It’s never easy to lose in the playoffs or for that matter at all. It’s a sinking feeling that you have to wait an entire year before you get the chance to redeem yourself. Fans are rather one sided. They feel the pain of their teams elimination while never really appreciating the emotion of another. In many cases it’s a matter of not really caring. Take New England for example. I doubt there are many Miami Dolphins fans crying right now over their elimination from the playoffs in week 17…or for that matter in last years Super Bowl. I don’t and you would be right to assume that feeling being reciprocated after this weekends loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
The bitter taste of losing resonates when a fan wakes on a Monday morning and the loss is still fresh. It continues to the next week and so on. The off-season is the worse there is no next week. For the Miami Dolphins and the Baltimore Ravens though, it was about turning around your franchise into something that you could see on the field. Something that made sense. Something that wasn’t decided in week 7 when “mathematically alive” really meant, “look to next season loser”.
The worst part about the game was not the loss it was the way the game was lost. Four interceptions by Chad Pennington, a fumble by Patrick Cobbs, 5 on the game and one pick 6 when in the entire season the team as a whole only turned it over 13 times. That was hard to watch.
Still, while the mainstream media and of course Ravens fans will not say it, and perhaps it’s simply a handfull of Phins fans that will, the Dolphins actually played well…sans the 5 turnovers. In fact, they played well enough to win the game.
From a fan standpoint it’s difficult to watch a game objectively but it is something that I try and focus on even as a blog writer. While the Ravens won by a large margin the tale of the game was a lot different. 3 points instead of 7 on the Phins opening drive following a Ravens turnover and the 4th quarter looks a lot different.
The Ravens only held a 13-3 lead at half-time and while their vaunting defense is hard to score anything on, the Phins actually found a way and almost completed a 17 point turnaround. The issue again however was turnovers, something that can not be taken away from the Ravens defense and the pressure they put on Chad Pennington. Still, you take away a pick 6 INT and the half ends at 6-3…could have been 7-6 Miami.
As the 3rd quarter expired, the Ravens offense began to wilt and the Dolphins found a groove. Stretching the field the Phins came within 11 after a missed point after attempt…from a very reliable rookie Dan Carpenter…it was blocked.
Forcing the Ravens into a 3 and out the Phins headed back down-field and when it looked like things were finally moving and there was a chance that the 20-9 lead could change to a 20-17 score with 8 minutes left, the logical thing happened. The Ravens crammed the line, Ted Ginn fumbled the exchange and a 3rd and 26 took the team out of field goal position and made a first down impossible.
The Ravens played very solid defense and their offense made no mistakes after that first series. Was it a good game? No, had the Phins won in an epic come from behind victory the game still would not be exciting. It was a defensive battle most of the game and the offenses on eithe side never really got off to a proper start.
It was a finish to a Cinderella season for one team and a continuation of expectations for another. In the end, both teams walk away winners after what the placed on the field last season and win or lose by either team and as a fan you have to be pleased…not ecstatic…but pleased.