the season, yardage wise (2.0 yards per carry). He still got 2 TD's, and showed plenty of ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. We'll see how he looks playing against a slightly less brilliant run-stopping crew, but I'd be willing to think this game did not reflect as poorly on his skills at it might suggest. This should be the last game that Daunte has a better yards per carry than Ronnie.
Um, Chris Chambers starting catching balls when he was thrown catchable balls. Wes Welker looks to be a dangerous return man and a fine #3 receiver. Marty Booker came back from getting his bell seriously rung and ended up with decent numbers.
I think the Dolphins will be fine, as long as they don't need a fourth quarter drive to win a game. And if their defense isn't forced to face a quarterback as dangerous as Charlie Batch the rest of the year.