You hear coaches say it all the time when close games are decided by a field goal, that the offense shouldn’t have put the kicker in that position to win the game to begin with. God knows the Miami Dolphins need to be thankful for kicker Dan Carpenter this season who crutched the ailing offense to four wins against the Green Bay Packers, Cincinnati Bengals, Tennessee Titans and the Oakland Raiders where he hit 15 of 17 field goals. You take away those points and the Dolphins lose to both the Packers and the Bengals, but also to the Buffalo Bills on opening day and don’t even keep it close in the 1-point loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at home. But as is every story in the NFL, the bad always trumps the good.
Completing 26 of 31 field goals after the first 12 games of the season, Carpenter suddenly went cold like a rotisserie flank buried deep in the Antarctic, hitting only 2 of 7 in the last 3 games when the Dolphins needed it most. 3 points decided both “must win” games against the Bills and the Cleveland Browns to keep tepid playoff hopes alive. Makes you cringe to think that someone so automatic couldn’t hit just one of the four he missed on Sunday against Buffalo.
Carpenter may still be on his way to another Pro-Bowl this year if he manages to hit rather then miss these last two games against the Detroit Lions and the New England Patriots. We must also take into consideration his remarkable 60-yard field goal against the Browns at the end of the first half in week 13 but most importantly, he was the only bright spot for a special teams unit that had hit the fan way before it had leapt.
Only Dolphin players and coaches will be taking these next two games seriously, as their jobs are on the line, particularly Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams and Chad Henne. If Carpenter doesn’t show up, he might now appear to be on the chopping block rather than the Hawaiian beachfront.
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