A tale of third down defense

How about the Dolphins? Two inexcusable penalties from the offensive line in a row, and they come back and run for a key first down on third-and-16? Okay.

Then on third-and-nine, with it looking like field goal city, they completed a touchdown pass. Carolina’s third-down defense let the team down on that drive, and they aren’t forcing Chad Henne to move his feet enough. Not enough pressure.

The Dolphins defense, on the other hand, is getting off on passing downs. They are getting to Jake Delhomme. Joey Porter, after being deactivated a week ago as a coach’s decision, is eating up tackle Travelle Wharton (filling in for All-Pro tackle Jordan Gross, who is out for the season) in the passing game. Not exactly sure what his sack dance was — keeping the uniform clean, eating a bowl of something (cereal?) and then kicking someone (possibly in the backside?) — but perhaps it has something to do with how he’s handling his business on third down right now.

Anyway, Delhomme is getting smothered on third down, while the Dolphins, post-touchdown, are benefiting from great field position and finishing drives. They go Wildcat with Ricky Williams for the second time on second-and-goal from the 1, and Williams is able to turn the corner on the keeper and get to the pylon (Williams has scored a rushing and receiving TD in the same game for the first time in his career).

Huge, huge touchdown. Three points there would have been a win for the Panthers. And now, up 11, it puts more pressure on the Panthers to have to abandon the run — their best weapon — sooner. The scoreboard and clock are not on their side on a night when Delhomme isn’t throwing interceptions, but he’s been all over the place with the football, completing just seven of 16 passes in the first half for just 64 yards. Ouch.

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