MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Many Miami Dolphins players spent part of the last week talking about how the scandal that has enveloped the team would help galvanize the team and get them to play better starting against winless Tampa Bay.
Then the Dolphins took the field Monday night against the Buccaneers and at times were completely blown off the field by a Bucs team that hadn’t tasted victory, until Miami came to town.
The Dolphins have been dealing with the fallout of the Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin saga for more than a week, but the Fins were not ready to play at the beginning of the game. Miami’s once tough defense allowed Tampa to score a touchdown on the opening drive for the first time this season.
But it’s the Dolphins’ offense, which hasn’t been explosive since Dan Marino walked off the field in the late 1990’s, that completely underperformed again against the Buccaneers. Much of the problem came from a combination of poor run blocking, and poor pas protection.
The Dolphins, as a team, ran the ball 14 times against the Buccaneers and gained 2 yards. Four players ran the ball, including quarterback Ryan Tannehill, tight end Charles Clay, and running backs Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas, and they gained a total of 2 yards.
Put another way, the Fins’ rushing game averaged, 0.14 yards per carry against Tampa Bay last night.
That’s the fewest yards allowed or gained in the NFL in several years and continues a disturbing trend of the Dolphins not being able to move the football at all on the ground. This season, the Dolphins rank 30th in rushing attempts, 25th in rushing yards gained, and has just six rushing touchdowns on the season.
The Buccaneers, which lost its starting running back last week and lost its starting running back against the Fins in the first quarter, still ran the ball 37 times for 140 yards and a touchdown against a defense that was supposed to solid along the defensive line.
The Dolphins’ offensive line was marginally better in pass protection, but when it mattered most in the fourth quarter; the offensive line completely collapsed. The Fins had gone roughly 58 minutes without giving up a sack of quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
But when Miami got the ball back late in the fourth quarter and down by three points, the offensive line played offensively. With two minutes to go in the game, Ryan Tannehill was sacked by two Bucs players. After a timeout, Tannehill dropped back to pass and was again sacked, this time by defensive tackle Gerald McCoy.
On third down and 28, Tannehill threw for Rishard Matthews and the pass was broken up. Finally on fourth down and 28, Tannehill just threw the ball up for grabs towards Mike Wallace and the expensive free agent receiver watched as Bucs defensive back Darrelle Revis leaped for an interception.
“It’s tough, but the more and more adversity hits you in the face, the more you have to step up and face it,” Tannehill CBS4 news partner the Miami Herald. “[But] we can’t keep dropping games.”
Believe it or not though, the Dolphins are not out of the playoff hunt, but the loss makes things increasingly difficult. The Dolphins, along with around five other teams in the AFC, are battling for one wild card spot. The Jets lead the group at 5-4, but Miami is just one game behind New York.
While all has not been lost for the Dolphins, another loss could prove devastating to the Dolphins in 2013. Miami comes back to Sun Life Stadium on Sunday to begin a two-game home stand against the San Diego Charges and Carolina Panthers over the next two weeks.