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Frank Gore returns home, leads Colts over Dolphins

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The Miami Dolphins and the Indianapolis Colts have both seen better days. Both teams brought losing records into Sunday’s game at Sun Life Stadium, but it was the Colts who left with an 18-12 victory.

Plenty of story lines emerged from this game. Former Miami Hurricane star Frank Gore came home to score two touchdowns for the Colts. Both quarterbacks, Matt Hasselbeck for the Colts and Ryan Tannehill for the Dolphins were injured during the game.

There was one other potential story at the end of the game that never materialized involving the 1972 undefeated Dolphins.

The Dolphins got off to yet another slow start. After a Colts punt inside the Dolphins’ 5-yard line, quarterback Tannehill was sacked by T.Y. McGill in the end zone for a safety.

After the free kick, Indianapolis took the ball at their own 25. Brent Grimes picked off Hasselbeck on the first play, but it was negated by a penalty. Six plays later, Gore popped free for a 37-yard TD run to make it 8-0. Adam Vinatieri missed the extra point.

Tannehill took the Dolphins to the Colts’ 6, but was intercepted in the end zone by Vontae Davis. On the next possession, Miami completed a 69-yard drive with a Lamar Miller one-yard run with 8:07 left in the half. The two-point conversion attempt failed.

Indianapolis followed with an 80-yard drive, capped by Gore’s 11-yard run less than four minutes later to make it 15-6 at the half. That was the good news for the Colts. The bad news was Hasselbeck’s  shoulder injury that knocked him out of the game.

Only three points were scored in the third quarter. Andrew Franks kicked a 43-yard field goal to bring Miami within 6 at the 3:50 mark.

Vinatieri restored the 9-point margin with a 38-yard field goal with 8:33 left after a drive led by reserve quarterback Charlie Whitehurst. Miami had a chance to get within a field goal, but a 78-yard drive stalled, forcing the Dolphins to settle for a 20-yard field goal by Franks to make it 18-12 with 5:22 left.

Tannehill, banged up himself, led Miami on a long drive that reached the Indianapolis 5-yard line with less than 30 seconds remaining. As the drive unfolded, word began to reach the stadium that the Carolina Panthers had lost in Atlanta, leaving those 1972 Dolphins as the only team to achieve a perfect season.

The scene was set for a comeback Dolphin victory while celebrating the Carolina loss. However, on fourth down the Colts sacked Tannehill when Dolphin backup center Jamil Douglas prematurely snapped the ball, allowing the Colts to easily get into the backfield.

Interim coach Dan Campbell would not allow Douglas to take the sole blame.

“He feels like it’s on his shoulders, and it’s not,” said Campbell. “There were enough mistakes to go around offensively and defensively. It’s never one man’s fault.”

A bright spot for the Dolphins was the appearance of some offense. Tannehill was 26 of 38 for 329 yards. Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker had 111 and 93 receiving yards respectively. Three backs combined for 82 rushing yards.

Gore rushed for 85 yards and two touchdowns in his homecoming. Otherwise, the Dolphin defense kept the Colts’ offense relatively contained.

Indianapolis moved to 7-8 and kept their distant playoff hopes alive while Miami fell to 5-10 and look toward next year’s draft after next week’s final game against the Washington Redskins at Sun Life Stadium.

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Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at Bob@ramos-sparks.com.

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