Miami Dolphins late season fade came a little later in 2023

Jan 13, 2024; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel watches game
Jan 13, 2024; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel watches game / Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

It was all in front of them, and the team snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

In happened in the span of 14 days. The Miami Dolphins had an opportunity to become the AFC’s top seed to a 37-point loss at Baltimore. Mike McDaniel’s club went from first place in the AFC East to a wild card team, and from a playoff participant to out in the first round.

This was an 11-4 football team that was coming off a hard-fought 22-20 home victory over the Cowboys. One thing that had stood out about the 2023 Dolphins was their ability to rebound from defeat. After each of their first four setbacks this season, there was a victory. Three of the four wins had come by double digits.

This was in stark contrast to McDaniel’s first year with the club, which did feature numerous issues at quarterback in terms of injuries. The ’22 Dolphins opened 3-0, lost three straight games, won five consecutive games and then dropped their next five contests. A season-ending victory over the Jets got them into the postseason, and it was one-and-out at Buffalo.

This year looked a whole lot different for most of the season. Tua Tagovailoa remained healthy, the Dolphins’ ground game was vastly improved and wide receiver Tyreek Hill would have another All-Pro season. Even with the 56-19 loss to the Ravens, Vic Fangio’s defense finished 10th in the league in fewest total yards allowed, and seventh vs. the run.

Injuries to Fangio’s unit were a major issue over the last few weeks, most notably the loss of team sack leader Bradley Chubb. The defense was down more than half of its starter in the 26-7 playoff loss to the Chiefs. However, the Miami offense struggled mightily in its final four outings in its attempt to reach the end zone.

That 50-point victory over the Broncos in Week 3 was but a distant memory down the stretch for McDaniel’s disappointing club. From 70 points and 10 touchdowns in a 70-20 win in South Florida, to a combined 62 points and six offensive TDs in the team’s final four performances.

These Dolphins went out with a whimper, not a bang.