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Flashback: Miami Dolphins at San Diego Chargers, September 27, 2009

This week on Flashback, we'll hop into the Wayback Machine and look at the last time the Chargers met the Miami Dolphins. Turns out it wasn't that long ago, in fact. The erstwhile Florida squad traveled to San Diego for a Week 3 contest in 2009. San Diego was 1-1, coming off contests against the Oakland Raiders and Baltimore Ravens that left the squad riddled with injuries, and saw Brandyn Dombrowski starting at guard, Scott Mruczkowski starting at center, LaDainian Tomlinson on the bench, and nose tackle Jamal Williams on injured reserve. Miami, on the other hand, was winless, having dropped contests against the Falcons and Colts to start the season.

The Dolphins started noted Charger-killed Chad Pennington at quarterback. Derided for his lack of arm strength, Pennington nevertheless possessed laser-like accuracy and excellent decision-making skills, and this game was no different. After a Charger punt to open the game, Pennington dinked and dunked the Dolphins down the field on a 16-play drive that got them to first and goal on the San Diego 1-yard line. Fortunately, the Chargers had the Gods of Fumble Luck on their side for once. Ronnie Brown fumbled on his way across the goal line, the ball popping out and rolling all the way out of the back of the end zone for a touchback. Threat averted!

The Chargers followed up the fumble by doing something good for once--driving down the field and kicking a field goal. Sure, it wasn't a touchdown, but we can't have everything, can we? The Chargers lead 3-0. Miami punted on their next possession, but quickly got the ball back when Joey Porter forced a Philip Rivers fumble, and with good field position the Dolphins were able to tie the game at 3. With just over 3 minutes to go in the half, the Chargers executed their two-minute drill well, and Rivers guided them to the Miami 22. Unfortunately, Nate Kaeding missed the ensuing 41-yard field goal (one of the only two regular season FGs he'd miss all year), and the team went into the locker room tied at 3.

The Dolphins' first drive of the second half was notable because Chad Pennington left the game due to injury, despite not really suffering a hard shot. I guess that shoulder could only take so much. In came Chad Henne, rookie quarterback. Henne turned out to be not-terrible, and lead the Dolphins on a 12-play drive in the 3td quarter that saw them kick another field goal and take a 6-3 lead.

Then Philip Rivers happened. El Capitan hit Malcom Floyd and Antonio Gates on successive big passing plays, and then ran the ball in him self on 3rd and goal, giving San Diego their first red zone touchdown in two weeks and a 10-6 lead. The Chargers tacked on another pair of field goals to go up 16-6, and with 5:53 remaining in the game, Eric Weddle stepped in front of a Henne pass and took it in for the score, giving the Chargers a 23-6 lead that would prove insurmountable. Miami would score a touchdown in garbage time to make the score 23-13, but that's as close as they would get. The Chargers carried the day.

Today, things actually aren't terribly different. Ronnie Brown isn't on the Dolphins anymore, but Chad Henne is the starter now and is still throwing passes to Davone Bess and Anthony Fasano. Joey Porter is gone, but Cameron Wake is doing his best to terrorize quarterbacks in his stead. The biggest addition the Dolphins have made is trading for Brandon Marshall of prior Denver Bronco fame. Things are kinda lukewarm between Marshall and Miami fans at the moment.

On the San Diego side, we've replaced an aging Tomlinson with up-and-coming Ryan Mathews, but other than that the players are essentially the same on offense. The Chargers still have a ton of injuries that they are trying to overcome, and are hoping it will be enough against a winless Dolphin squad traveling cross-country again. Time will tell if that's the case.