Dolphins Turnovers May Keep Miami Home at Season's End

Ryan M. ReidContributor IDecember 21, 2009

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 20: Chad Henne #7 of the Miami Dolphins looks to pass the football against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on December 20, 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans defeated the Dolphins 27-24 in overtime. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Mathematically, the Miami Dolphins are still in the hunt for one of the remaining wild card spots in the AFC.

Logically, the team is much further away.

The team had an opportunity to separate itself from the rest of the field by defeating the Tennessee Titans this past Sunday.

The Fins fell behind early, and though they put up a valiant effort, they were not able to overcome the slow start.

The concern for the Dolphins is turnovers. Chad Pennington's replacement, Chad Henne, has played well this season, but his 12 interceptions this season have helped to dent Miami's playoff hopes.

Last season, the team was No. 1 in the league with a +17 turnover ratio and posted an 11-5 record. This season, the team is -7 and now stands at an even 7-7 record.

The problem with the turnovers has not gone unnoticed by the coaching staff or the Miami players. After Sunday's loss in Tennessee, coach Tony Sparano used one word to describe his team's turnover ratio: ridiculous.

"Looking at it right now, we're about 10 more interceptions and 10 more fumbles more right now than we were last year at this time," he said. "That's not good football. That isn't winning football."

The good news for the Dolphins is that their final two games will be held at Land Shark Stadium, where they will host the Houston Texans and Pittsburgh Steelers, both 7-7 and in the hunt for the AFC playoffs.

If the Dolphins do not make the playoffs, they will have to look back at missed opportunities by not finishing games. Miami let games against the Colts, Saints, Bills, and Titans slip away in the fourth quarter.

Not all is negative for the Dolphins this season.

Starting two rookie cornerbacks has not been too much of a weak spot for the defense, as both Vontae Davis and Sean Smith have played very well thus far.

The Dolphins have put together a very good pass rush, sacking opposing quarterbacks 40 times, which is tied with Pittsburgh for second in the league.

Also, the offensive line has played exceptionally well facing injuries and also sustaining their strengths during long drives that include a lot of running the ball.

The Dolphins feel as if they have found their quarterback of the future in Henne, but thus far he has showed more glimpses of Brett Favre rather than Dan Marino.

Miami has a tough road ahead in order for them to reach the playoffs for the second year in a row.

"The message to the team this week is: the way I know it, we're still in this race," said Sparano. "Best chance we have is we have to win two football games. We won two football games a couple times before, so we'll worry about one football game right now. We have a chance to play at home, we still have a pulse, we're still in this race, so we'll prepare that way."