Troubling Signs

The Dolphins did what they were supposed to do on Sunday by beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but they certainly didn't look very impressive doing it. In fact, they came uncomfortably close to losing to the lowly Bucs, and it would have been a loss that practically would have meant the end of the season for the Dolphins.

As it is, it's hard to feel very confident about the Dolphins' chances of getting back into the playoff race.

This really isn't about Ronnie Brown leaving the locker room on crutches Sunday because we don't know yet the extent of his injury. The Dolphins should be able to make do without Brown if need be because of how well Ricky Williams has been playing — although no one will aruge the Dolphins are better with both Brown and Williams.

One concern is Chad Henne, who continues his very uneven season on Sunday.

The good news was that he came through in the clutch with two big completions to Davone Bess on the game-winning drive.

The bad news was that he threw an absolutely awful interception minutes earlier to put Tampa Bay in position to take the lead in the first place.

The defense again was less playoff-caliber against the Bucs, and this was one of the worst offenses the Dolphins are going to see all year.

The Dolphins really should have been able to put this game away much earlier after going to the locker room at halftime with a 19-6 lead.

Yet the Dolphins were outscored 14-6 in the fourth quarter, continuing a disturbing season-long trend.

The schedule sends the Dolphins to Carolina on a short week, and these are not the early-season Panthers we'll be seeing. They've won four of their last six, including a nine-point victory over the talented Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

The Dolphins' run defense doesn't seem as good lately as it was early in the season, and that's not good news heading into a matchup against DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart.

Everything about this matchup against Carolina now looks challenging, especially with the lackluster performance against Tampa Bay.

As Coach Tony Sparano said after the game: "WSe won a football game here today, but you can't ignore the signs."


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