CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Six days ago, before they faced the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, coach Tony Sparano told his team to strive for one mark by the time they took the coming weekend off: 5-5.
Sure Sparano was talking about multiple games and he usually preaches one at a time, but, "I looked a game ahead, I guess is what I'm saying. We knew we had two games in a short period of time and we knew it was going to be critical for us to take care of two football games to get ourselves back in position to make a charge."
Well, get the credit cards out because the Dolphins believe they are charging.
But first the bad news: Defensive tackle Jason Ferguson suffered a knee injury Thursday and did not return to the game. The Dolphins believe the injury is" serious," according to a source, and have scheduled an MRI for Friday.
The source declined to be specific about his definition for "serious." It is likely Ferguson will miss playing time but unclear if he is done for the remainder of the season.
The Dolphins find themselves in the playoff hunt today.
"We're back at eye-level now," said Nate Jones, who had an interception Friday. "We're back at ground zero. We're 5-5. We're have two huge division games coming up. We've put ourselves in a position to make a huge dent in this division and the league.
"We don't control our own destiny but we put ourselves in a position to make a run."
This game had many heroes.
Ricky Williams rushed for 119 yards on 22 carries. It was his second consecutive 100-yard game.
"I don't want to talk about myself," Williams said. "I want to talk about the team. We struggled a bit during the game, but the defense kept it close to give us an opportunity and give us time to get it together."
Yeremiah Bell made a tackle on DeAngelo Williams after a 50-yard gain. That came just before Jones got his interception.
"Without the tackle they score a touchdown," Bell said accurately. "It saved some points for the defense. I can run a little bit. I'm not going to downplay myself. I can run. And that's my job. It's to save touchdowns. I'm the last guy on the back end and I expect to make those plays."
Nate Garner was a hero. He played left guard, right tackle and center during the game as Jake Grove, Joe Berger and Vernon Carey went out with injuries. Carey and Berger returned. Grove did not return after his ankle injury.
"I'll play wherever they want me to play," Garner said.
Sparano said he never coached a game where so many players, particularly offensive linemen, went down.
"One time when I was an offensive line coach in Cleveland I was down to my last offensive lineman and he got poked in the eye and came out of the game, and I was coaching a defensive tackle right there in the middle and he finished the game," Sparano said. "But this thing today, they were going down left and right. I'm kind of happy we played on a Thursday and we got a couple of extra days.
"If another guy went down, I don't know where we would have gone. I don't know if they would have liked it but we would have been poking on one of those defensive line guys, maybe Merling."
As I wrote in my column, Chad Henne outplayed Jake Delhomme. After three quarters, Delhomme had completed only 9 of 21 passes. He was terrible. Henne was not spectacular -- completing 17 of 21 passes for 172 yards. But he avoided the big mistake and completed three big third-down passes.
"Ricky Williams stepped up today, and Lex Hilliard got in there," Henne said. "The wide receivers stepped up and the offensive line is playing great. Pass protection is great, I had a lot of time back there. All together we're forming a team and we're not putting it on anyone's shoulders."