Jimmy Wilson wanted the blame. After the Miami Dolphins' 17-16 defeat here against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, Wilson stood in front of his locker and told anyone who would listen that this loss was his fault.
He didn't hide. He didn't shy away from responsibility. Instead Wilson reflected on the pass that he watched sail over his head into the hands of Browns receiver Mohamed Massaquoi, whose 14-yard touchdown reception with 43 seconds to play gave the Browns an improbable victory.
"The ball was there to be picked and I didn't get the pick."
If he had intercepted Colt McCoy's pass, Wilson said, "We wouldn't be sitting here talking about how I cost the team the game."
Wilson, the Dolphins' rookie cornerback, felt responsible. But in a loss that was as dispiriting as it was disappointing, there was plenty of blame to go around. The Dolphins, losers of six consecutive games dating to last season, failed when it mattered most on Sunday at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
They failed in the final minutes when McCoy calmly guided the Browns (2-1) during a 13-play, 80-yard drive that ended in the touchdown pass to Massaquoi. McCoy, the second-year pro, often appeared frazzled and daunted by the Dolphins' defense. Except on that final drive.
The Dolphins failed, too, in the red zone, where they converted just one of three trips inside Browns' 20-yard line into a touchdown. The red zone failures didn't include a turnover - a Reggie Bush fumble - on the Browns' 19, nor did they include a fourth-quarter drive that stalled on the Browns' 20 and ended with a field goal. Had the Dolphins scored a touchdown there, they likely win.
The Dolphins (0-3) final failure began with 36 seconds to play. Thanks to a Browns penalty, the Dolphins began the drive in Cleveland territory, on the 47-yard line, and needed only about 20 yards - perhaps even less - to give Dan Carpenter a reasonable chance to attempt a game-winning field goal.
Instead, the Dolphins gained no yards. Quarterback Chad Henne threw four consecutive incomplete passes - the last of which was an interception to Mike Adams.
Afterward, frustration reigned in the Dolphins locker room. Perhaps Kendall Langford, the defensive end, best described the mood.
"That's not acceptable," Langford said. "We had some missed opportunities in all phases of the game and we let them hang around. We should have blew their [butts] out. They were not a good team."
Indeed, the Dolphins finished the game with the statistical edge in virtually every category. More first downs. More total yards. More yards rushing. More yards passing.
They also had more penalties (10) and penalty yards (93). And more self-inflicted wounds.
"Statistics don't matter," Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said. "That's what I can say. The end result matters - winning the football game. And at the end of the game they made more plays than we did."
Had the Dolphins capitalized on their numerous scoring chances, what transpired at the end of the game likely wouldn't have mattered. McCoy said the Browns' offense "played like garbage for the most part of the day" but it still executed when it most needed to execute..
Sparano, meanwhile, tried to argue that his team has made progress during the past three weeks. But the Dolphins managed to do something on Sunday that they hadn't yet this season: They turned what appeared to be a sure victory into a defeat.
Week 3 (9/25): Browns 17, Dolphins 16
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