MIAMI - AUGUST 14: Defensive tackle Paul Soliai #96 of the Miami Dolphins stops running back Derrick Ward #28 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a loss in an opening week, pre-season game August 14, 2010 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
The scoreboard may have awarded more points to the Dolphins than the Bucs, but there was just one winner in last night's pre-season exhibition game: the infield mud.
Rain began just before kickoff, meaning the field shortly resembled a mud wrestling pit and players looked as crappy as they played. Pretty sure the mud even swallowed Pat White whole at one point -- aside from running in to take a knee, the second-round surprise was nowhere to be found where Dolphins fans were given backup Tyler Thigpen.
Miami's 10-7 victory on a Lex Hilliard TD earns them a first runner-up nod, but the momentum-less slog wasn't exactly the stuff of bleacher seat dreams. Fortunately, it doesn't matter! So we've got that going for us, along with the reminder that last year's team went undefeated in the the pre-season and then tanked right out of the gate.
In other words, we're talkin' 'bout practice. And here's a few things of note:
1. Brandon Marshall dropped his two passes and it doesn't matter. At all. As Clinton Portis would say, check his paperwork: the man just put together three straight 100-catch seasons in Denver. He's going to be fine, not that it stopped Mike Berardino from typing this:
History will forever remind us that Marshall dropped them and finished his short night with a big goose egg next to his name.
Pfft. History will forever remind us that it's too full for pre-season stats and Mike Berardino needs a chill pill. As will Brandon Marshall.
“In my short time in this NFL, I’ve caught a lot of balls,” Marshall said afterward. “My hands, there’s no question there. Just need to do better in those conditions, no excuses. We need to execute better. I think next time out we’ll do a better job.”
2. Nate Ness is this year's pre-season hero and it doesn't matter either. Last year's practice squad safety knocked down a pass at the goal line and then forced a fumble (his second of the night) that saved the win.
"I got 37 missed texts and 47 missed calls," he said in the locker room later, "and most of them are from mom."
I like to think at least one was Rex Ryan sending a picture of certain parts of Rex Ryan. Or maybe I don't.
3. Koa Misi looked pretty good. He made the first play of the game with a run-stuffing tackle and then beat Donald Penn around the edge on two straight rushes. It's Donald Penn, sure, but there's promise. Since we can't have Jason Taylor, that'll do.
Up next: watching the Marlins break a leg on what's left of their dirt, being slightly annoyed with Tony Sparano that the Dolphins head inside each time a drop threatens to help them practice for these conditions, and hoping Sean Smith's interception doesn't mean, like last year, he's only going to notch them now and not in Real Games.
In other words, another Sunday.