Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Dolphins outplayed early, late in loss to Bucs


The Miami Dolphins failed to let their on-field play deflect any of the controversy engulfing their franchise Monday night, instead tightening the tension by losing a sloppy contest to the previously winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 22-19.

The Dolphins, now 4-5 and a game back of second place in the AFC East, overcame a 15-point first half deficit to take a third quarter lead before stagnant offensive play opened the door for the Buccaneers to re-take the lead.

A 1-yard touchdown run by Bobby Rainey put Tampa Bay up for good with just under 11 minutes left in the game.

Miami responded with two offensive drives that gained a total of 23 yards, the final of which featured two Buccaneers sacks and ended on a 4th down interception, sealing the loss.

"They played better in the fourth quarter and deserved to win," Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin told reporters after the game, via the team's website. "They played better than us coming out of the gate."

Miami's offensive ineptitude was highlighted by a historically putrid running performance. Dolphins ballcarriers combined for just two yards on 14 carries, a franchise low for yardage in a game and just the fourth time a team has totaled so few rushing yards since 1990.

"It's hard to win in the NFL if you don't have any type of balance," Philbin said.

The outcome sharpens the national focus on the Dolphins' organizational disarray, with an embarrassing primetime loss to a No.1 overall pick contender coming on a day when owner Stephen Ross said he was "appalled" at recent events and that "changes need to be made."

After a lifetime in corporate America, Ross is as image conscious as NFL owners come. The growing league-wide expectation is that few high-ranking members of the organization emerge from the Incognito-Martin scandal, and the flat on-field showing while the spotlight is on his team may have sealed a few fates.

One of the few positives that came out of Monday night was the performance of second-year wideout Rishard Matthews, who caught 11 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns playing the slot receiver position previously manned by the injured Brandon Gibson. Matthews had 10 catches for 117 yards and no touchdowns coming into the game.

Follow Sean @seanldonovan
Follow AFC East Daily @AFCEastDaily