The Dolphin Report

By Ron Poltorack

A NEW LOW

The Miami Dolphins travelled to Tampa Bay for an appearance on Monday Night Football and set a new low while losing 22-19.  Actually, they set a couple of new lows on national television.  The 2 yards total rushing was the lowest total in the entire history of the franchise.  But the biggest low has to be losing to a Buccaneers team that entered the game at 0-8, was without their star running back and had their second string running back knocked out of the ballgame early on.  This game pitted a 4-4 Fins’ team that was actually more dysfunctional that the winless Buccaneers’ team it played.  The only saving grace is that there probably weren’t too many television sets tuned into the battle of these two dysfunctional teams that somehow found their way onto Monday Night Football.  One would think that this game would be enough to make ESPN demand a Monday flex schedule in future years so they can avoid such a horrendous matchup.

The Dysfunctionalfins found themselves behind 15-0 with less than 4 minutes remaining in the first half.   That’s when the Buccaneers decided to start playing like the 0-8 team that has their fan base paying for billboards demanding that the head coach be fired.  So Ryan Tannehill marched the Fins downfield for a touchdown that would close the gap to 15-7 at the half.  With the Fins getting the ball to start the second half, there was hope that the Fins would close the gap further.  But that wasn’t to be, although the Fins eventually fought back to take a 19-15 lead.  It would have been 20-15, but Joe Philbin elected to go for a 2-point conversion which was unsuccessful.  Not to worry, the Fins defense would surrender a touchdown early in the fourth quarter which would allow them to retake the lead.

The offensive line certainly has to answer for this loss.  It did not open holes for the running game.  But for a 2-yard QB sneak for a first down, the Fins’ rushing total for the night would have been zero.  And when the game was on the line in the last few minutes, the line gave up sacks on first and second down forcing the Fins into a desperate third-and-28 situation.  Ryan Tannehill then grossly underthrew a deep pass to Mike Wallace resulting in an interception that effectively ended the game.  So pin the blame for this loss on the offensive line (with “honorable mention” to 6’5”, 312-pound Jonathan Martin who single handedly decimated the line in the last two weeks when he abandoned his teammates and took down Richie Incognito on his way home to cry to his mother that he was bullied at the playground).

The bright spots in this loss were few and far between.  Second-year wide receiver Rishard Matthews more than doubled his career totals for receptions and receiving yards.  Coming into the game he had 10 career catches for 117 yards.  Against the Buccaneers he had 11 catches for 120 yards.  Brandon Fields had an impressive 51.4-yard gross punting average (but that was tarnished by the 72 return yards allowed which brought his net down to an unimpressive 34.0).  As you can see, there was not too much in the plus column on Monday Night.

So the Fins fell to 4-5 in this ugly season.  The ugly loss to the Bucs assuredly won’t get the national media to stop talking about Bullygate, but it will give them more ammunition to talk about the effects that Bullygate has had on the Dysfunctionalfins.  Right now Dolfans may start regretting the season-opening 3-game winning streak as that may end up the only thing that stands in the way of the Fins’ getting the first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.  Things look that bleak for this team the rest of this season.  Between Bullygate and losses in 5 of the last 6 games, it is difficult to imagine that this team will be able to turn around the downward spiral.

With the Fins’ setting a couple of new lows on Monday Night Football, there was one good thing about it.  At least, these new lows were on the football field for a change.

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