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Denver Broncos at Miami Dolphins: 'Gator Day' Becomes 'Hater Day' as Dolphins Lose in Overtime

This play made Jon Gruden's head explode.
This play made Jon Gruden's head explode.

Welcome back, Dolphins fans, to the game "Enabling Tim Tebow," where your team management does everything imaginable to make Florida's favorite son feel as comfortable as humanly possible while playing against the Dolphins. Nothing says "home field advantage" like an ocean of No.15 Denver Broncos jerseys in the crowd at a Dolphins game, and nothing says "NFL doormat" like letting Tebow bounce back from an absolutely pathetic first-half performance (3-5 with 24 yards passing(!) and 0-5 on third-down conversions) to skewer Miami with 18 unanswered points in the fourth quarter and overtime (en route to an 18-15 Broncos victory). Even the '76 Bucs and '08 Lions would've bowed down to what the Dolphins did on the field yesterday afternoon.

Bad teams will always find a way to lose, but when you're a truly awful squad, you can't help but offer up a smorgasbord of opportunities for the other team to get back into the game. How else can you explain the Dolphins pounding Tebow into oblivion for three quarters, and then allowing him to run all over the field during the fourth quarter like he's Roger Staubach circa 1971. How else can you explain Tony Sparano's decision to go for the two-point conversion after a touchdown put the Dolphins up 12-0 in the third quarter (a decision that ultimately cost Miami the game)? How else can you explain the Dolphins' defense dominating for the most of the game before donning flak jackets for the Broncos' last two offensive possessions of the fourth quarter? 

The answer is simple: the Miami Dolphins have once again adopted the identity of a loser, and absolutely look like a team simply going through the motions right now. Sure, the Dolphins can keep the score close during games, but this team just doesn't have the coaching or personnel a team needs in order to get game-winning touchdowns or key defensive stops in the fourth quarter. Let's put it this way: in a Week 7 where the Colts lost 62-7, the Dolphins managed to have the most embarrassing loss of the entire day.


Sparano answers his critics with, well, more of the same

They say a football team eventually takes on the personality of its head coach. If that's the case, then Tony Sparano must A) Really, really hate the "Suck for Luck" campaign, B) Hate the red zone even more, and C) Have absolutely no interest in playing four quarters of football each week. Even when Anthony Fasano actually managed to break the plane in the third quarter (the first touchdown scored by the Dolphins since Oct. 2, by the way), it felt like Miami was just delaying the inevitable ... or making things more interesting. Turns out it was the former option, confirmed by Sparano's boneheaded decision to go for two following Fasano's touchdown grab. The two-point attempt failed (of course), and the Dolphins walked away from the scoring drive with a 12-point lead. A Dan Carpenter field goal pushed the lead to 15, which is when the fourth-quarter enigma known as "Tebow Time" reared its ugly head. From that point on, the Dolphins' defense played like it had soiled itself, and Tebow ran and passed all over Miami like he was playing with kids in one of those NFL "Play 60" commercials. Unbelievable. And to really rub salt in the wound,  the Dolphins managed to flush a quality Matt Moore start down the toilet (believe me, you're not going to get 22/33, 197 yards passing out of that guy too often).

"Suck for Luck" lives to see another day

You know it's bad when even the guys calling the game are criticizing what they perceive to be a tanking mentality amongst Dolphins fans. But the reality is that, when you're a fan of a team this bad, you should have the right to go about your "fandom" any way you choose. If you want to see the Dolphins win a couple of games and screw themselves out of a blue-chip quarterback prospect, that's your right. If you want to see the Dolphins fall flat on their face and land the right to draft Andrew Luck, that's your right. If you're apathetic and just don't care about this season, that's your right. And that's the beauty of being a fan of a professional sports team: you can root for them however you like. Me? I think this season has been about as attractive as the contestants from season two of Flavor of Love (a cast that still haunts my dreams), and while I absolutely hate seeing the Dolphins lose, I am firmly against seeing this current regime get rewarded for the ego and sheer ineptitude they've exhibited time and time again during the last four seasons. I want this regime gone for one very simple reason: I'd like to see this team win the Super Bowl in my lifetime, and now that it's painfully obvious that there will be no Super Bowl as long as Tony Sparano is coaching the Miami Dolphins, I have no interest in seeing him succeed.

Whether you like it or not, we're still firmly entrenched in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes, and now that the Dolphins have lost the two most winnable match-ups on its schedule (Cleveland and Denver), the Luck talk will likely become more and more relentless over the next two months. Of course, it's going to be hard to beat out the Colts and Rams--who both took beatings yesterday at the hands of the Saints and Cowboys, respectively--for the right to draft Andrew Luck. Turns out, hitting rock bottom can be a competitive thing in the NFL.

Tebow adds a chapter to his legacy at Dolphins' expense

Let's give credit where it's due here. Tim Tebow played masterfully in the fourth quarter against the Dolphins, consistently converting third downs and displaying impressive accuracy by throwing through a couple of vapor-lock-tight passing windows. He also got some help from wide receiver Demaryius Thomas and tight end Daniel Fells (the latter with a jaw-dropping catch that led to a touchdown and game-tying two-point conversion). but make no mistake that this victory was all about Tebow completely taking advantage of the Dolphins' horrid fourth quarter defense. I actually thought Kevin Burnett's jock would burst into flames after Tebow ruthlessly juked him and picked up a huge gain, and our secondary looked like it wanted no part of Tebow whenever he tucked the ball and headed upfield. The Dolphins had this guy looking like a mere mortal in the first half, and an absolute God during Denver's final two offensive possessions. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2011 Miami Dolphins!

Random thoughts ...

-I think this current regime has successfully completed the Dolphins' transformation into the Michael Keaton of the NFL: great for a time, but currently only good for garbage that no one is interested in seeing (Herbie: Fully Loaded, Post Grad, etc.). Is there a way we can get back to the Batman era?

-So let's see ... It's Week 7, and Miam's defensive line just registered its first sack. If there was a panic button, it would've been mashed to powder by now.

-We just officially jumped into the 0-16 crosshairs yesterday. Hooray.

-Is there any chance I can get Sparano's sweet Dolphins windbreaker before he gets the boot? As much as I can't stand the guy, I love that jacket.

-Daniel Thomas with another decent performance against a defense that had zero respect for our passing game. He gets plenty of hate here, but I think DT33 is the real deal.

As a final note, If Andrew Luck does indeed give us the Elway/Eli/Bo Jackson treatment (though Bo spurned the Bucs to play baseball), I am so very okay with trading his rights for a lifetime's worth of high draft picks. Think three 1s, two 2s, a 3 and 4, and then imagine what we could do with that kind of potential firepower: finish building our offensive line (left guard and right tackle), add a play-maker safety to our retirement-home-caliber secondary, draft a money tight end, find a big-time receiver and think about sending Marshall to the instant contender he covets (perhaps for another pick. Ka-ching), draft a young linebacker to build around, etc. The possibilities (and needs) are endless at this point.