When the Miami Dolphins take the field this Christmas weekend against the underachieving Houston Texans, they would do well to seek the ghosts of contests past as the parsimonious stingy Scrooges in Houston have managed to squeak past Miami in each of the last three seasons.
The most recent ghost of contest pasts leads us down the haunting chamber of last year's game where the Texans Matt Schaub slithered into the end zone with three seconds left to give Houston a 29-28 victory. Schaub played as though the Dolphins secondary was manned by oversized Tiny Tims, throwing for 379 yards. Texans star receiver Andre Johnson torched Miami for 178 of those yards.
Miami’s effort was highlighted by a strong performance from Chad Pennington, who was 19 for 25 and two touchdowns, and the surprise performance of Patrick Cobbs, who had 130 plus receiving yards.
The Dolphins also won the turnover battle, 4-1, against Houston. But as the ghosts of contests past will quickly point out to Miami fans, the Dolphins have won the turnover battle in each of the last three contests and still lost. In 2008, plus three, 2007 plus one, and 2006 plus two.
A second ghost of contests past will remind Dolphins that during the 2007 game, won by Houston 22-19, that Texans kicker Kris Brown kicked three field goals over 50 yards, including a monumental 57 yarder to win the game. The game also marked the demise of Dolphins quarterback Trent Green, who suffered a concussion attempting to block the Texans Travis Johnson. It was the beginning of the end for Green, and added one more pie in the face for a Dolphin team destined for 1-15.
Our third ghost of contests past takes us to the 2006 contest, also won by Houston, 17-15. This was the Nick Saban version of the contest, where Daunte Culpepper played the role of Bob Crachit, throwing for 249 yards, but failing to convert a two pointer to tie the game, David Carr threw for 230 yards and the leading rusher was Ron Dayne with 59 yards.
Yes, Ron Dayne.
How time flies.
For all their Scrooginess on defense, the Dolphins still lost, and later, when everything fell apart, Coach Saban apparently eschewed Jacob Marley’s warning about being obsessed with money. He left too.
Our three ghosts, then, have given us sufficient warning: Matt Schaub has thrown for 673 yards in the past two contests against Miami. Oddly enough, he has only one touchdown. Kris Brown has kicked six field goals in the past two contests against Miami. He couldn’t kick a 42 yarder to tie Indianapolis indoors on November 8th of this season, but he has slaughtered the Dolphins. Andre Johnson leads the league in receiving yards with 1433, and will line up against one of two rookie corners, Shaun Smith or Vontae Davis.
The Dolphins can win the turnover battle and still lose the game.
There is no Owen Daniels to contend with, who had 96 yards in the 2007 game, and 70 last year.
The game is likely to be close as a three point gap is the largest in the past three seasons.
Both teams have an outside shot at a wildcard spot.
And finally, as the ghost of last week’s game will say: Can Chad Henne avoid a costly mistake on an ill-advised play that will all but certainly end the Dolphin’s season?