Plenty of Blame for Collapse

The Dolphins' problems have been easy to identify: Red-zone offense. Third-down inefficiency. Defensive lapses. n Sunday, during Miami's 18-15 overtime loss against the Broncos, another problem became apparent for the winless Dolphins: They melt under pressure.

That happened once before this season, when Colt McCoy led the Browns to an improbable, final-minute victory against the Dolphins in Week 3. But Miami's collapse against the Broncos was more surprising.

The Dolphins led the Broncos throughout the game Sunday, and they were ahead 15-0 with less than three minutes to play. With 2:44 left, Tim Tebow threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas.

All the Dolphins had to do then is recover the onside kick, and they likely would win. But they didn't recover the onside kick. And they didn't stop Tebow and the Broncos, either.

Tebow threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Fells with 17 seconds to play, and then Tebow ran through the middle of the Miami defense for the tying two-point conversion.

"You'll find out about the real mettle of the guys in that locker room," Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said. "And I firmly believe in the guys in that locker room. I just do. We've just got to get ourselves through one of these with a win."

Though Sparano believes in his players, they have continually let him down -- and have let down their teammates -- in crunch time. In every game this season, the Dolphins' defense has given up a touchdown -- or touchdowns -- that have made victory more improbable.

It just so happened that the occurrence was more magnified against the Broncos, given Denver scored both of its touchdowns in the final three minutes of regulation. Afterward, Dolphins players took turns accepting the blame.

"I'll take responsibility," linebacker Kevin Burnett said. "I missed a tackle and the ball. If anything, it's not (Sparano's) fault. I'll tell you that much. I'll put that one on me. I've got to make those two plays."

Burnett was referring to being beat late in regulation on a 28-yard pass from Tebow to Fells. Burnett also missed a key tackle.

And the defense as a whole failed on the two-point conversion, when Tebow ran into the end zone untouched.

"We knew he was going to get the ball, run the ball. We just didn't make a play," linebacker Karlos Dansby said.

That has been a common theme for the Dolphins, especially late in games.


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