MIAMI TURNING THINGS AROUND
Tony Sparano’s Miami Dolphins had plenty of staying power in their overtime victory over the Packers this Sunday, a big change after consecutive losses at home, and exactly what the team was hoping for to elevate them over a .500 standing in the league. "It's definitely something to build on," safety Yeremiah Bell said. "We talked about it the night before the game: playing a complete game and not beating ourselves. It puts a good taste in your mouth. Hopefully we can keep that taste for a long time, and guys can get used to it."
The Dolphins twice came from behind in Wisconsin and for the first time this season, they outscored an opponent after halftime. It was Dan Carpenter's 44-yard field goal six minutes into overtime that gave Miami the 23-20 victory.
The Dolphins will likely need four solid quarters again this coming Sunday to beat the AFC North leader Pittsburgh Steelers who are currently 4-1.
After back-to-back defeats against their AFC East rivals the Jets and Pats, the Dolphins shriveled under the glare of prime time. The loss to Brady and Co. with a final score of 34-7 was especially brutal.
What changed for the South Florida team? In addition to the numerous pep talks spearheaded by head coach Tony Sparano, the return of chatty inside linebacker Channing Crowder who returned to the starting lineup after missing the first four games with a groin injury helped quite a bit. Crowder even tried to contribute before the game began.
"On the plane, in the locker room, at the hotel, just to break up the quiet," Crowder said. "People are always looking at the ground scared and walking around worried before the game. It's still a football game. I bring a coolness to the team: 'Let's go out and have fun and enjoy what we do and play like we're playing in the back yard’.”
And it looks like that was just what they needed.
The Buffalo Bills may have a ray of hope with the return of tight end Shawn Nelson, who hasn't played a game in almost two months. Nelson’s hiatus began with a groin injury that was coupled with a league suspension for violating its substance abuse policy. The two issues have kept Nelson watching from afar as his teammates have struggled with a winless start through five games. Nelson, though, could be back on Sunday when Buffalo returns from its bye to play at the Ravens at Baltimore.
"I'll be ready. I'm more than sure I'll be ready," Nelson said. "It's no fun at all sitting at home watching when you know you can be out here helping these guys win and trying to make plays."
NEW ENGLAND UPDATE:
In an uncharacteristic admission of fault from the usually smug Patriots, New England’s Brandon Meriweather apologized on Monday for an illegal hit on Baltimore Ravens tight end Todd Heap in the Pats victory on Sunday. It was one of several jarring hits on Sunday that NFL VP Ray Anderson told NFL.com were "egregious," "flagrant," and "really disturbing." Anderson said the NFL may start suspending players for violent hits that put other players at risk.
Despite the mea culpa, Merriweather did find time to defend his play.
"I'm going to be aggressive, point blank," Meriweather said “I won't change my game, period. I'm sorry it happened. Heap is actually a real good friend of mine. I talked to him yesterday and let him know it wasn't intentional and he told me he understood."
If Heap is a good friend of his, we’d hate to see what he’d do to an enemy…