Tough Loss Against Baltimore

In the aftermath of the heartbreaking 26-23 loss to the Baltimore Ravens Sunday at Sun Life Stadium, what exactly do we make of the 2013 Dolphins? The Baltimore game, which wasn't decided until Caleb Sturgis' 57-yard field goal attempt missed wide left, illustrated the good and the bad we've seen from Joe Philbin's team in the first five weeks of the regular season.

At the top of the list of the negative developments has been the pass protection, which again would prove crucial in the game against the Ravens.

It was a pair of sacks that stopped the Dolphins' next-to-last drive and set up the Ravens at their own 40 to start what would be their own game-winning field goal drive.

And then there was the last, huge sack after Ryan Tannehill converted a fourth-and-10 with a dramatic and spectacular 46-yard completion to a diving Brandon Gibson. It came one play after Tannehill spiked the ball, cost the Dolphins 5 yards and forced Sturgis to attempt a 57-yard field goal instead of a kick from 52 yards out.

No question, that might have made the difference between a make by Sturgis and a miss.

That said, the Dolphins again showed great resiliency in this game, coming back from a 23-13 deficit in the fourth quarter after they had watched the Ravens score 17 unanswered points in the second half.

The defense came up with two takeaways, including Reshad Jones' interception return for a touchdown after first-round pick Dion Jordan hit Joe Flacco's arm as he was releasing a pass.

The Dolphins again won the turnover battle against Baltimore, with their two takeaways against no turnovers on offense.

Tannehill had another good outing throwing the ball, finishing with 307 yards and three completions of 40 yards or more — to three different receivers (Mike Wallace, Charles Clay and Gibson).

But Tannehill again had to share responsibility for some of the six sacks he took for holding on to the ball too long and not simply taking off and scrambling out of the pocket.

Tannehill also once again didn't get much help from the running game, with the Dolphins gaining a paltry 22 yards on 11 attempts.

It wasn't a great day for the run defense, either, with Baltimore gaining 133 yards, albeit with only a 3.3 average. What was really damaging, though, was Baltimore starting its final drive with a couple of 6-yard runs by Ray Rice.

The pass defense also was spotty, allowing three completions of 40 yards or more. There also were two damaging pass-interference penalties on the drive that allowed Baltimore to tie game 13-13 in the third quarter.

In reality, though, the call against Nolan Carroll was shaky at best, while the one against Brent Gimes in the end zone was downright bad.

So the Dolphins now have arrived at their bye with a 3-2 record.

It's a little disappointing considering the Dolphins were 3-0 when they went to New Orleans last weekend. On the flip side, can't think of many Dolphins fans who wouldn't have taken that mark before the start of the season with a slate of opponents that included the Colts, Falcons, Saints and Ravens.

So, what to make of this Dolphins team?

Clearly, there are reasons for optimism as the Dolphins head into their bye, the first being the small number of elite teams in the AFC. The Dolphins also have shown the ability this season to bounce back, a tribute to everyone but Tannehill in particular.

But the two glaring issues that have plagued the Dolphins so far must be solved if this season is to include more than just the 16 regular season games. That's the running game and the pass protection.

Still, the Dolphins clearly have positioned themselves to make a push for the playoffs after they return from their bye. And that's what stands out even after a disappointing loss.

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