For the first 29 min and 55 seconds of this game, myself and many other Dolphin fans felt like we were on top of the world. We had come out and just flat out outplayed the undefeated Saints to the tone of 24-3. Now we had just stopped a last ditch effort by the Saints to get back in the game, and were going to have to settle for a FG before half. Then Tony Sporano decides to call TO because we couldn't decide which defensive package to send out on the field, even though the Saints had already sent out the FG unit. While I don't believe this was the true turning point in the game, it definitely had the Saints going into halftime with all the momentum. Needless to say, we came out flat in the second half and it showed. The result, a disappointing 46-34 loss that was very winnable. So here are my top 5 reasons of why we lost the game, and the 5 reasons why we should have won.
Why We Lost
1. Defense, defense, defense: Yes, the defense put together one hell of a game for the first 28 min of the game. We got consistent pressure on Brees. Our secondary was playing physical with the Saints wideouts. We were even getting some turnovers. But in the final 32 min of the game, our defense was clueless against the Saints offense. Missed tackles and blown coverages resulted in 23 points in the second half. Even our run defense, which had held the Saints to 25 yards in the first half, got gashed for 113 in the second half. Luckily for us, now that Will Allen is gone for the season, we only have 4 games against vaunted passing offenses the rest of the season (NEx2, HOU, and PIT).
2. Dan Henning: The reason I'm putting Henning on here is because of the very bad play calling we showed from the end of the half on. It's like this guy has no real clue on how to make adjustments when things aren't working. The Wildcat was not working, especially running to the outside, but we kept right on doing it for loss after loss. Meanwhile, running out of the base formation to the outside was highly effective, yet we stopped doing it. Hell, we stopped running all together once the Saints got to within 7 points. It was if Henning went into panic mode and thought we were down 14 points. Does Dan Henning even watch the games? News flash! Pat White's only worthwhile play (by that I mean it gained more than 1 yard) all regular season was from the spread formation on a QB draw. Why do you keep trying to run the option with him?!?!?!?!?!?
3. Our WR's: There wasn't a receiver on the field that didn't make at least one mistake costing us (and I'm including TEs as well). Dropped passes, fumbles, running the wrong routes, and running bad routes. You name it, they did it. I would not be suprised by major changes to the receiving corps next year. Honestly, I think they gotta give Turner a chance to play. He can't be any worse than what we're putting on the field now. His big body is just too valuable to be wasted by warming the bench.
4. Ted Ginn: I know I just listed the WR's as a whole as number 3, but I felt Teddy deserved one all by himself. After almost 2 and a half years, I'm officially stating this to be fact. Ted Ginn Jr. is a first round bust. He can't return kickoffs, he can't return punts, he can't get open, and when he does, there better be no one around him or else he'll drop it. The guy is averaging 35 rec yds a game this season, and 37 for his career. And don't give me excuses about his size. Devin Hester is the same size, playing his first full season as a starting WR and he's playing better than Ginn.
5. The Replay Booth: Sure we got the benefit of the doubt on the first series of the game, but it had no impact on the game. The play I'm referring to is what I feel was the turning point in the game. Sharper's INT return for a TD. I'm pretty sure the replay booth gets to look at the same reviews the commentators get to look at, and from what I saw, he lost the ball before he got into the end zone. Which would have resulted in a touchback, and Miami ball on the 20 yd line. Instead, it cuts the Dolphins lead in half, Dan Henning goes into panic mode, we abandon the running game, and, well, you know the rest.
Why We Should Have Won:
1. Defense, defense, defense: 5 sacks, 3 INTs, 2 forced fumbles. Not sure who else saw this little factoid during the telecast. The Saints record when Brees throws 2 INTs+ before the Dolphins game: 1-13.
2. Ricky Williams: This guy was playing lights out all game. 9 for 80 with 3 TDs. So what's the problem? Why did he only run it 9 times?!?!?!?!?!?!?
3. Our #1 Ranked Rushing Attack: We had over 100 yards rushing in the first half. I know some people wouldn't have liked us playing so conservatively, but when you're up 24-10, and even earlier up 24-3. We are not a quick strike offense used to having big leads. When we get them, they come few and far between, so we have to cherish them and protect them the way we know how.
4. Jason Taylor: He was playing like it was 2006. Could the Dolphins take the Comeback Player of the Year Award twice in a row? Taylor had 2 sacks and 2 forced fumbles, proving he's still got something in the tank.
5. Our Coaching Staff: Why are they on here after I blasted them as reasons we lost? Because this is the same coaching staff we all have bemoaned for being too conservative, and playing not to lose. But now, when they should have played more conservatively, they decide to finally attack and try winning a shoot out with the #1 offense in the league in yards and points?!?!??!?!?!? If this coaching staff sticks to what it knows, and pounds the rock over and over again in the second half as they like to preach is what we're all about. I guarantee you, we would have won the game.