Miami Dolphins: The Dramatic Fall from the Playoff Picture

Connor McKnightSenior Analyst INovember 19, 2012

ORCHARD PARK, NY - NOVEMBER 15:  Reshad Jones #20 of the Miami Dolphins knocks the ball free from  Donald Jones #19 of the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on November 15, 2012 in Orchard Park, New York. Buffalo won 19-14. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

Three weeks ago, fans were jumping on the bandwagon. The Miami Dolphins (then 4-3, now 4-6) seemed poised to push the envelope and earn themselves a playoff spot.

Their offense was clicking. Ryan Tannehill was passing like a veteran. The running game had no problem breaking the pylon. The defensive line crushed opposing halfbacks. The secondary was still average, but had not been brutally exposed just yet.

Falling to the Indianapolis Colts (now 6-4) was rough for the Dolphins. In a hard-fought matchup that pitted rookie quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Ryan Tannehill against each other, the Stanford alum prevailed in dramatic fashion with a 23-20 win, torching the Miami secondary for 433 yards and two touchdowns with an elevated QB rating of 105.6.

And with that loss, it seemed as if the life had been sucked out of this Dolphins team. No longer did the 'Fins take the field and seem like clearly the better team. The engine had puttered out.

The loss to the Tennessee Titans (now 4-6) was really just embarrassing for Miami. The Titans had been struggling all season and were able to capitalize on four turnovers, including one returned for a pick-six. Tannehill had his worst game to date, rivaling his horrendous start to the season against the Titans. Reggie Bush was benched due to a crucial fumble that the Titans turned into a touchdowns. The Dolphins were deflated.

And that showed against the Buffalo Bills (now 4-6). The Dolphins played without a sense of urgency and by the time the offense started clicking in the fourth quarter, it was way too late. They fell 19-14 in a game where the Bills kicked four field goals, stemming from a relatively solid defensive effort from Miami.

Now, the Dolphins are no longer playoff contenders and have been re-labeled with the terrible preseason stigma of a rebuilding team. The pieces are slowly coming together, but it might be another season before the Dolphins truly contend.