Dolphins Fail To Close, Lose By One

The Miami Dolphins rode a three game winning streak into Dallas today to celebrate Thanksgiving, they leave for home with a one point loss and a final wrap on the post season chatter that was long in the tooth.  Simply, they failed to close out a game that they should have won, echoing portions of their seven game losing streak to start the season.

Early on the game looked to be one that would put Miami in the drivers seat for one of the best turnarounds in NFL history.  A stifling defense forced two Tony Romo turnovers and the Dolphins front kept RB Demarco Murray from being an impact.  Through the first two quarters the Dolphins defense stood their ground and kept the Cowboys from reaching the endzone until the final minute of the first half.  Following a fumbled snap that gave the Cowboys the ball at the Miami 5, the defense gave up their first TD in almost 14 quarters of play.

The offense would drive down the field and kick a field goal to go into halftime down by six.

Opening the second half the Dolphins appeared ready to take the game over but Matt Moore who has been lauded over the last three weeks of football came out erratic and scattered.  Under constant pressure from both sides of the line, he was unable to make smart decisions.  While he did not throw any interceptions, his inconsistencies were prominent.  Overthrown passes, scrambles that netted no yards, dumping off to covered receivers for no yards, missing wide open targets, and taking sacks instead of getting rid of the ball.  Yet for his fallacies through most of the third quarter, the Dolphins still managed to stay in the game.

Moore, while up and down, led the Dolphins on four consecutive scoring drives helped by great catches by Brian Hartline and Davone Bess as well as a fantastic TD catch by Brandon Marshall who was mauled by the defender.  Moore managed to not only keep the Dolphins in the game, but put the team ahead with five minutes left in the game.  The defense held on the first series but the offense went into safe mode.  Needing a first down or two, the Dolphins ran up the middle, ran Moore to the right, and failed to complete a first down pass sending the ball back to Dallas.

And that is when the Dolphins failed to close the game out.  Dez Bryant returned the punt 38 yards and Tony Romo managed to slither his way out of traffic to make clutch passes to his TE, Jason Witten.  When the Dolphins had them on the line for a long third down, they were unable to shut the Cowboys down and eventually, the final field goal sailed through the uprights as the clock ticked to zero.

For Miami it spells the end to what many thought could be a miracle turnaround and now with the playoffs finally an afterthought for what should be for good, the question now becomes how many more games will the Dolphins win and where will their draft slotting be?  The Dolphins played well enough to win and in fact should have won the game but should have’s don’t go into the win columns.  Losses do.  The next two weeks are very winnable for the Dolphins as they face the Oakland Raiders at home and then the Eagles before traveling to Buffalo and New England prior to their season finale back in Miami against the Jets.

With the way this team is playing football, they could easily win four of their last five games.  That will not be enough to get them into the playoffs but will be enough to be met with fans anger over yet another wasted season and a mid-teen draft pick in round one.  Out likely of any chance at a top three quarterback prospect.  The loss today, again while fought hard, may be the final nail in the Tony Sparano proverbial coffin.

Speculation was beginning to pick up that maybe, just maybe, Sparano could be retained at seasons end with a win out.  That won’t happen now and the best the team can finish is .500 not enough to likely sway the mind of owner Stephen Ross who will need to make a decision in the week following the last game of the season.

While it’s a “downer” that the team lost, positives can still be taken from it, especially if you look towards next season.  The team played hard and while mistakes were made, the fact that they were once again a matter of seconds away from a win shows that the team doesn’t quit.  They just can’t close it out.  Kevin Burnett stepped up and had a very solid game as did Vontae’ Davis who intercepted his second pass in as many games.

Jared Odrick didn’t get to do the “Pee Wee Herman” but he was disruptive in the Cowboys back-field where they failed to finish as well.  Offensively, it appears that Matt Moore may not be the savior that many have been wondering aloud but it is evident that he will be a perfect bridge for this team and has the respect of his offensive players.  Moore will enter the 2012 training camp as the starter barring a big off-season trade, and that’s not a bad thing.

Ironically, Moore returned today where he started.  As a Dallas Cowboy with Bill Parcells, Jeff Ireland, and Tony Sparano where they tried to slide him onto the practice squad.   He was poached by the Panthers.  Moore wasn’t his stellar self that he has been the last three games but statistically was better than his counterpart putting up 288 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions with most of those yards coming in the second half.

So today the Dolphins fly back home with another loss on their record and frankly while they played this game to win, they didn’t have that final push to make it a reality.  It’s where teams who know how to win pull it out and teams that don’t or are learning fail.  The Dolphins are trying to learn how to win.  Unfortunately, any fruition of those labors will have to wait until next year.

Topics: Dallas Cowboys, Matt Moore, Miami Dolphins, Tony Romo, Tony Sparano

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  • jimpls72

    Coaching lost this game. Phins should have gone for two after TD to go up by 7 instead of 6.
    I still think that they should look at Kellen Moore in the draft. Very accurate and smart. I hope they don’t trade away the draft to get a “top three”. They need more then just a qb.

