Familiar Scenario

Another Sunday, another fourth-quarter collapse for the Dolphins. Back in Week 3, Miami allowed Cleveland quarterback Colt McCoy to lead his team on a game-winning touchdown drive in the final minute. In Week 7, Tim Tebow and the Broncos erased a 15-0 deficit in the final minutes before winning in overtime. And now the Dolphins can add another one to the collection.

They led the Giants throughout Sunday's game, and they led 17-10 entering the final quarter. Predictably, the Dolphins lost 20-17 after the Giants' Victor Cruz caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning with 5:58 to play.

That one play perhaps best illustrated the Dolphins' problems Sunday: They had no answer for the Giants' passing game. Miami also failed to make plays -- both on offense and on defense -- when it mattered most.

The defeat leaves the Dolphins with an 0-7 record -- their worst since starting the 2007 season 0-13 before finishing with a single victory. Perhaps as important, it leaves the Dolphins with another defeat of the debilitating variety -- the kind that has the potential to sting worse and take longer to recover from.

Not that Dolphins coach Tony Sparano would necessarily buy that.

"You guys can write this whatever way you want to write it, OK?" Sparano said. "But that group in that locker room has a lot of guts and a lot of courage. OK? You write it whatever way you want to write it, OK, but that's the fact."

Sparano has adamantly defended his players throughout his team's poor start. Likewise, his players have stood by him. The Dolphins did play with an edge in the beginning Sunday, scoring touchdowns on each of their first two drives.

Those marches went for 66 yards and 90 yards, and both were among the Dolphins' most effective drives of the season. After that, though, Miami scored just three more points. The Dolphins had just three possessions in the first half and then failed to move the ball as effectively after halftime.

"And I guess that's where it started to turn, if you will," quarterback Matt Moore said. "We just were not moving the ball like we were earlier. Nothing I can figure out right now, but I guess that's what it was."

So now the Dolphins will move on and begin preparations for the Chiefs, whom they play in Kansas City this weekend. Again Sparano will ask his players to overcome a difficult game that was lost in the fourth quarter.

NOTES, QUOTES

BY THE NUMBERS: 103 -- Rushing yards Sunday for Reggie Bush, who has slowly started to improve after his slow start. He eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark for the first time this season. Bush averaged 6.9 yards on 15 carries, with his long run going for 35 yards.

TRENDING: Red-zone struggles and third-down inefficiency are two things that have hurt the Dolphins this season. They improved in one area on Sunday but not the other. The Dolphins scored touchdowns in each of their trips inside the red zone. It was their best performance of the season inside an opponent's 20-yard line. Third down, however, continued to be an issue, as Miami went just 5-for-13.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

PLAYER NOTES

-- RG Richie Incognito was inactive Sunday after suffering an ankle injury the week before against the Broncos. He had been practicing all week.

-- OL Nate Garner made his first start of the season at right guard in place of Richie Incognito. Garner has also lined up as an extra blocking tight end at times this season.

-- RB Steve Slaton for the first time was the Dolphins' primary kick returner. He added a boost there, averaging 28.3 yards on three kickoff returns.

-- CB Jimmy Wilson made his first start of the season at cornerback in place of the injured Vontae Davis. Wilson allowed a touchdown pass and finished with three tackles.

-- C Mike Pouncey, who's in the midst of a successful rookie season, left the game for a period in the second half with a neck injury. He returned and said he was OK after the game.


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