Final Game 11 Observations

After what happened at the Superdome on Monday night, it's pretty clear what a big opportunity the Dolphins wasted when they lost at Buffalo. Before we move on to next weekend's game against New England, we take one last look at the collapse at Ralph Wilson Stadium before closing the book on it.

-- With the Patriots losing to the Saints by 21 points, the Dolphins could have been in position Sunday to take first place in the AFC East. Instead, they'll be just hoping to keep their faint playoff hopes alive.

-- Yes, the Dolphins are still alive. It's just that their margin for error has gotten even smaller. And with games at Jacksonville, at Tennessee and against Houston and Pittsburgh to close out the season, it's rather unrealistic to think they're getting back to the postseason this year.

-- That loss to Buffalo was bad, and there are just so many things not to like about it. Coach Tony Sparano said he counted 20 momentum plays in the fourth quarter, but there were others at other parts of the game, too.

-- It's Chad Henne who comes off looking the worst among the players because of his three interceptions on the Dolphins' last three drives. But break them down and you'll see he didn't play as poorly as the stats might suggest. He was hit as he was throwing to Brian Hartline on the first — and most costly — interception, and the third was bad luck in that defensive lineman Corey Mace never got any penetration against Joe Berger and just jumped at the line of scrimmage, tipping the ball in the air to himself.

-- Before that final 5 minutes, Henne actually had played a very, very good game.

As usual, he just didn't get any help from his wide receivers, with Ted Ginn Jr. again failing to come up with a catchable ball and Davone Bess also dropping one he should have had.

-- Henne also got no help from the coaching staff, which keeps insisting on yanking him out of the game on a regular basis. The results on Sunday were bad. Real bad.

-- Start with the ill-fated decision to have Ricky Williams throw out of the Wildcat on first-and-goal from the 3 on the opening drive after the Dolphins had pounded the ball down the field. Williams throwing a pick on his poor pass attempt isn't the reason the Dolphins lost, but it just might have been the reason the Bills had a lot of fight in them after that first drive. Can't help but think things would have been different had the Dolphins completed their opening drive with a touchdown on the ground. And, really, are the Bills going to stop Ricky Williams on three runs from the 3? Don't think so.

-- The other over-use was inserting Pat White to run the option after Henne had throw a 17-yard strike to Anthony Fasano down the middle on the drive that followed the field goal that gave Buffalo a 17-14 lead. Why take Henne out at that time? To have White run the option? Didn't get that one, either.

-- On the very next play, Henne got picked off. Not saying one had anything to do with the other, but again the timing didn't make sense. It seems the Dolphins keep trying to force White into the action when his impact all year has been very minimal.

-- From this vantage point, it should be more important to try to establish Henne and let him go through all situations than trying to see what you can get out of White.

-- Maybe it's time to give the rookie corners, Vontae Davis, in particular some help. After Randy Moss, it was Terrell Owens' turn to beat Davis deep. It also seems like Sean Smith is getting thrown at way less often that Davis, although we don't want to draw conclusions just yet. Bottom line is that both still look like promising corners.

-- Speaking of promising, how about the work of Tony McDaniel? He was very impressive in his most extended playing time of the season and Sparano made it a point the next day to say McDaniel should get more playing time from now on.

-- That should mean less playing time for Paul Soliai, who was virtually invisible against the Bills in his first start of the season for Jason Ferguson.

-- Another positive sign was seeing tight end Anthony Fasano re-appear on offense. He had by far his best game of the season and could be a big factor down the stretch.

-- Of course, the Dolphins also could have made life easier on themselves against Buffalo with one big return on special teams, but outside of the second Jets game, those have been nowhere to be found this season. And now it seems like Ginn has reverted to his habit of looking for the sideline the first chance he gets.

-- One final word: As losses go, this was one of the most depressing in a while. Then again, it'll all be forgotten if the Dolphins somehow can upset the Pats on Sunday.

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