Dolphins vs. Jets: 5 Things We Learned from Miami's 23-20 Loss

Mario Cuadros@@mario_cuadrosContributor IISeptember 23, 2012

Dolphins vs. Jets: 5 Things We Learned from Miami's 23-20 Loss

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    The first meeting between the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets failed to disappoint. This rivalry game seems to always come down to the last play.

    The game was highlighted by sloppy play from both sides. Turnovers and penalties cost both teams points. 

    Miami proved it will be a tough team to beat this season. The Dolphins were able to run the ball well, defense played well and Tannehill showed improvement. If Dan Carpenter had hit one more field goal, Miami may have come away with the win.

    Miami gave up a lead late in the fourth quarter and failed to win it in overtime, but a lot of positives can be taken away from this game as well.

    Let's take a look at some things we learned from the Dolphins' heartbreaking loss.

Tannehill Keeps Showing Signs of Maturity

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    It wasn't the prettiest game for Ryan Tannehill. 

    He was under pressure a lot this game, his receivers dropped a few balls that were right on target and he overthrew a couple receivers that were open.

    Tannehill's biggest mistake came inside his own 10-yard line when he was picked off by LaRon Landry for a touchdown. Tannehill was trying to hit Anthony Fasano and appears that he didn't see Landry.

    Throwing a pick-six isn't the best way to start the second half, but Tannehill didn't appear rattled the rest of the game.

    He was able to bounce back to lead Miami downfield for a game-tying field goal that sent the game to overtime. 

    In overtime, Tannehill again drove the Dolphins down the field, which included a great throw to Brian Hartline for a big play. If Carpenter had made the game-winning field goal, Tannehill may have been the hero. Tannehill proved he can play in under pressure situations which shows he is really maturing from week to week.

Cameron Wake Is the League Leader in Almost-Sacks

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    Cameron Wake keeps terrorizing offensive lines. 

    He didn't have a sack this game, but he hit Mark Sanchez numerous times. He was constantly beating the right tackle around the edge and was a few inches away from sacking Sanchez.

    Wake's value on this defense doesn't necessarily show on the stat sheet, but offenses know he's there and that allows other players to run freely.

    Aside from his pass-rushing abilities, Wake is able to chase players down and never gives up on a play. This consistent tenacity that Wake plays with helps motivate the rest of the defense and intimidates opposing offenses.

    If Wake starts getting to the quarterback before he throws the ball, he will have double-digit sacks this year and possibly earn a trip to Hawaii in January.

Miami Must Win Turnover Battle

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    It is clear that if Miami wants to win games this season, it must win the turnover battle. The Jets were able to score a touchdown off an interception and were given great field position after Daniel Thomas fumbled.

    Miami only gave up one touchdown off a turnover, but it can't afford to give a better offensive team a short field or easy points.

    The Dolphins defense also had some great plays in which it came up with big interceptions. The Richard Marshall interception in the first quarter led to a Daniel Thomas touchdown and Chris Clemmons saved a touchdown after the Jets had recovered the Thomas fumble.

    If Miami can make these types of plays on defense and the offense doesn't turn the ball over, Miami will have a better chance to win games.

Too Many Penalties

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    Like I said in the introduction slide, this game was plagued with sloppy play on both sides. 

    Miami had 11 penalties that cost them a total of 65 yards. This many penalties will not help any football team win a game. The Dolphins hurt themselves with a lot of these that came in critical situations.

    Miami needs to play a cleaner game that won't allow the Dolphins to shoot themselves in the foot. Whenever teams commit penalties, they give their opponent free yards that can be prevented. 

    The replacement referees are a little quick to throw flags, but that goes for both sides. Miami must be more disciplined in order to be competitive and upset teams.

Reggie Bush's Injury Status Is Key to Miami's Season

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    It was hard seeing Reggie Bush go into the locker room with a knee injury.

    Bush has proven through the first two games that he is the feature back in this team and a top running back in the league. 

    It didn't seem that Bush's injury was that bad as he was able to walk on his own and was seen using the bike before being sent back to the locker room. 

    He had a stellar first half in which he ran for 61 yards on 10 carries. The game might have turned out differently if Bush was still in the game in the second half, but the Dolphins were able to stay competitive without him.

    Bush's injury leaves a big question mark for this Miami offense. If he misses one or two games, Miami will really miss his game-changing ability. I doubt Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller will be able to have the same impact Bush has had, but they can certainly give Miami a decent run game.

    Miami needs Bush to play every game if it wants to stay competitive and make a run for the playoffs.