Miami Dolphins Inability to Close out Tight Games Proves Costly in 2012

Matt SchreiberAnalyst IIIDecember 19, 2012

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - NOVEMBER 25:  Quarterback Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Miami Dolphins throws against the Seattle Seahawks at Sun Life Stadium on November 25, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

After a horrific preseason, the Miami Dolphins were predicted to finish last in the AFC East and even last in the league by a few analysts. Through 14 games, they sit at 6-8 and are a long shot to make it to the playoffs.

The Dolphins could have easily started the season 7-1. Dan Carpenter missed a field goal in overtime in Week 3 against the New York Jets that would have won the game. The Jets would eventually go on to secure the victory.

A week later, all Miami needed to do was stop the Arizona Cardinals on a 4th-and-12 and the game would've been over. Instead, the defense surrendered a touchdown on that play, leading the game into overtime where the Cardinals would eventually come away victorious.

After winning their next three games, Ryan Tannehill was out-dueled by Andrew Luck at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, and the Dolphins lost to the Colts 23-20.

Crazier things have happened, but if the next two weeks are similar to how 2012 has been going for Miami so far, luck won't be on their side. Had the Dolphins been able to finish out close games early on in the season, there is a great chance they wouldn't be looking for outside help to get them into the playoffs.

Beating Buffalo at home shouldn't be an issue. New England, however, will likely be fighting for a first-round bye in the playoffs in their Week 17 matchup, so the chances of them winning in Foxboro are not looking good.  

It comes as a surprise to many that the Dolphins have even won six games this year with the lack of professional experience many of their players have. It's that same lack of experience that is holding them back from being 9-5 right now, as opposed to 6-8.

Ryan Tannehill has been getting better and more efficient from week to week, but you can clearly tell he needs more experience and some taller wide receivers to throw the ball to. Maybe if the Dolphins try and make a run at Dwayne Bowe in the offseason, we will see more confidence from Tannehill. If only USC's Marquis Lee was eligible to enter the draft this year, things could be looking brighter for the Fins.

Like I said, the Dolphins need a lot of outside help aside from winning their last two games to get them into the playoffs this year. Let's take a look at what miracle(s) needs to happen:

Cincinnati Bengals (8-6) - @PIT, BAL

With games against two teams the Bengals have not been able to beat in recent years, it is very likely they do lose out and finish 8-8. The Dolphins beat the Bengals back in Week 5 so they hold the tiebreaker over them.

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7) - CIN, CLE

Obviously, Pittsburgh needs to win this weekend against the Bengals and lose to the Browns at home in Week 17. That just doesn't seem too likely to happen. 

New York Jets (6-8) - SD, @BUF

The Jets hold the tiebreaker over the Dolphins. If the Jets lose any of their final two games and the Dolphins win out, the Jets won't be a factor.

The Jets are eliminated from playoff contention as is, but if Miami, New York, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati all finish 8-8, the Jets hold the tiebreaker over the Dolphins, leaving the final playoff spot in the hands of the Steelers who would hold the tiebreaker over the Jets and Bengals.

So, all in all, the Dolphins need to win out, the Bengals need to lose out, the Steelers need to lose to the Browns at home, and the Jets need to lose one of two games, and the Dolphins are in the playoffs.

The Dolphins need a miracle. But hey, it is Christmas time and that sort of thing does tend to happen this time of year.

It is very unfortunate this had to turn out this way, but Miami only has itself to blame.