Henne, Dolphins beat Packers to rule Rust BeltBy COLIN FLY, AP Sports Writer Monday, Oct 18, 2010
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP)—The Miami Dolphins have found a key to being effective: pound the ball, keep every game close and play as far away from Sun Life Stadium as possible.
There’s no South Beach-like distractions in Green Bay, and the blue collar style the Dolphins play fits this colder climate than Florida’s tropical temperatures.
“There’s a lot more distractions when you go home,” left tackle Jake Long(notes) said after Miami’s 23-20 overtime victory against the Packers on Sunday. “We’ve got to keep focused, still have that mentality of us against the world, take that home with us.”
With wins in Minnesota and Buffalo, Miami rules the Rust Belt.
The Dolphins are 3-0 on the road this season, and 0-2 at home. Miami needed to grind out another game using three field goals—including the 44-yard game winner—by Dan Carpenter(notes) and a perfect TD screen by developing quarterback Chad Henne(notes) to topple what had been considered one of the NFL’s elite teams before injuries set in.
Green Bay (3-3) is a mess now after consecutive overtime losses.
The Packers can take solace in being just a game back in the NFC North chase despite injuries to eight starters, including five on defense. There’s also the Lambeau Field showdown looming with Brett Favre(notes) and the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday night.
“It’s disappointing, but I think you’ve got to be realistic,” said Rodgers, who finished 18 of 33 for 313 yards with a touchdown and interception. “We’re a game back. We still have four division games.”
Henne’s nifty 22-yard TD pass to Anthony Fasano(notes) gave Miami a 20-13 lead with 5:20 left, and Fasano ran untouched to the end zone with Long bowling over the last would-be tackler as Henne laid flat on his back.
“That’s a throw a year ago that he doesn’t make,” coach Tony Sparano said. “He feels the pressure, he understands the front, he sees the rusher from the back side, he doesn’t panic and he kind of waits, gets rid of the football and takes the hit for us. It was a big play. I was pleased with what Chad did today. I’m really proud of him.”
After the teams’ exchanged punts with the Dolphins getting the better end of that deal and taking over at their own 48, Miami went to Ricky Williams(notes) and Ronnie Brown(notes), who pounded the ball down to the Packers 26 before Carpenter hit the game winner on third down.
“You’ve got to be prepared mentally for that situation every game, because games in the NFL are so close all the time,” the kicker said. “I wouldn’t say it’s ‘hero or goat,’ but it’s something you’ve got to be prepared for every game.”
Especially playing for the Dolphins.
“I’d love to be able to walk out here and think it’s one of those 38-3 deals, but from our standpoint our group is built this way, I think they’re built for these kind of football games,” Sparano said. “To me, it’s just what the doctor ordered right now, you come into this environment, in this situation and win a close game against a good football team.”
With so many injuries, Green Bay failed to get much pressure on Henne. Linebacker Clay Matthews(notes), who has 8 1/2 sacks, was out with a left hamstring injury and Nick Barnett(notes) (wrist) went on the injured reserve on Friday.
Henne, with all the time he needed, finished 23 of 39 for 231 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Top receiver Brandon Marshall(notes) made 10 catches for 127 yards and just missed a 25-yard TD grab late in the first half. He said the win was all the more impressive because he believed the Dolphins left 21 points on the field.
Now, Miami will again get a chance to prove its meddle during what’s the most brutal part of its schedule with a matchup at home with Pittsburgh, then trips to Cincinnati and Baltimore followed by home games against Tennessee and the NFC North-leading Chicago.
“It’s hard to win games in the NFL and it’s much harder to win on the road,” Marshall said. “It feels good, but we’ve got to go back home and win in front of our fans.”