The Miami Dolphins loss to the Denver Broncos last Sunday, a matchup of big brother versus kid brother who's growing up fast, was tough to swallow.
While it's unfortunate that the Dolphins lost another game on late fourth quarter touchdown allowed by the defense, and this particular instance may have been the worst as Miami's defense allowed 22 fourth quarter points, there are plenty of reasons for optimism following the loss.
Other than the fact that Miami played a perennial Super Bowl contender to the point that an onside kick decided the game, there are a few key reasons for hope heading into Monday's game against the New York Jets:
The Dolphins are 2-0 in the games following last-second losses to the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions with point margins of 16 (against the Chicago Bears following loss to Packers) and 13 points (versus Buffalo Bills after loss to Lions). The Dolphins defense allowed only 23 combined points in these two games and forced three turnovers.
Miami's defense has allowed less than 300 yards of offense only three times this season. Two of those performances came in the games following their first two late fourth quarter losses (and the other came against the San Diego Chargers following a questionable defensive performance versus the Jacksonville Jaguars).
The Dolphin defense has allowed five games of over 100 yards rushing. Their record is 1-4 in these games (the one victory coming against the Jaguars). The only team to not rush for over 100 yards and produce a victory against the Dolphins are the Bears.
Miami's average rush yards given up in the games following those poor trench performances? 82 (with a 174-yard performance from the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3 raising the average significantly).
So what does this all mean?
The Dolphins are very good at refocusing after tough losses, especially after defensive lapses.
Miami's front will need to be ready to perform Monday after allowing 201 rushing yards to the Broncos. And the patterns of the 2014 season have shown that they will be more than up to the task.
The Jets, who have switched back to Geno Smith at quarterback, will lean on their running game when these teams meet. If Miami's defense doesn't tighten the issues from last week, mainly trench play and tackling, then this Monday will present an interesting challenge.
Rex Ryan proclaims that the Dolphins will not be facing a typical two-win team when these teams meet Monday. While I believe that Ryan will have his troops ready for battle, these Dolphins will be angry, hungry and determined to show the world that last Sunday was not only a fluke, but should have been a victory for Miami.