For the first time all season the Miami Dolphins lost a game against an opponent most perceived as inferior. In other words, they lost a game they were supposed to win.
And, boy, did they blow it. The Dolphins committed four turnovers and were beaten soundly in all three categories – offense, defense and special teams – as they put on their worst performance of the season in a 37-3 loss to Tennessee at Sun Life Stadium.
Miami (4-5), which has now lost back-to-back games, fell behind, 14-0, in the first quarter and things got worse from there as Tennessee (4-6) ended its two-game losing streak.
This was also a landmark loss, of sorts. It was Miami’s worst defeat since a 41-0 beatdown at Indianapolis on Dec. 14, 1997.
The Dolphins, so adept at playmaking during their three-game winning streak, didn’t make anything happen in any area Sunday. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill (23-for-39, 217 yards, three interceptions, no touchdowns) threw three interceptions. Miami, which only has two games rushing for more than 100 yards, struggled to run the ball once again, ending up with 54 yards on 15 carries.
The problems started up front for the Dolphins. Both the offensive and defensive lines were manhandled by Tennessee.
Running back Reggie Bush, who has just two games rushing for more than 70 yards, ended with 21 yards on four carries.
But it went beyond not being able to gain yards on the league’s 30th-ranked run defense. Three Dolphins offensive linemen – center Mike Pouncey, guard Richie Incognito and left tackle Jake Long – and tight end Anthony Fasano were called for penalties. Incognito was yanked for a few plays after his second-quarter unnecessary roughness penalty.
Defensively things weren’t better. After not allowing a 100-yard rusher for 22 games they allowed Tennessee running back Chris Johnson 104 yards through three quarters. He ended with 126 yards on 23 carries. He’s now rushed for more than 100 yards in all three career games against Miami.
The Dolphins made a mess of almost every major statistical category. They allowed Tennessee to convert 7-of-12 third downs through the first three quarters. This is the same Miami team that allowed Indianapolis to convert 13-of-19 third downs last week.
This game was essentially over at halftime when the Titans led, 24-3. Tennessee took its 7-0 lead by converting a Reggie Bush first-quarter fumble into a touchdown. Titans quarterback Jake Locker, playing after he missed five games with a left shoulder injury, found rookie Kendall Wright for a 7-yard touchdown pass. Then Johnson scored on a 17-yard run for a 14-0 lead.
The Titans went ahead 21-0 when linebacker Colin McCarthy, the former University of Miami standout, intercepted Tannehill and returned it 49 yards for a touchdown. The Dolphins added a field goal to prevent the first-half shutout.
Tannehill, who entered the game not having thrown an interception in his last 98 passes, threw two first-half interceptions. His streak ended at 107 consecutive passes.
Penalties piled up, too, Miami had been flagged seven times for 67 yards through three quarters.
Bush, who lost a fumble on Miami’s second possession of the first quarter, didn’t return for the rest of the first half. Bush was yanked after he lost a fumble against the New York Jets, too. Apparently that won’t be tolerated by coach Joe Philbin.
Tannehill’s third interception was his worst. He threw it right to linebacker Zach Brown. All three of his interceptions went to linebackers.
Miami visits Buffalo on Thursday this week.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun