Reality Check

There have been a lot of theories put forth as to why the Dolphins lost at New England on Sunday, such as the lack of a pass rush to the failure of the receivers to make the big catch late in the fourth quarter to the defense's inability to contain Randy Moss. Those are all valid, but there might be a simpler reason than all of those.

It's simple, the Dolphins just aren't as good as the Patriots, which means they'll lose to them more often than not, particularly when they're facing each other at Gillette Stadium.

The truth is it's easy to pick out several things that didn't go according to plan on Sunday, but the Dolphins actually didn't play that bad a game.

The offense did a very good job on third down, converting 53 percent of their opportunities. The Dolphins were flagged for only three penalties. And they didn't commit a turnover.

Put all those factors together, and what you have is a pretty clean game.

The offense even came up with a new wrinkle, the spread-option offense and that helped produce a second-quarter touchdown drive.

But here's the problem: The Dolphins have to come up with innovative stuff on offense to make up for their lack of personnel in the passing game.

They have to play a clean game, otherwise they'll get blown out.

This wasn't the first time this has happened, the Dolphins also were very efficient in the Monday night game against the Colts and also lost that game because they simply don't have the personnel to match up against the top teams.

The situation was pretty similar last year, it's just that the Dolphins did have enough talent then to beat the teams they were supposed to beat.

What happened in the playoff game against Baltimore was an indicator that the Dolphins just didn't have elite talent. Guess what? They still don't.

Want proof? At this point, exactly how many players on the Dolphins look like they could be headed to the Pro Bowl? Think hard.

The answer is probably no one. Now, that doesn't mean the Dolphins are totally without talent, but they fall short in several areas.

We don't need to go over those because that would be like piling on. But what the Dolphins absolutely, positively must have every time they play a good game is to have their star players playing at their best.

That means pretty much everybody on the offensive line, that means Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, that means Joey Porter and Jason Taylor.

Out of those, can you say anybody stood out against the Patriots on Sunday. Huh, no.

After the 1-15 nightmare of 2007, it was clear it would take a while for the roster to be built up again and it's simply not something that can be done overnight.

By all appearances, the Dolphins have hit on their last two first-round picks with Jake Long and Vontae Davis, Sean Smith looks like he's going to be a good corner, Chad Henne has the look of the long-term answer at quarterback and Randy Starks clearly was a great pick-up in free agency.

But holes remain throughout this roster, most notably at wide receiver, and that's why it's tough for the Dolphins to compete against teams like Indy and New England.

The perfect example was the third quarter when the Dolphins put together a methodical march down the field that took over 10 minutes. It was a drive filled with great execution and several clutch plays.

But all it took was one 71-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Randy Moss to counter that long drive.

The Dolphins, except for those two Ted Ginn Jr. returns against the Jets, simply don't have that kind of quick-strike capability. They have to claw and stratch and fight and avoid mistakes to beat good teams.

Sometimes it's going to work; other times even their best or close to their best won't do.

That's what happened against New England on Sunday. The Dolphins didn't lose the game, they just got beat by a better team.

Plain and simple. Not replay review needed.

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