Instant Replay

Sadly, what happened at Land Shark Stadium on Sunday afternoon wasn't anything we hadn't seen before. We don't mean the injuries to quarterbacks Chad Henne and Pat White, but rather the way the Dolphins fell way behind before mounting a comeback that ultimately fell short. Maybe that was just the appropriate way to wrap up a season that fell short.

The Dolphins never quit after their 0-3 start to the season, just like they didn't quit when they fell behind at Tennessee on Dec. 20, against Houston last Sunday and against Pittsburgh on Sunday.

But there was a reason the Dolphins started off 0-3 and there was a reason they fell behind by 18 against the Titans, by 27 against the Texans and by 17 against the Steelers.

The 2009 Dolphins were a flawed team, but late in the season it was the defense that most often let the team down.

Sure, Joey Porter's fumble recovery gave the Dolphins a chance to tie or take the lead after the Dolphins had rallied from 27-10 down to make it 27-24. And, yes, Tyler Thigpen followed that with a costly interception.

But the defense then let the Steelers get first four downs to kill all but 40 seconds of the final 6:10.

Earlier in the game, the secondary gave up another big play, that one a 54-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to rookie Mike Wallace.

What changed in this game was what happened on offense with all the injuries, first to Henne and then the scary injury where White was knocked out cold.

Tyler Thigpen had to come into the game and he looked very impressive in leading two touchdown drives, then couldn't finish off the deal with an interception following the Porter fumble recovery and another pick to seal the outcome in the final minute.

Through it all, the Dolphins should tremendous resolve and fight, and that's something Tony Sparano lauded after the game. But their inability to win close games showed they were lacking in terms of ability.

The Dolphins won the AFC East in 2008 because they were so good at winning close games; they dropped to 7-9 in 2009 because they weren't good enough in those circumstances.

The areas where the Dolphins need to improve should be pretty obvious — wide receiver, tight end, safety, linebacker — but what they do have is the right make-up in terms of the philosophy of the team.

What Sunday's loss to Pittsburgh showed once again is that they came up just short in the personnel department.


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