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Different? Dolphins have more dogs on the roster

Something was different on Sunday.

Sure there are the factoids that tell you it was different. The Dolphins snapped a Patriots 61-game win streak in games when they forced three or more turnovers. The Dolphins turned the ball over three times and won anyway.

And the Dolphins are in first place, tied with the Jets and Buffalo. The Patriots are in last place and it marks the first time that Tom Brady is in sole possession of last place in the AFC East. Ever.

But beyond that and, as I write in my column in today's Miami Herald, on this day the Dolphins played like a different team than we've been used to.

This team played with emotion, confidence, and a physical approach that was downright inspiring. It inspired the fans. It inspired the players who felt it.

“Everybody was feeding off the energy," linebacker Chris McCain told me as he compared the moment while also recounting the trials he's been through in that he was out of football for nearly eight months and Sunday's game was his first in nearly a year after he was kicked off the team at the University of California last year.

"I was getting energy from a lot of people. Going back, I don’t even like to think about it now because I’m here. And I’m done dropping my tears about it. The people know who they are who doubted me. They see where I am and see where we are. Nobody would have thought Miami in the first game in this division would beat New England. We showed them. We got 15 more games to finish up strong. I believe we can do it."

McCain is an inspiring story. Although I am not fully certain why he was kicked off the Cal football team, I'm sure it wasn't because he was on the straight and narrow. But something has apparently clicked (so far) for this kid.

“I’ve been blessed," he said. "It’s been plenty of chances I could have been down and out or just being the average person out on the street but God kept his wings around me, kept his hands on me and he got me here. It’s all on God. This is all God.

"The most overwhelming part is being on this stage. Being on this stage and being able to play with the Dolphins. Just being here is big. Just being able to put on a uniform.

“It is mind blowing. A lot of people told me I couldn’t be here. But going through the whole draft process, Miami was calling me, showing their interest a lot. They believed in me. I’m glad I’m here. I love to be here. This staff is about winning and taking care of their players. It’s real mind blowing just going through what I went through. Some guys would have quit and gave up. But just the grind and the edge to keep eating and staying hungry for this and hoping some day getting here, and to do is …”

Mind blowing.

I like this kid's story although I only have an incomplete version. I'm sure it will get better. He had a sack and a blocked punt in his first NFL game.

Welcome to the NFL, rookie.

McCain is the personification of what happened on Sunday. He really wasn't supposed to be here, according to, well, him. Jelani Jenkins wasn't supposed to be in the game. Jonathan Freeny wasn't supposed to be in the game.

But with the entire starting linebacker corps -- Koa Misi, Dannell Ellerbe and Phillip Wheeler out -- it was up to the reserves to step up. By the way, Misi walked out of the locker room in a walking boot. Ellerbe could hardly walk as he left with some sort of hip injury. He actually had trouble putting one foot in front of the other and he was wearing some sort of wrapping around his hips.

Yet with the backups, the Dolphins held New England to 67 total yards in the second half. This while the Dolphins were amassing 222 yards. That is how a 20-10 deficit turned into a 33-20 win.

By the way, the offense showed up bigtime. Read how that went.

Afterward, someone who works for the team was agreeing with me that we should not draw bold conclusions and make season-lasting proclamations about the Dolphins based off one game. Coach Joe Philbin will Tuesday (players are off Monday) tell his players that it is a new week and a new challenge and the New England game is behind them and forgotten. It is only one game.

But this much is certain: This team has more fight in it.

It has more dog in it, as they used to say in my old 'hood.

Louis Delmas? Dog.

Cortland Finnegan? Dog.

McCain? Puppy. But a dog nonetheless.

Knowshon Moreno? Dog. He's a strange cat, as I wrote in my column. But he's also a dog.

Daryn Colledge? Dog.

I'm not saying that means the Dolphins roll through the schedule. I. Am. Not. Predicting. That.

But it will be a lot harder for a roster with this kind of passion to play a game like it played in Buffalo or against the Jets at home to end last year. In that regard, well done Dennis Hickey.

Already that is an undeniable upgrade.

Hey, did I tell you to read my column?