The Miami Dolphins had reached the mid-point of their season with a 4-4 record, sitting comfortably in the AFC playoff race and capable of claiming the AFC East division crown. Unfortunately, at the end of the season, the team would be below .500 and out of the playoffs. Here's a review of the team's games 9-12.
The second half of the Dolphins' season started with them hosting the Tennessee Titans on Veterans' Day. The Week 10 contest was never a pretty one for Miami, with the Dolphins facing a 14 point deficit at the end of the first quarter. In the second period, kicker Dan Carpenter connected on a 40 yard field goal, but the Titans were able to extend the lead to 24-3. In the second half, the Titans would continue to push on the gas, ultimately scoring 13 second half points and winning the game 37-3.
Rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill's performance on the day pretty well explained the Dolphins' ineptitude, going 22-for-39 for 217 yards, with three interceptions, one returned 49 yards for a touchdown. Running back Daniel Thomas and Reggie Bush each ran for 21 yards on the day, with Thomas carrying the ball five times, while Bush saw it handed to him four times. Wide receiver Brian Hartline caught 8 passes for 79 yards. Cornerback Jimmy Wilson recorded the Dolphins' only sack on the day. In a stat you never want to see at the end of the game, punter Brandon Fields kicked the ball away six times, averaging 48.5 yards with one inside the 20. His long was 67 yards.
Four days later, the Dolphins were back on the field, traveling north to face the Buffalo Bills on Thursday Night Football. Once again, the Dolphins saw their opponents jump out to an early lead, with Buffalo scoring 13 first quarter points, compared to the Dolphins' 7 points on a 96 yard kickoff return from Marcus Thigpen. The Bills extended the lead before the half, kicking two field goals to push the advantage to 19-7. In the fourth period, the Dolphins would add a 2-yard touchdown pass from Tannehill to Davone Bess, but the game would end with the 19-14 score line after that.
Tannehill was 14-for-28 for 141 yards, with a touchdown and two picks during the game. He also was sacked three times. The strange situation of Thomas getting more carries than Bush continued this week, with Thomas going for 33 yards on 12 attempts, while Bush gained 20 yards on 10 carries. Bess led the team with six receptions and with his 50 yards, plus the one touchdown. Hartline had 49 yards on 4 receptions, but also lost a fumble. The Dolphins safeties led the team in tackles, with Reshad Jones tallying 14 and Chris Clemons adding 10. Cameron Wake, Koa Misi, and Randy Starks each recorded a sack. And, in another example of how great the quality of Thursday Night Football was all year, Field was again asked to punt six times, this time averaging 49.8 yards with two inside the 20 yard line and a long of 65, while the Buffalo Bills' punter, Shawn Powell, had to kick seven times, with a 45.3 average, five inside the 20, and a long of 56 yards.
Miami's Week 11 contest against the Seattle Seahawks had a memorable moment for the NFL, and another agonizing one for Dolphins fans. Miami started the scoring with a 21 yard touchdown run from Bush, only to see the Seahawks answer just before the period ended. Seattle would then add another touchdown in the second quarter, leading 14-7 at halftime. While the third quarter would not feature any scoring, it may be the most memorable moment of the Dolphins' season, at least for non-Miami fans. In between plays in the third quarter, the Sun Life Stadium sprinkler system suddenly turned on, later explained as a computer error, which thought it was a Saturday. The game was delayed as the irrigation system was shut off. In the fourth quarter, the Dolphins would go on a scoring spree, adding two touchdowns (Thomas, 3-yard run and tight end Charles Clay 29 yard pass from Tannehill) on either side of a Seattle touchdown. Then, the game came down to the one play Dolphins fans were not wanting to see, kicker Dan Carpenter lining up for a last second field goal. Carpenter had missed three game winning field goals already during the season, two against the New York Jets and one against the Arizona Cardinals, but he would connect from 43-yards as the clock went to double zero, and Miami beat the Seahawks 24-21.
The final game of the third quarter of Miami's season marked the first of two games against the New England Patriots this season. The Patriots would open the scoring with a first quarter touchdown, with Miami kicking a field goal at the end of the quarter. In the second period, the Patriots would score a touchdown and a field goal before the Dolphins scored on a 2-yard touchdown run from Tannehill. The 17-10 halftime score would last until the fourth quarter, when the Patriots would kick a field goal, answered by a Dolphins field goal. The two teams would trade another set of field goals before the end of the game, giving the Patriots a 23-16 victory.
Tannehill would go 13-for-29 for 186 yards on the day, while being sacked three times, while he also rushed for 19 yards on five carries, with the touchdown. Bush carried the ball 15 times for 64 yards, while Hartline caught five passes for 84 yards. Three Dolphins defenders reached double digit tackles, with linebackers Kevin Burnett (11) and Karlos Dansby (10), along with safety Reshad Jones (10) each reaching the mark. Wake recorded 1.5 sacks, while Jones and Misi each tallied one, and defensive tackle Paul Soliai added the other half sack. Miami would fumble the ball five times on the day, though they would only lose one Tannehill fumble. Jones would also pick off New England's Tom Brady.
The Dolphins went 1-3 over this four game stretch, falling to 5-7 on the year.