Chasing the Thirtysomething

In the wake of Cleveland's 30-17 win at New Orleans, the Dolphins are left as the only team in the high-flying AFC without a 30-point game this season. Fifteen other clubs in the conference have made it there. Why, even the winless Bills have reached the 30-point mark in two of their past four tries, doing it on the road against quality opponents in New England and Baltimore.

The Dolphins? Even with Brandon Marshall added to the mix and a healthy Ronnie Brown back alongside Ricky Williams, they have yet to crack the 23-point barrier in a single game, even as they somehow split their first six outings.

"It's frustrating," Dolphins coach Tony Sparano admitted Monday, a day after losing 23-22 to the Steelers. "You would think you would score more points than that. We need to score more points than that. That's the bottom line."

In just one of Chad Henne's 13 starts in 2009 did the offense fail to produce at least two touchdowns. This year it has already happened three times, including the season-opening road wins in Minnesota and Buffalo.

In their other three games, the 2010 Dolphins have scored exactly two touchdowns on offense, which has put tremendous pressure on Pro Bowl kicker Dan Carpenter, who kicked five more field goals Sunday.

"We're lucky we've got the kicker we have," Sparano said.


-- Red-zone woes have been a huge part of the Dolphins' offensive struggles this year. Four trips to the Steelers 21-yard-line or closer failed to produce a touchdown Sunday. Overall, the Dolphins have reached the end zone on just half of their 12 forays into the red zone (20 yards and in).

"We seem to move the ball very well," Dolphins left guard Richie Incognito said. "It seems like we stall out when we get down in the red zone. It's frustrating because we know we can move the ball."

Put it this way: The Dolphins lead their close competitors in the AFC East in total offense (342 yards per game) but rank last in the division in average scoring (18.5 points).

-- Initial reports had Chris Clemons, the first-year starter at free safety, in the wrong on the 29-yard pass to Mewelde Moore that set up the Steelers' go-ahead field goal. However, Sparano said that was an incorrect placement of blame for a third-and-5 breakdown by the Dolphins' defense.

"You've got the wrong guy, fellas," Sparano said.

Instead, replays show rookie linebacker Koa Misi chasing Moore downfield after an abortive blitz attempt. It now appears Misi botched the coverage assignment.

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