For Dolphins, close losses are still losses

By Anthony Bialy  |   Thursday, November 15, 2007  |  Comments( 1 )

Miami Dolphins
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Being on the verge of success doesn't cut it. The fact the 0-9 Miami Dolphins have lost by only a little bit in both the past two weeks and the majority of their games can't displace the brutal truth that they keep finishing second in two-man races. Falling a field goal short is better than getting trounced, but acquiring and employing a killer instinct is an ability they either don't have or haven't discovered.

Overall, finding out that Miami has surrendered more points than it has put up is the least surprising statistical find in football history. Um, aside from the rather obvious fact that it would be impossible for a winless team to have collectively outscored its opponents, the important thing is that the Dolphins have tallied 176 points, which stands at 18th in the NFL.

On the other hand, they've surrendered 257 points. That's second-worst in the league; they're sandwiched between the Ohio teams, as the horrid Bengals are 30th in points allowed while the defensively embarrassing Browns have given up one more touchdown than the Dolphins. The difference between Miami's two totals is 81, which means it has lost games by an average of exactly nine points.

Of course, the margin has varied from game to game, and the story of this season is that the Dolphins have managed to lose in many different ways. That includes an occasional blowout: For example, the Dolphins fell by 17 to the NFC's best, Dallas, and by three touchdowns to the league's top overall team, New England.

Neither of those results could be considered shocking, although the 18-point defeat at Oakland's hands was particularly egregious. But the more notably unnerving Miami losses have been those where the team has been nearby triumph but ultimately found itself unable to impose its will opponents.

The Dolphins have lost many games by small margins, if it's any consolation, which it isn't. Back-to-back field goal losses to the Giants and Bills in the previous two games, respectively, are two of the incredible five contests they've lost by three. That indicates on one hand that this team is remaining competitive and keeping games close. On the other side, it also unfortunately reveals that the 2007 Dolphins have no collective idea how to knock down an opponent and get that final score.

The upcoming opponent, the Eagles, have looked good depending on the week. They've lost a pair of games themselves by three teeny points, but they've also won two by a touchdown and their last game by eight over Washington.

Philadelphia is sort of OK at finishing off opponents when necessary; sadly for the Dolphins, being inconsistently middling at just about anything usually means you're doing better than them. This includes not just obviously measurable aspects such as passer rating or rush yard averages but also psychological facets such as outplaying adversaries late in tight contests.

Unless Miami is content with hanging around and counting valiant stands as near-equivalents to victory, this team's veterans such as its Jason Taylors and Joey Porters along with its novice pro head coach need to motivate everyone else to persevere until the end. The Dolphins need to take that next step so they can feel better about more than preventing the Eagles from running away with a laugher.
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About Anthony Bialy

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