"It's 'all in' the rest of the way," Porter said after the Dolphins' fourth consecutive victory.
Who would have believed the 1-15 Dolphins of 2007, who surrendered 299 yards of offense to the Raiders in a 35-17 loss, would be 6-4 entering a rematch against New England on Sunday at Dolphin Stadium?
The win over Oakland already matches the best turnaround in team history -- from 4-12 in 2004 to 9-7 in 2005. And the best turnaround in NFL history, Indianapolis' 13-3 in 1998 from 3-13 in 1997, is still possible.
What Sunday's game, decided by Dan Carpenter's 38-yard field goal with 38 seconds left and Porter's sack of Oakland's JaMarcus Russell on the first play after the kickoff, did was up the ante on the remaining six games.
"When you're inconsistent and win one here and lose one there, the stakes remain the same," quarterback Chad Pennington said. "When you start to win and put some wins together and get in the thick of things, the stakes are raised, and that's what you want."
Coach Tony Sparano got his message across about the Patriots game by not giving the players the customary Monday off after a win.
"I expect to see some people show up to the place in a bad mood as the week goes on because that is what it is going to take," Sparano said. "We've already played them. There's no secrets."
If the Dolphins do nothing else in their first practice for New England, they had better work on special teams, the one area that has been anything but special.
Johnnie Lee Higgins' 93-yard punt return gave the Raiders, who haven't scored an offensive touchdown in 13 quarters, a 15-14 lead with 4:30 to play. The Dolphins are 31st in the NFL in average return yards allowed on punts and 32nd on kickoffs.
"We are playing dodge ball with bullets," said defensive back Jason Allen. "If we keep putting the offense and defense in bad holes, it will eventually cost us."
|Chad Pennington gives Miami a playoff veteran at quarterback. (US Presswire)|
"Nobody has led this offense like Chad since Dan Marino," Porter said. "He has been in charge since the day that he got here."
The biggest play in the drive was a 7-yard Pennington completion to Ted Ginn Jr. on fourth-and-5 from the Oakland 35. It put the game on the foot of Carpenter, the rookie from Montana.
"I haven't had more than three of four game-winning kicks in my career. We didn't play a lot of close games at Montana," Carpenter said. "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little nervous."
On the first play after the kickoff, Porter put an exclamation point on the game with a 5-yard sack of Russell, and the defense finished its day allowing only 70 rushing yards and 186 total.
"I was fired up for this game," said Porter, who leads the NFL with 13.5 sacks. "They hung 299 yards on us last year, and that sticks with you. It was terrible defense."
The Dolphins aren't blowing opponents out, but they are finding ways to win, like the Wildcat offense that has been used 59 times for 420 yards (7.1-yard average) and eight touchdowns.
They unveiled the Wildcat in the Week 3 38-13 win over New England, using it six times for 119 yards and four touchdowns.
"Last year, we would have lost a game like today," Allen said, "but we are learning how to finish."
The Dolphins are poised to make a stretch run for the playoffs, a place they haven't been since 2001. The record of the remaining opponents is 24-35, but four of the six games are on the road.
As the Dolphins move into December, it will be what's ahead, not what's behind them, that matters, and historically, Santa Claus has had few gifts for them. In the past 20 years, the team has only had five winning records in December/January games, and its road record is 8-28.
But this is a new regime. There are 30 players -- including Ricky Williams for the most part -- who weren't on the team last year, and a number of the leftovers like Porter and defensive end Vonnie Holliday are playoff veterans.
"Every time you win," Holliday said, "you give yourself an opportunity to be on a bigger stage and have a bigger opportunity.
"That's where we are, and while no believed we could be here, we did."