Dolphins Watch

November 7, 2010 9:33 PM

Hammered in Baltimore

REED.bmpIt was an ugly performance for the Dolphins Sunday, their ugliest since a Monday night special teams meltdown against the Patriots.

The Dolphins defense couldn't stop Joe Flacco or Ray Rice, and Chad Henne threw three interceptions in a 26-10 loss.

The tragedy of it was Miami had every opportunity to steal the game, yet literally let victory slip away.

Trailing 20-10 in the fourth quarter and with the Ravens driving, Sean Smith stepped in front of a Baltimore receiver and had his hands on a Flacco pass with nothing but green grass ahead of him. Instead, the ball bounced off his hands and onto the turf, and the Dolphins' last chance at a win faded.

Flacco completed 20-of-27 passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns, and Miami's linebackers never could locate Rice, who caught nine passes for 97 yards -- and made defenders miss after he had the ball in his hands.

The Dolphins didn't tackle well, and they were unable to cover any of Flacco's receivers.

Worse still, they failed to take advantage of rare Baltimore miscues. Billy Cundiff missed one field goal, and on another the hold was muffed. Otherwise, Baltimore would have put even more points up on a beleaguered Dolphins defense.

And how do you line up only 10 men on a punt return, allowing Baltimore's punter to complete a pass to a wide-open gunner to keep a drive alive?

Henne also missed a wide-open Anthony Fasano for a TD that would have cut the lead to 20-14. Instead, Miami trotted Dan Carpenter out for yet another field goal attempt, which he made.

But the biggest question was, why did the Dolphins abandon a running game that carried them to a score on their first drive?

Ronnie Brown carried the ball just nine times, but for 59 yards and a TD, averaging nearly seven yards per attempt.

Yet trailing only 13-10 in the second half, offensive coordinator Dan Henning did not try to establish the run at all -- completely out of character for a team that prides itself on being conservative. To wit, Brown carried the ball only two times the entire second half.

Brandon Marshall was again a nonfactor, and he batted one pass into the waiting arms of Ed Reed for the clinching interception.

Despite four sacks -- two more from Cameron Wake -- Miami's defense was overmatched, and the opening two wins when the defense was so dominant feel like a long time ago.

At 4-4, the Fins have lost to the four best teams in their schedule, and will not make the leap into the upper strata of the NFL until they can beat teams like Baltimore.

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