The Dolphins played short-handed on Sunday with both Zach Thomas and Patrick Surtain sidelined by injuries. But the way they were manhandled in their 31-7 loss at Tennessee, it probably wouldn't have much of a difference.

The Dolphins got spanked in every way possible, as they sustained their most lopsided loss since a 24-0 shutout defeat against the Jets in November of 2001.

The Dolphins were only able to avoid another shutout Sunday when they got a meaningless touchdown (a pass from Sage Rosenfels to rookie tight end Donald Lee) in garbage time against a defense that was resting its starters.

For most of the game, though, it was total domination.

And it started immediately, with the Titans marching 69 yards on the opening drive of the game, taking a 7-0 lead when the Dolphins let Tyrone Calico run free across the middle and he completed a 12-yard touchdown.

The Dolphins didn't go anywhere on offense and Tennessee came right back with another long touchdown drive, which came after the Titans had a touchdown overturned by replay.

After Eddie George waltzed into the end zone with a 2-yard touchdown run — and we do mean waltz because the Dolphins defensive line got blown up on the play — it was already 14-0.

The way the Dolphins offense has been playing lately, the game was all but over at that point.

The Dolphins defense finally settled down a little, but the offense continued to do nothing until its fourth possession when Brian Griese connected with new wide receiver Kendall Newson for a 37-yard gain for the Titans 38-yard line.

But on the very next play, the nightmare of Indianapolis re-appeared as Jevon Kearse ran around left tackle Wade Smith and knocked the ball away from Griese from behind.

Tennessee recovered and the Dolphins were never in the game after that.

Griese's second fumble of the game, late in the second quarter, gave Tennessee the ball at the Dolphins 25-yard line, and Steve McNair hit a wide open Justin McCareins on the next play, and McCareins strolled into the end zone for a touchdown and a 21-0 lead.

Things didn't get any better in the second half, as the Dolphins went three-and-out on their first series and Griese later was picked off by Andre Dyson, who returned the interception for a touchdown.

Griese would be intercepted two more times before finally being replaced by Rosenfels for mop-up duty.

By that time, Tennessee had added a Gary Anderson field goal to reach the 30-point mark for the sixth consecutive game.

For the Dolphins, the loss left them with a 5-4 record for the second consecutive year. And, as was the case last year, the next opponent will be Baltimore at Pro Player Stadium.

The difference is that Baltimore is better than it was last year and the Dolphins don't look as good as they were.

Especially after Sunday's pathetic effort.

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