UPDATE: The Fins signed Center Al Johnson prior to the game. For info on AJ go to the bottom of this article.
When the Miami Dolphins lost to the Houston Texans on the final drive of the game it appeared that the team just couldn’t put together wins against teams that on paper they should beat. That all changed after close victories against the Seahawks, Raiders, and today the Rams. Make no mistake, there is no smiling after this close win that once again came down to a final drive defensive stop.
While a win is a win, for this team they once again played down to a lesser opponent all the while keeping alive their hopes of a playoff spot. The bigger news however was not the victory in St. Louis but instead the likelihood that the Phins have lost LG Justin Smiley for the rest of the year.
Smiley went down in the first quarter and had to be helped off the field. He did not return. Earlier reports suggested a broken ankle but that has not been confirmed. Smiley was in the process of a block when his ankle was rolled on. The loss of Smiley for any length of time puts the Dolphins in a severe corner with little depth on the line.
The Dolphins moved Andy Alleman to the LG spot for one series before switching him to Center and moving Samson Satele to RG and Ikechuku Ndukwe to LG. The switch did little for the Miami rushing game as they broke some but fell flat on others…runs that is.
The win puts the Phins at 7-5 on the season, back to games above .500 and allows the team to keep a 1 game deficit behind the Patriots, Colts, and Ravens for a wild card spot. Next week the Phins will face off against the Buffalo Bills who lost to the 49′ers today to drop one game behind Miami and for all intent and purposes out of the playoff chase.
Next weeks game will take place in Toronto behind the closed roof of a dome instead of the elements of Orchard Park and a very open Ralph Wilson Stadium. It will be yet another “must win” game for the Dolphins.
Al Johnson was a 2nd round pick by the Dallas Cowboys in 2003 and started 31 of 32 games in two years. He signed as a free agent with the Arizona Cardinals in 2007 and was put on IR earlier this year prior the start of the season. He filed a grievance with the league and was released on October 21st by the team. He started 14 games with the Cardinals.