The Dolphins appeared to be on the verge of their first victory of the still young season. They had this one in the palm of their hands all the way up until the fourth quarter. They were so close to this one that head coach Tony Sparano could taste it.
Yes, it was against the abysmal Cleveland Browns, and yes, Miami’s record would still only be 1-2, but everyone in Dol-Fan Nation would take a victory on this day-especially after we all saw how the game really turned out.
With only 48 seconds to go, the Dolphins were about to squander away a six point lead, after going up six with a Dan Carpenter 38 yard field goal.
The Browns were in the red-zone, courtesy of a last minute drive led by Cleveland quarterback Colt McCoy. The Dolphins defense has had a reputation of “bending, but not breaking” over the past few years, so even then, history would say that the odds were on the Dolphins side even in this situation.
But maybe Sparano and the rest of his regime have finally run out of luck. Maybe this is the tip of the iceberg for Sparano and general manager Jeff Ireland. Two losses to the Patriots and Texans can be chalked up to just plain inferiority, but when you boast a team that is clearly better than the Browns (who were even missing their best player, Peyton Hillis), then anything other than a ten point win is inexcusable.
The Dolphins are in shambles right now. That is the current state of the franchise. And all of this came at the hands of the Cleveland Browns.
A Montario Hardesty fourth down conversion here, a Mohammad Massoquio touchdown there, and there you have the Browns final drive in a nutshell.
With a defense that was not able to get any pressure on Colt McCoy all day, failing to even record one sack, as opposed to the Browns five. Add everything up along with a long touchdown pass to Josh Cribbs where Miami corner Sean Smith appeared to lose the ball in the lights, and you have the Dolphins sixth straight loss dating back to last year.
The big storyline in the game was the Browns simply biding their time all throughout the game up until the fourth quarter, when they decided to go in for the kill, and take the win for themselves.
They stopped the Miami offense when needed. They held Brandon Marshall and Reggie Bush in check on the day, and pressured Chad Henne enough to try and make him make mistakes. The lone bright spot on offense again was rookie Daniel Thomas, who ran for 95 yards on 23 carries.
On defense, much was the same as it has been in the two previous games, no player stood out, they let the opposing team make the big plays at will, whether it was by some fluke luck, like Smith losing the ball in the sun, or by sheer will to win, like McCoy’s last minute drive, they just could not get the job done again, for the third straight game.
But to say that the defense let this team down really is not the full story, as the Miami had a chance to get into field goal range with 43 seconds to go, on the Browns 47 yard line after two penalties by the Browns, with one timeout on their side.
Henne threw three straight incompletions, and then capped the drive off with a game ending interception. Typical, inconsistent Henne, and typical, inconsistent Miami Dolphins. They are now 0-3, and not that I think this would be in their best interest, but unless they upset the San Diego Chargers next week, Sparano could be gone before the BYE week in Week 5.
Here’s the statline (from NFL.com), from the game, where you can see for yourself exactly how mediocre this team looked today: