No looking back

If only Ronnie Brown hadn't fumbled at Buffalo. It only Chris Chambers had been able to come up with that low fourth-down pass from Gus Frerotte against New England. If only the Dolphins had been ready to play that miserable November day at Cleveland. Sunday's game at New England easily could have meant a whole lot more, perhaps even a shot at a division title, if only for a big play here and there earlier in the season. But the Dolphins aren't looking back, they're only focusing on the present.

"To be honest, there's no need even thinking about it and maybe it should have happened to us," defensive end David Bowens said Wednesday. "Maybe we weren't meant to make the playoffs in Nick's first year. Maybe we needed some key losses, especially the Cleveland game, to wake our tails up. We would win a couple of games and just pat ourselves on the back and not focus on, even if we won, what we did wrong in the game. We just kind of got complacent and relaxed a little bit and then we ended up losing a couple of games in a row.

"I think our attitude has changed from that Cleveland game, just to not get relaxed and to approach every team differently. Every week it's a different scheme, different players, and we have to approach it with a different attitude. I think once we realized that it was just a week-to-week deal, we were able to ring off a couple wins."

Actually, it's five victories in a row the Dolphins have been able to reel off, and that's why they're staring at the possibility of a winning season in Nick Saban's first season as head coach.

It's some pretty heady stuff, given that the Dolphins were only 4-12 a year ago.

But Bowens is right, maybe the Dolphins needed to reach a new low -- the 22-0 loss at Cleveland -- before they could turn things around and start playing the kind of football Saban had been looking for.

"I have to look at the big picture," Williams said. "Chances are we wouldn't be where we are today if we hadn't gone through those games and those tough losses, learning how to win. I think what Coach Saban talks about is the process. The process of not playing well is that you learn how TO play well. I think if you look at it as a whole, and see the adversity that we overcame to win five (straight) games in this league, at any time, is something that is very special. I think you have to be happy with what we've accomplished."

That's why the Dolphins would rather look straight ahead right now.

Looking back isn't going to get them in the playoffs this season, but maybe they learned something along the way that will help them get there in 2006.


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