Henne throws 2 TDs in Dolphins 33-17 win
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Sun Sentinel Columnist
10:32 p.m. EST, November 28, 2010
By the end, I learned three things on this trip to Oakland: ...
3. Chad Henne took his career wake-up call seriously.
Maybe the Dolphins quarterback needed the doubt. Maybe he needed the pain. Maybe he needed to be benched by Tony Sparano, because, let's face it, if Henne didn't respond to play well this first start back from benching and injury, maybe he never would.
"I want someone to go out and make me wrong,'' Sparano said after the Dolphins' 33-17 win Sunday. "I have no problem with that."
Henne didn't make anyone wrong Sunday. He didn't regain his status as The Future. One good game doesn't do that. All he regained was his hold on the starting job, which comes with the accompanying warning:
Do it again next week.
And then again the week after.
Helped by the quarterback's best friend of a dominant running game and defense, Henne had his best game of the season. That's not quite the compliment it seems. If you've watched this year, you understand.
But he looked fine for most of Sunday, right from the first play, when he was stepped on going to pass, stumbled, and righted himself to throw 26 yards to Brian Hartline.
"That was a good way to start,'' he said.
All week long, Sparano's question evidently wasn't who he wanted to start. It was if Henne was healthy enough to play after a knee injury two games ago. So all week Henne mixed practice with rehab with preparation, sometimes all together.
"He had his computer out on the training table, working,'' Sparano said.
Yep, his computer. He bought it.
"They don't give you anything in the NFL,'' he said.
The past couple weeks taught him that. He didn't seem to understand being benched for Chad Pennington. That suggested he didn't understand what's demanded of his demanding position.
Maybe he knows now. Maybe his completing 17 of 30 passes for 307 yards and two touchdowns will spark him to better play this final stretch and make the Dolphins second-guess starting over at quarterback next year.
Of course, Sparano didn't trust him fully. He brought in Tyler Thigpen to run on a third-and-long play to set up a field goal rather than risk a Henne interception. Which he might do.
After all, there's always one throw in Henne's game that makes you scratch your head. Even this good game had that. Early in the second quarter, with the Dolphins at the Oakland 11-yard line, Henne threw badly into heavy coverage.
Oakland linebacker Rolando McClain easily intercepted it. Sparano got in Henne's face on sideline.
We'll see where it goes. Sunday doesn't change, erase or mitigate the verdict to bench him. What it does is give him a chance to show something more next week. And the week after.
"For everything he's gone through, he was the same old Chad out there,'' Dolphins receiver Brian Hartline said.
He meant that as a compliment. But for Henne to quiet this off-season's big question, he can't be the same old Chad. He's got to play like this for the next five Sundays.