West Coast Washout

From a tremendous high to a devastating low. That's how far the Dolphins fell in a span of six days. As great as they looked in last Monday night's rout of the Colts, that was how bad they looked Sunday afternoon at San Francisco.

The 21-0 final score didn't do justice to the domination of the 49ers on this day. Both teams entered the game with 9-3 records, but only San Francisco looked the part on this day.

Cornerback Patrick Surtain called it a "royal butt whooping." And that was being kind.

The numbers from the debacle were ugly, with Miami managing an emabarrassingly low 78 yards in the first three quarters and finishing with only 132 yards. The Dolphins also allowed San Francisco to control the ball for over 39 minutes.

The result was the Dolphins' second shutout loss of the season — the first time that has happened since 1970.

Perhaps no sequence was more telling of the frustration of the day than the one that occurred early in the third quarter.

Despite an atrocious first-half performance, the Dolphins still were within striking distance down 14-0 when they moved inside 49ers territory. They faced a third-and-short when Ray Lucas was brought in to replace Jay Fiedler at quarterback.

The Dolphins decided to run the option, with Lucas pitching to Lamar Smith. The play developed way too slowly and Smith was buried for a loss.

The Dolphins had to punt. Bad.

Matt Turk unleashed a beauty, pinning the 49ers at their own 2. Good.

On third-and-long, San Francisco took the conservative route and handed to Garrison Hearst, who bullied his way to a first down. Bad. And it got worse.

When the drive finally ended, the 49ers had held the ball over 11 minutes and marched 98 yards for a game-sealing touchdown.

It actually was a lot easier to dismiss the loss as just one of those days than try to decipher what went wrong. Because, frankly, everything went wrong.

The offensive line was dominated from start to finish, with Fiedler getting sacked six times and the running game going nowhere.

Smith had no room to run, but he again looked tentative when he carried the ball.

When Fiedler had time, he simply wasn't accurate. He was intercepted three times, although two of those came when he was trying to force the action because the Dolphins were so desperately behind.

But Fiedler also missed a wide-open Chris Chambers running free down the middle on what could have been a touchdown early in the game.

The defense wasn't much better. The Dolphins simply couldn't stop the 49ers running game, with Garrison Hearst gaining 103 yards.

This game proved — if it wasn't already known — that the Dolphins simply aren't good enough to compete if they don't bring their best game.

But the bright side is that this wasn't a conference loss. The Dolphins still lead the AFC East, although next Saturday's game at New England now takes on even more importance.

As for Sunday's fiasco at Frisco, perhaps Fiedler summed it up best when he said, "I think they won it in the trenches, in the secondary, in our backfield, all over the place."

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