WANNSTEDT NOT DOWN ON DEFENSE

Coach Dave Wannstedt obviously was disappointed by the performance of the defense in the loss to the Buffalo Bills, but he's not about to lose confidence in that group.

"I don't think you can overreact," Wannstedt said during his day-after-the-game press conference. "After 12 weeks, if have the fourth- or fifth-best defense in the league, you're obviously doing something right. We just didn't play as well yesterday as we wanted to."

That's obviously a major understatement.

The Dolphins were downright dreadful on defense, ruining the best rushing performance in franchise history — Ricky Williams' 228-yard effort.

The defense was sloppy in a lot of different areas, but probably nothing was as frustrating as watching the Dolphins drop interception after interception.

The culprits included Zach Thomas, Jamar Fletcher, Patrick Surtain and Sam Madison, who not only botched the pick but wound up tipping the ball to Buffalo wide receiver Eric Moulds, who strolled into the end zone for a 57-yard touchdown that made it 31-21 late in the third quarter.

"There were interceptions to be had, but we didn't come up with them," Wannstedt said. "I don't have an explanation why."

One argument Wannstedt won't buy is the Dolphins simply can't play defense as well on the road as they do at home, although the evidence seems to back that claim.

Think about the Dolphins' dominant performances on defense this season. There was the first Jets game, the New England game, the Baltimore game, the San Diego game. All at home.

Now think about those games when the defense really struggled. At Kansas City. At Buffalo. Even in the victories at Indianapolis and Denver, the Dolphins allowed more than 400 yards of defense.

See a trend here.

Again, Wannstedt said playing on the road shouldn't make a difference for the defense.

"I hate to even think about that, I really do," he said. "If you give great effort and execute your assignments, you should play great defense home or away, hot or cold, rain or snow. I really believe that."

The Dolphins have two more road games this season and the defense will have to pick it up if the Dolphins are to make some noise in the playoffs.

Wannstedt is well aware of this.

"Defense has been the backbone of this team and will continue to be," he said. "We understand we have to play great defense down the stretch."


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