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Is Miami's ground game good enough?

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
MIAMI -- While much of the focus will be on Chad Pennington's historically bad Sunday when looking back on the Miami Dolphins' demoralizing postseason loss, let's take a moment to point out he didn't have much help in the run game.

The Dolphins carried 21 times for 52 yards in their playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens. The Dolphins tried to run nine times on first down for a grand total of 17 yards.

Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, who went into the season planning to gain 1,000 yards apiece, had 19 yards and 17 yards, respectively.

With such an inability to run, it's no wonder the Ravens were able to tee off on Pennington and take chances in the secondary. The Ravens sacked him three times and intercepted him four times. No Dolphins quarterback had thrown that many interceptions in a playoff game.

The Dolphins all but abandoned the run in the second half, when they rushed for only 22 yards. Five of their seven second-half carries came on their opening two drives before Patrick Cobbs fumbled with 9:42 left in the third quarter.

Pennington went no-huddle on the next possession and completed his first eight passes for 61 yards. Then he threw his fourth interception of the game.

With the season over, there's no need to analyze the state of Miami's run game for next week.
But will the backfield and offensive line, as they're currently constructed, be enough for 2009?

Miami ranked a respectable 11th in the league, running for 1,897 yards. Brown ranked 19th in the league with 916 yards. He scored 10 rushing touchdowns. Williams finished with 659 yards and four touchdowns.

But in 11 games, Brown failed to rush for at least 60 yards. Williams failed to reach 60 yards in all but two games. Seven times, Williams ran for fewer than 30 yards.

The Dolphins couldn't run effectively between the tackles, especially not after Justin Smiley went down with a season-ending leg injury in Week 13. Against great defenses such as the Ravens, the Dolphins couldn't turn the corner either.