Not once, not twice, but three times Miami had an opportunity to stop the Carolina Panthers on the final game winning drive. Instead, they watched their fate run from their hands and put any hopes of the playoffs on the shoulders of other teams.
The Dolphins played a very tough Panther football team and for Miami they opened the first half with as much if not more fight. As has been a common theme this season the Dolphins opened up a lead in the first half but failed to put the opposition away in the second. Carolina ran off 17 unanswered points from the end of the 1st half to the end of the game.
Miami was set perfectly for a run at the playoffs when the Jets lost to Baltimore while Miami still held a lead. A win put Miami in the sixth seed all by themselves with a date against New York next weekend. Instead of being in the playoffs, had they started today, Miami dropped from 6th to 11th. Behind San Diego and Baltimore as well as Tennessee who owns the 6th spot now and New York.
Next weeks Jets game will take on a playoff feel for both teams as the loser will all but mathematically be eliminated. Any chance Miami had to win the division practically disappeared with today’s loss.
Once again Miami fans are left with nothing but questions after half-time adjustments led to far more conservative play calling and a defensive scheme that once again gave up big plays on third down.
As has been a constant theme with Miami’ losses, Caleb Sturgis once again missed a critical FG that could have changed the way Carolina played on the final drive.
The one positive was Ryan Tannehill’s connection with Mike Wallace deep. Tannehill targeted Wallace four times deep connecting on two albeit with under thrown passes, one over thrown pass with Wallace about seven yards in front of the coverage, and the second to last play of the game that Wallace dropped on the one yard line for what would have been the winning touchdown.
While Miami played far better than they have recently they still failed to play a complete game which has been the teams Achilles heal. While the Dolphins are 5-6 and among the teams vying for that final playoff seed fans are quick to point out that Miami easily could have had control of the entire division.
Miami has lost in the waning moments to Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Buffalo, and gave up a huge lead to New England. All four games should have been victories. Conversely the Dolphins five victories haven’t exactly been barn burners. The Dolphins, who could easily be 10 – 1 right now, just as easily could be 1-10. The Dolphins only clear victory was in week 1 against the Browns. They won by four to the Colts and Falcons, by two to the Bengals, and four again to the Chargers.
Miami has five games left on their schedule. Two against the Jets, one against Pittsburgh, Buffalo, and New England. They can only hope they find a way to win and the rest of the teams in front of them find a way to lose.