  • Iam305Jules

    I ranted and raved before the game that the Dolphins had to play 4 full quarters and my comments, which went on different sites, even called for the battle cry from the sidelines should be “Play 4 full quarters” not “Play for 3 and pray in the 4th”,

  • Lespaul

    Uh, the reason the Dolphins lost this game was Matt Moore. What game were you watching? if he had hit Bess on a 3rd and 7 with less than 3 minutes left we probably would have run the clock out or at least be in position to kick a FG. But instead, he threw the ball behind Bess…an arrant throw, like he had done the whole game and we had to punt the ball. Matter of fact, Matt Moore missed an open Hartline in the back of the endzone. Missed an open Clay on the sideline on the 5 yardline….a probable TD. So, 2 points is meaningless compared to the 6+ points that the Dolphins could have had on several occasions. Its amazing to me that people cannot see Matt Moore for what he really is….a solid back-up. So, until this team wakes-up and drafts a No. 1 QB and the studs to block for him, they will be bottom feeders yet again next year. I like Kellen Moor, but I am afraid he cannot see over the big butts in the NFL. He’s a very smart guy though and makes great decisions. He doesn’t have the arm or the height. Poor guy would be one hit away from the IR. This was the problem with Steve Walsh and Ken Dorsey….great College QB’s, but they got hammered in the NFL.

  • ChrisLeeuw

    @Lespaul Moore had a few shaky throws, but didn’t play that poorly..except of course for the fumbles…which I think had something to do with Pouncey. They weren’t on the same page

  • Iam305Jules

    @Lespaul I was watching the game that the Dolphins, again fail to score on their last drive and fail to stop a come from behind win by the opponent… again…analyze it all if you wish but AGAIN, killer instinct at the end is AWOL and that is a common denominator for a few losses with and before Moore.

  • ChrisLeeuw

    @jimpls72 Not sure about Kellen..I actually like Texas A & M’s Ryan Tannehill better… At this point I hope Landry Jones is in the picture.

  • Lespaul

    @ChrisLeeuw what drove me crazy wer the overthrows and passes behind the receivers. Hell, Bess had to make a circus catch over the middle just to keep a drive alive. Definitely could have won the game had he made the throws when they needed them most.

  • Henneneedstime

    Matt Moore is the immediate answer at QB if Barkley or Luck are not available. I was at this game and I have to say Matt played a good game. Yes he missed some throws but he made some great ones too. I like sparano as a man but you can’t run the clock out with Bush! Never gonna happen, he’s not that kinda back. Also the refs missed a pass interference on Newman against Marshall in the first quarter that would have put dolphins on the scoreboard early. It was a blatant call that was missed and no one has said anything

  • Iam305Jules

    @Henneneedstime I agree with you in that they should’ve never tried to run the clock out, but I’ll go a little further, you can’t try to run the clock out with over 4 and a half minutes left when your lead is only 2 points… This is the NFL. I have seen already a few games lost because of the hyper conservative play late in the 4th. The Fins keep letting the oponents back in the game late in the 4th, because the offence starts playing as if they’re hoping the defence will stop them and the defence plays like they can’t stop anyone.

  • Lespaul

    @Iam305Jules @Henneneedstime Wow, really? If you guys like losing continue to stick with the Matt Moore bandwagon. Look at the other teams qb…..HE won the game for them. Why? Cuz he made the throws when the game was on the line. You think Moore would be a backup for a 3-8 team if he had the goods? He played so well as a starter that Carolina took Cam Newton on a wing and a prayer in in the first round. Yeah, Moore made some good throws…..he’s an NFL quarterback, he is supposed to. The difference between a winner and a loser is making that 3rd and 7 pass to a wide open Bess over the middle. Moore had time and just threw it behind Bess. That nail was all but hammered home at that point. Romo was on fire and nothing was going to stop him….another trait Moore didn’t have on Thursday. The will to win….

  • Lespaul

    @ChrisLeeuw @jimpls72 Tannehill is a big kid and can sling the ball around, but he choked in some games this year and can be erratic. Kind of another Jay Fiedler in my opinion. The dolphins should have picked up Andy Dalton when they had the chance last year. I still like the kid from Baylor and Landry Jones. Both those guys have pro arms and win games.

  • jimpls72

    @Lespaul @ChrisLeeuw
    I agree that Kellen is not that big, but he us the same size as Drew Brees and at 6′ just 2 inches shorter then Dalton. All I am saying is that he should not be overlooked and if Miami doesn’t trade their picks away for another, basically, unproven qb them they can draft some protection also, which they need to do anyway. Kellen Moore is a proven winner on college and I think whoever drafts him will have a diamond in the rough

  • Henneneedstime

    @Lespaul
    You just don’t get it do you. It is not like the phins are gonna get a QB to beat out moore

  • Henneneedstime

    @Lespaul
    You just don’t get it do you, aboard the phins gonna get to beat out more. When they hire another HC and he hires a new OC and DC the wevare looking at best two more years of mediocrity at best. Say what you want but the dolphins have been competitive in most games against a very difficult schedule. The QB has been playing well of late in a new system and only his 5 th game. So to say he doesn’t deserve a chance to start next year is ludicrous! Moore will beat out any rookie in the draft. Aside from Barkley and luck.. The phins aren’t getting either one of them.

  • Lespaul

    @Henneneedstime ok, I see what you are trying to say, but if the dolphins do not start grooming a new QB, they will not be a playoff contender. I am amazed at the bandwagon that develops after a player squeezes out a few decent games. Moore is not the answer, only the best answer they have right now. 3 wins and now he’s a superstar? If the dolphins squander a chance at a solid rookie QB only to keep their current poor mans Jay Fiedler, then they deserve everything they get.