The Miami Dolphins lost to the New England Patriots on Sunday, dropping the game 23-16. Throughout the day, the Dolphins had repeated chances to change the outcome of the game, but continually let mistakes set them back. Unfortunately, Miami is not at the level yet to be able to overcome repeated setbacks.
The day opened with the Dolphins receiving the opening kickoff, but could not get the offense in rhythm and went three and out. As Brandon Fields attempted to punt the ball to the Patriots, he dropped the snap, bobbled the ball off the ground, picked it up and tried to run. The Patriots brought him down at the 12-yard line, and took over on downs right there. Five plays later, New England was out to a 7-0 lead.
And, that was just the beginning.
Later in the game, safety Jimmy Wilson came in on a punt block attempt, only to be called for a 15-yard roughing the kicker penalty. Getting the ball back due to the penalty, New England would drive down the field and score their second touchdown.
"I'm sick about that," Wilson said after the game. "We had them dialed up, something we'd been practicing all week."
On the Dolphins' next possession after that touchdown, the issues would continue. On 3rd-and-4 at the team's 26 yard line, Ryan Tannehill would be sacked and fumble. New England defensive tackle Vince Wilfork would pick up the ball, and four plays later, the Patriots would kick a field goal. Every one of New England's 17 first half points came directly off a mistake by the Dolphins.
Add in a negated Miami interception return touchdown, when an illegal block penalty negated the score. Dan Carpenter would hit one of his three field goals seven plays later. Ultimately, the Dolphins' own mistakes resulted in a 21 point swing, with Miami never able to make up the difference.
"It definitely hurt. It could have helped us do what we needed to do and close out the game," Jones explained after the game. "It was pretty much a snapshot of the entire game being so close, but [we] still didn't do enough to get the win."
The Dolphins would rack up a total of eight penalties for 90 yards on the day.
"We just didn't hit the shots that were there," rookie quarterback Tannehill told the media. "I'm still kicking myself."
Miami fumbled the ball four times yesterday, with Daniel Thomas and Jorvorskie Lane adding to Tannehill and Fields. Tannehill's would be the only Miami turnover on the day, but the other times the ball hit the ground only made it more difficult for Miami.
"We can't make excuses; we made too many mistakes," Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said during his post game press conference. "They made plays when they had to. It was a team loss.
"To beat a good opponent in December, you have to play better."
The Dolphins still have four December games, including next week at the San Francisco 49ers and a season finale rematch at the Patriots. Miami has to find a way to fix these mistakes if they want to continue to play meaningful, and winning, December football.