Sunday, November 24, 2013

Dolphins' late-game offense continues to flounder


The Miami Dolphins had the favored Carolina Panthers firmly on the ropes for most of Sunday's game. Unfortunately, the Dolphins lacked the punch to deal a killing blow, and the Panthers overcame a 13-point deficit to win, 20-16.

After riding dominant defensive play and an explosive deep passing attack to a 16-3 first half lead, Miami's offense failed to score a point in the second half and an overburdened defense allowed Cam Newton and Carolina's offense to inch back into the game.

Newton connected with tight end Greg Olsen on a 1-yard touchdown pass with 43 seconds remaining to seal the comeback victory.

But this loss falls squarely on the shoulders an offense that floundered once again late in a game, led by quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The Dolphins have not scored an offensive touchdown in the fourth quarter in any of their past seven games.

"We were a couple of plays from winning the game," Tannehill said, according to the team's website. "We need to be a complete team for four quarters, not a half."

As it has much of the season, the Dolphins' ability to sustain drives was hampered by an ineffective running game, with tailbacks Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller combining for 16 yards on 13 carries. Tannehill led the team in rushing with 36 yards on four scrambles.

Miami had at least one negative play on each of its five second-half possessions, frequently putting the offense in unfavorable down-and-distance situations. Once there, the top-ranked Carolina defense was able to focus on stopping the pass and pressuring the quarterback.

"We got behind the chains a lot in the second half," Tannehill added. "We had chances [to put the game away], we just didn’t do it."

A lot of credit is due to the Panthers, whose halftime adjustments effectively countered both Miami's defensive domination and effective passing attack. The Dolphins built their lead on long completions from Tannehill to Mike Wallace, one going for 57 yards and another for 53 yards and a touchdown.

Tannehill finished 28-of-42 passing for 310 yards with a touchdown and an interception in the losing effort. Defensive ends Olivier Vernon and Dion Jordan, who recorded a sack apiece, were among the top performers on the defensive side of the ball.

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