Last week, the Dolphins saved their season and maybe a lot of jobs; this week, the Dolphins went back to their Dolphins ways. Today, the team is what the record says -- a below-average group that lacks the proper coaching, players, and toughness to pull off wins once it has the lead. For the third time in four games, the Dolphins racked up a big lead going into halftime, only to lose it in the second half (in two of those, the game resulted in a loss).
After converting a fourth down deep in their own territory, Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers proceeded to march down the field and score the go-ahead TD with 43 seconds left. Absolutely brutal. The defense -- balls-up awesome and nasty throughout much of the game -- buckled when the team needed them most. It didn't help that the team was held scoreless by Carolina's impressive defense and missed more than a few chances to add to its lead owing to a bad pass here or a dropped pass there.
Once again, the Dolphins were the very shining, bright model of imbalance, with 42 pass plays called against 17 rushing plays (in fact, Tannehill was by far the Dolphins' leading rusher, with 36 yards on four scrambles) -- this despite holding the lead for about 99 percent of the game. Completely irresponsible. It was obvious that things were about to get shitty when Cam Newton scored on a short run and followed up his TD by doing the LeBron-Nick Van Exel dance.
I can't even get mad at that.
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When they weren't playing like the Dolphins, things actually were fun for a bit because the offense seemed in control and the defense (particularly the defensive line) was playing lights out, hitting Newton often and forcing the Panthers into long third-down situations. Shit, even Tannehill and $60-million Mike Wallace got on the same page for a single play as Tannehill rolled out and let rip a 53-yard pass to Wallace for a TD that had Twitter all like:
That was awesome, but then Tannehill and Wallace failed to connect another three times, even when it was clear Wallace was open. Tannehill would either underthrow or overthrow. Wallace even had a chance for a walk-off win on the penultimate play of the game but could not adjust to the ball and catch Tannehill's 60-yard heave. It made every Dolphins fan want to vomit right into their underwear.
Ultimately, the Dolphins lost because they are simply NOT GOOD ENOUGH. They're a team that can kinda, sorta hang around with other teams, but they are just about or slightly below average (so, essentially, 7-9 foreverrrrrrarararrr). At 5-6, the Dolphins are still in a very lean playoff hunt for the sixth wildcard spot and tied with the Ravens, Steelers, and Jets for that final spot. However, if the Dolphins were to slip into the playoffs, they would likely not last long because the team cannot close out games with any sort of consistency.