MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) — It’s been a very up-and-down year for the Miami Dolphins, though the team is hoping that things are finally beginning to come together.
The Dolphins have lost this year to Blake Bortles, to Ryan Fitzpatrick, and twice to Tyrod Taylor, so maybe they should be relieved not to face Branden Weeden or Matt Cassel.
Except they’re getting Tony Romo instead.
Rested but rusty, Romo is expected to start Sunday after missing the last seven games, all losses for the Dallas Cowboys.
While Romo’s absence with a collarbone injury sent the Cowboys (2-7) to the NFC East cellar, the Dolphins (4-5) are last in the AFC East, partly because of a defense that has struggled even against middling QBs.
“Every quarterback plays his best against us,” cornerback Brice McCain said. “That’s just how it goes.”
Here are things to know about the matchup between the least of the Easts:
ROMO RETURNS: Since Week 2 of 2014, the Cowboys are 15-3 when Romo starts and 0-8 when he doesn’t. That gives them hope they can still be a factor in the playoff race, especially with every team in the NFC East at .500 or below.
“No one thought we’d be in this position and, you know, we are,” Romo said. “We just have very little room for error.”
Dallas went 0-3 with Weeden, who was cut this week and was claimed by the Houston Texans. Cassel replaced Weeden and went 0-4.
With Romo back, coach Jason Garrett said the Cowboys don’t need for him to be Superman. Romo said he won’t try.
“Usually you just do your job, if you do it well enough, that will take care of the things that come with this game,” Romo said. “For me, it’s about going out and being yourself.”
Romo being himself could be bad for the Dolphins. Despite the many so-so passers they’ve faced, they’re allowing 12.6 yards per completion, fifth worst in the NFL.
And the quarterback competition becomes stiffer in the final seven games, when Miami is likely to face Romo, Tom Brady, Joe Flacco, Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Andrew Luck.
REMATCH: Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh will play against the Cowboys for the first time since January, when he and the Detroit Lions lost to Dallas in a wild-card playoff game.
“I haven’t really looked too much back to that game,” Suh said. “It’s over and done with.”
Last week at Philadelphia, Suh had his best game since signing a $114 million, six-year contract with Miami. He totaled a sack, eight tackles, three tackles for a loss and three quarterback hurries, and the Dolphins allowed only 2.3 yards per rush.
“About the time you think that’s one of the best games you’ve ever seen a defensive tackle play, then he does something even better the next week,” Miami interim coach Dan Campbell said.
Suh will likely go head to head with Cowboys 2014 All-Pro guard Zack Martin.
DOLPHINS IN MIAMI: The Dolphins will play at home for the first time since Oct. 25, and the second time since Sept. 27.
It’s the first time since the 1970 NFL merger that a team had only two games scheduled in its stadium in the first 10 weeks of the season, according to STATS.
WITTEN: The Dolphins have had trouble with tight ends all year and were burned last week by the Eagles’ Brent Celek for 134 yards on four catches. Now they must deal with Jason Witten, who leads the Cowboys with 49 catches and needs eight more to reach the 1,000 career milestone.
“There have been a lot of great players who come through the Dallas Cowboy organization over the years,” Garrett said. “He ranks among the best of them that I’ve ever been around. And he’s arguably as good a guy as I’ve ever been around, as good a teammate as I’ve ever been around.”
SAFETY STREAK: When the Dolphins are backed up deep in their territory, they might want to try a quick kick. They’ve given up a safety in each of the past three games, the longest such streak since 1980, according to STATS.
Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor managed to smile regarding the subject.
“We’re looking to start a streak this week of consecutive games without a safety,” he said.
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