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Week 16 - Dec. 21, 2008

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Posted: 12 hours 56 minutes ago

Pennington-led Dolphins beat cold, Chiefs to stay in playoff hunt

Associated Press

Jamie Squire / Getty Images
Quarterback Chad Pennington and the Dolphins won for the eighth time in their last nine games.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The coldest conditions any Miami team has played in couldn't stop these history-making Dolphins.

Four downs
» Miami needs a win next Sunday at the New York Jets to tie for the best single-season turnaround in NFL history. After going 1-15 in '07, the Dolphins are 10-5 (+9). The Colts went from 3-13 in 1998 to 13-3 (+10) in 1999.

» The temperature was 10 degrees at kickoff, making it the coldest game in Dolphins franchise history. The previous low was played in 14-degree weather at New England in 1977.

» Kansas City's touchdown just over three minutes into the first quarter ended Miami's streak of 12 consecutive quarters without allowing a TD.

» The Chiefs failed to record a sack in the loss and now have just nine on the season. The all-time low in a season is 13, recorded by the Baltimore Colts in 1981.

Thriving in mind-numbing frigidity, Chad Pennington threw three touchdown passes Sunday in a 38-31 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs to continue one of the most remarkable comeback seasons in NFL history.

One year after going 1-15, the Dolphins can clinch the AFC East title next Sunday 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 they needed a 14-point fourth quarter after the Chiefs (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 in which the Dolphins have ever played. No doubt it was even icier when Pennington engineered a 13-play, 85-yard drive capped by his tiebreaking 14-yard touchdown 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 49-year history of the franchise. In its last 24 games, Kansas City is 2-22.

"You play for pride as a football player and as a human being," Chiefs linebacker Rocky Boiman said.

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.

"This game didn't start off real well, but the way they fought back says a lot about who they are, and their character," Kansas City coach Herm Edwards said.

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 Edwards, who remains staunchly supported by almost all of his players.

"A lot of coaches in a situation like this would be looking for the door, would be looking for a way out," Pro Bowl guard Brian Waters said. "Herm's right there in the front, ready to take on all comers."

It was the fourth victory in a row and eighth in the last nine games for the Dolphins, whose previously coldest game was 14 degrees at Foxborough, Mass., on Dec. 11, 1977.

"The biggest thing was trying to keep your fingers from going numb," Dolphins running back Ricky Williams said. "We took care of ourselves and handled it well, I think."

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 seven points or fewer and finish their miserable season next week at Cincinnati. Second-year pro Tyler Thigpen threw for a career-best 320 yards and had two touchdowns, but he also had three interceptions.

Pennington was 26-of-34 passing in the brutal cold, including two touchdown tosses to Fasano.

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After Connor Barth's 24-yard field goal put the Chiefs on top 31-24 in the third quarter, Ricky Williams' 4-yard touchdown run tied it at 31. Then Pennington took the Dolphins on the winning drive.

"The most important thing is we were focused on (win) No. 10 and making history," Pennington said. "That is what today was about. We knew we couldn't get to next week until we took care of this week. We found ways to win all season."

Notes: At 10 degrees, it was exactly 30 degrees warmer than the coldest home game the Dolphins ever played, on Dec. 24, 1989 against, of all teams, the Chiefs. ... The Dolphins lost their previous coldest game, 14-10, at New England. ... The coldest game played at Arrowhead Stadium kicked off at zero degrees on Dec. 18, 1983. ... Kansas City's Tony Gonzalez became the first tight end with four 1,000-yard receiving seasons.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

Best of 2008: Week 16
Miami Dolphins (10-5-0)
Team Leaders Complete Player Stats
C. Pennington 26 34 235 3
P. Cobbs 2 44 22.0 0
R. Williams 12 34 2.8 1
Receiving REC YDS AVG TD
D. Bess 6 57 9.5 0
R. Williams 6 50 8.3 0
Kansas City Chiefs (2-13-0)
Team Leaders Complete Player Stats
T. Thigpen 20 41 320 2
L. Johnson 12 108 9.0 1
T. Thigpen 6 57 9.5 1
Receiving REC YDS AVG TD
J. Charles 3 102 34.0 0
D. Darling 3 69 23.0 1