But the Dolphins found a new level of dysfunction on Sunday with a bizarre series of plays that prevented them from scoring after getting to first-and-goal from the Buffalo Bills’ 2-yard line.
This didn’t seem intentional, but the lack of protection is a direct result of the team trading off its best player. And the lack of execution underscores how little hope they have at the moment.
The good: a fake field goal
Not everything was bad for the Dolphins on Sunday, at least from the start. They got off to their second lead of the season and scored two touchdowns for the first time all year.
Driving for a chance to put up a third score, the Dolphins found themselves at fourth-and=1 from the 3-yard line and cooked up a fake field goal that actually worked. Punter Matt Haack was able to plunge forward to pick up a yard for the first down.
The Dolphins had chewed up nearly 10 minutes of game time and were on the verge of making it a 21-9 game, if only they could pick up the remaining two yards.
The bad: a strip sack
The Dolphins have struggled across the board this season, and they’ve been particularly bad right when they’re knocking on the door. Before this sequence, the Dolphins had scored touchdowns on only 33.3 percent of goal-to-go drives.
Things immediately got off to a bad start when seemingly no player could block despite there being a fullback and three tight ends on the field. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick got hit in the backfield before he could even hand the ball off to Kalen Ballage, and he fumbled in the process. The only saving grace was that he was able to pick it up before turning the ball over. Yet.
Adding insult to injury, the player who sacked Fitzpatrick was Jordan Phillips, a former second-rounder whom the Dolphins waived in 2018. Even before this game, he set new career-highs with four sacks and six tackles for a loss this season, and he got a chance to show his old team what he had.
The ugly: the red zone interception
Fitzpatrick was able to come up with his own fumble after being sacked, but he couldn’t hang onto the ball for long. Just two plays after the successful fake field goal, he had already been backed up 10 yards and then just gifted the Bills the ball.
Looking to his right, Fitzpatrick threw a floater to Isaiah Ford that was easily caught by Tre'Davious White. Seemingly inspired by the big play, the Bills marched down the field 98 yards on 12 plays and retook the lead for good.
The Bills piled on another 14 points to close out the game, but the goal-line stand loomed large. Miami got within three points on a Fitzpatrick rush with 1:45 left, so an extra touchdown — or even a field goal — may have been the difference between their first win of the season and another weekend of despair.
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