By Stephen A. Norris
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 10, 2007
With a new offensive-minded head coach in Cam Cameron and the addition of two-time Pro Bowl quarterback Trent Green, the Miami Dolphins were hoping to energize a stagnant offense that averaged 16.2 points per game last season.
Their 16-13 loss to the Redskins yesterday in the season-opener at FedEx Field, however, offered little hope for change. Missed opportunities and penalties kept the Dolphins from gaining momentum on offense for most of the day.
"Washington did a great job on defense today, but we had control over some of those opportunities," Green said.
The Dolphins still had a chance to win the game late in the fourth quarter, but Redskins cornerback Fred Smoot jumped a route to break up a pass to Marty Booker on third down at the Dolphins 40. Had Smoot caught the ball, which hit him in the hands, it at least would have put the Redskins close to field-goal range.
Instead, Dolphins were forced to punt. The Redskins scored on the first drive of overtime.
"You're trying to make a play, and that was one I shouldn't have tried to make," Green said. "Fortunately, he is a defensive back and not a wide receiver. There is a reason he is on that side of the ball."
With the Dolphins running game held to 66 yards and the Redskins using a cover-3 defense to protect against the deep ball, Green was looking for short passes most of the day. For the first three quarters he found success throwing right -- where Smoot was covering -- completing 5 of 9 passes to that side for 45 yards. On the Dolphins' opening drive of the fourth quarter, however, Green threw to Smoot's side four times and was unable to complete a pass.
Smoot "started to tighten up a little bit," Booker said. "Once you start getting beat a couple times that happens."
Smoot, who was drafted by the Redskins in 2001, was acquired in the offseason after being let go by the Vikings. He had 16 interceptions in four seasons in Washington but just three in two seasons in Minnesota. Smoot admitted to getting harassed by his teammates after the game for not catching the ball.
"I'll take this razzing until I get a pick," Smoot said. "When I pick one off, they'll leave me alone for a minute, but I should have ended that game."
Green did find some success wherever Chris Chambers lined up, connecting with the veteran six times for 92 yards.
"Chris is a very gifted receiver," Green said. "Not to take anything away from Marty [Booker]. It's just that Chris was having a good day, so we kept going with that."
Miami marched into the red zone three times but scored a touchdown only once when Green connected with Justin Peelle on a one-yard rollout as time expired in the second quarter. That touchdown gave the Dolphins a 7-3 lead.
Miami appeared in position to score a touchdown trailing 13-10 with a little more than three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. A 12-yard run by Ronnie Brown put Miami on the Washington 28, and a pass interference call on cornerback Carlos Rogers on the ensuing play moved the Dolphins to the 8. But back-to-back penalties for holding and intentional grounding pushed the Dolphins back to the 28, forcing Miami to settle for a game-tying 36-yard field goal by Jay Feely.
"We beat ourselves," Chambers said. "Our defense gave us field position all day long, and we just didn't capitalize."