Late rally lets Dolphins get off the hook
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The coldest conditions any Miami team has played in couldn't stop these history-making Dolphins.
Thriving in mind-numbing frigidity, Chad Pennington threw three touchdown passes yesterday in a 38-31 victory over Kansas City to continue one of the most remarkable comeback seasons in NFL history.
A year after going 1-15, the Dolphins can clinch the AFC East next weekend by beating the New York Jets, the team that cast Pennington aside when it acquired Brett Favre.
"This is the only way fate would have it, right?" Pennington said. "I just don't think it would happen any other way. There wouldn't be any other scenario. This is how sports works."
The Dolphins (10-5) became the first team to win 10 games after winning only one the previous season, but needed a 14-point second-half rally after Kansas City (2-13) took a 31-24 lead late in the third.
The temperature at the noon kickoff was 10 degrees with a wind chill of minus-12, the coldest conditions the Dolphins have ever played in. But Pennington was able to engineer a 13-play, 85-yard drive capped by his tiebreaking 14-yard TD pass to Anthony Fasano with 4:08 left.
"Right now, [the drive] is a blur," Pennington said. "It was so cold, my brain is not working real well. I can just remember time after time it was somebody making a play, breaking a tackle, making a catch, making a big block, making play after play to keep the drive going."
It was the second-coldest game played at Arrowhead Stadium, where the Chiefs (2-13) concluded the home portion of the worst season in the franchise's 49-year history. In their last 24 games, the Chiefs are 2-22. Coming six days after the abrupt resignation of general manager Carl Peterson, the loss would seem to cast even more doubt on the future of coach Herm Edwards.
After quickly falling behind, 10-0, when the Dolphins scored on their first play from scrimmage, the Chiefs fought back and took a 28-24 halftime lead.
It was the fourth victory in a row and eighth in nine games for the Dolphins, whose coldest game had been 14 degrees at Foxborough, Mass., Dec. 11, 1977.
A Miami defense that hadn't yielded a touchdown in three weeks gave up four TDs and a season-high 492 yards to the Chiefs, who have lost eight games by 7 points or fewer. Tyler Thigpen threw for a career-best 320 yards and had two touchdowns, but also three interceptions.
After Connor Barth's 24-yard field goal put the Chiefs up, 31-24, in the third quarter, Ricky Williams's 4-yard TD run tied it.