Season Still a Major Success

The Dolphins' trip to the playoffs ended just like the last one did, with a turnover-filled, double-digit home loss against the Baltimore Ravens. But there definitely was something different about this one, something that left more of a positive outlook on the future.

Unlike 2001, the Dolphins clearly look like an ascending team, not one running in place.

Yes, Sunday's loss to the Ravens showed there's plenty of improvement that needs to take place, but it most certainly appears there's a good foundation in place, starting at the top.

Now, that doesn't make what happened Sunday any less disappointing because these Dolphins weren't satisfied with merely making the playoffs.

"It's kind of messed up because nobody planned to be in this situation right now," said linebacker Joey Porter. "They say you try to chew gum to stop you from smoking cigarettes, right? I'm chewing gum to stop me from crying right now. I'm trying to put my mind somewhere else. Everybody's so emotional right now. We weren't just happy to be here. We were planning to move on."

The truth is the Dolphins weren't good enough to move on. There are some — starting with the folks in New England — who will tell you they shouldn't have been in the playoffs in the first place.

And you know what? Purely in terms of talent, these Dolphins most definitely didn't belong in the playoffs because there are a lot of holes on this team and practically every position on the roster could use an upgrade. But the Dolphins earned their playoff berth by playing highly efficient football and always making plays when they had to.

On Sunday, that was nowhere to be found.

There were too many examples to list, but you can start with the ill-fated end-around in the fourth quarter when Ted Ginn Jr. bobbled the handoff from Chad Pennington, resulting in a 19-yard loss that knocked the Dolphins out of field goal range and virtually ended their comeback hopes.

Who knows what would have happened had that play not misfired. Ginn looked like he had a lot of open field on the outside and probably would have gotten the Dolphins a first down near the Baltimore 15 or better.

Remember, the score was 20-9 at the time.

But the truth is the Dolphins didn't lose because of one mistake. They lost because of a lot of mistakes. They lost because their offense didn't have enough answers against a tremendous Baltimore defense. They lost, well, because they weren't as good as the Ravens.

The Dolphins were innovative all season with their play-calling, and the truth is they had to be to make up for their personnel deficiencies. They were resilient on defense, making enough plays to get the job done without having anywhere near the talent as that defense in Baltimore, or in Pittsburgh, or in Tennessee.

Yes, it was disappointing to watch the Dolphins lose at home, but it was great to finally have a playoff game to talk about in the first place.

Can the Dolphins string a run of playoff performances now? It's way too early to talk about that, other than to say they'll have to get a lot better in terms of personnel to do it.

Sunday proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt. Just like the regular season proved that these Dolphins could find a way to make the most of what they have.

Dolphins Report Top Stories