By Abraham Gutierrez

“Close, but no cigar” would be the best way to describe the Miami Dolphins’ efforts Sunday night in the Mile High City. After getting the best of the defending AFC Champions through three quarters, Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos’ offense put the game out of reach with a 22-point outburst in the final stanza. 

The end result is a 39-36 defeat that will linger in the minds of Joe Philbin and company all the way back to South Florida. The Dolphins now move to 6-5-0 on the year, which is good enough for second place in the AFC East, while the Broncos improve to 8-3-0 as they sit atop the AFC West. 

Going up against one of the best offenses in the league, Miami did a great job of keeping things close through the opening three quarters. However, the floodgates opened up in the final stanza, tilting offensive and defensive statistic in Denver’s favor. 

Miami Dolphins Offense: B+ 

The Fins offense finished the day with 23 first downs, 313 yards of offense, 25 minutes and 43 seconds in the time of possession department, 4-for-8 on third downs, 97 rushing yards and 216 passing yards. The problem is that Manning and the Broncos outperformed them in every statistical category, especially after the break. 

Miami’s offensive team leaders include: Running backs Lamar Miller (12 carries, 59 yards) and Daniel Thomas (3 carries, 19, yards, TD), as well as wide receivers Jarvis Landry (7 receptions, 50 yards, 2 TDs), Brandon Gibson (5 receptions, 42 yards), Brian Hartline (2 receptions, 39 yards) and Mike Wallace (4 receptions, 35 yards, TD). 

Miami Dolphins Quarterback: A- 

If Ryan Tannehill was in any way intimidated about matching up with arguably the greatest quarterback in the history of the National Football League he never showed it. The ever improving signal-caller certainly did his job of keeping the Fins in the game, despite going up against one of the most explosive offenses in the league. 

Completing 72 percent of his passes, Tannehill connected on 26-of-36 for 228 yards, three touchdowns and a pick for a very respectable quarterback rating of 104.9. He also was the team’s third-leading rusher, tallying 15 yards on 4 carries and a score, as he continues to display good wheels. 

Miami Dolphins Defense: C+ 

Unfortunately for the Dolphins defense, they ran into a Denver team determined to bounce back after an anemic effort last week against the St. Louis Rams. Clicking on all cylinders, the Broncos chose an opportune time to have their most balanced offensive production of the season, and statistics tell a very compelling story. 

Peyton Manning (28/35, 257 yards, 4 TDs, 135.4 QBR) and the offense closed out Week 12 of the 2014 NFL season with the following eye-popping numbers: 27 first downs, 450 total yards, 34 minutes and 17 seconds in the time of possession battle, converted 8-for-12 on third downs, torched the Fins defense to the tune of 201 rushing yards and 249 aerial yards. 

Miami Dolphins Special Teams: A+ 

In a game in which the Dolphins and Broncos combined to score 75 points, there were only three punts and no field goals attempted by Miami’s special teams unit. Brandon Fields played up to his Pro Bowl status, punting it away three times for an average of 53.3 yards, including a well-placed punt inside the Broncos’ 20-yard line. 

For more Dolphins news and updates, visit Dolphins Central.

Abe Gutierrez is a criminal justice admin whose love for sports led him to become a writer and editor. His expertise make him a valued addition to Examiner.com and its partners. His work can be found on Examiner.com. .

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