This was bad. This was unexpected. This was saving the worst for last, the Dolphins never really in it, losing to the Buffalo Bills in a manner few could have envisioned. This was realistically over early. And now, so is the season, the Dolphins becoming the odd team out in what was left of the playoff contenders.
The only good news to come out of this Sunday came in Tennessee’s victory over Houston, assuring the Dolphins the No. 3 pick in April’s draft. But that felt somewhat hollow in the wake of Sunday’s 56-26 loss.
I know it’s easy to pinpoint the blame on Tua Tagovailoa because he’s the quarterback and he’s the one so much was expected of. But this was a complete collapse. The defense, except for a couple of turnovers, played awful. The special teams gave up a long punt return. The offense put on a lowlight reel of dropped passes – 11 at first count — and missed chances.
No doubt Tua was part of the disappointment, failing to make a difference, forcing ill-advised throws and missing some open receivers. His receivers didn’t help much with all those drops. Neither did his running backs. I have said all season that this is a team in dire need of elite playmakers on offense and this void was evident throughout this forgettable Sunday in upstate New York.
I’ve seen many seasons end in Buffalo in a similar fashion. This one was as hard to take as any. I mean to play this way in a game this important is difficult to digest on so many fronts. The season had been so much fun – until Sunday.
No, it doesn’t wipe away all of the good, nor does it change the fact that this 10-win season was a success, but it is a punch in the gut for all those who believed this team simply couldn’t play this badly.
On another day we’ll think about what the No. 3 overall pick means. On another day, we’ll talk about how the needs are far fewer than they have been in a long time. But that’s for another day. For today, for right now, the disappointment can’t be hidden beneath a promising future.
The Dolphins had a chance to make this season special – playoff special — and instead they must accept this brutal ending and live with it. It’s a shame because this wasn’t the team we saw through 15 games, but this is the game we’ll take with us into the offseason.