“Wall-Punching Moments” from a Dolphins victory, you say?
If the Dolphins’ losing efforts in Seattle and New England during the first two weeks of the season felt like moral victories, Sunday’s 30-24 overtime win against Cleveland felt more like a loss.
There are times when teams win when they don’t deserve it. This Dolphins victory – Adam Gase’s first as an NFL head coach – should get filed under such a category.
But, this is life when you’re the Cleveland Browns. You suffer catastrophic injuries, enter a road game — against a team making its home debut in a refurbished stadium – and play your hearts out. In the end, it’s not the third-string quarterback who does you in, it’s the just-off-the-street replacement kicker who boots you in the groin.
Your 2016 Cleveland Browns! pic.twitter.com/1JG0kXl2KG
— Big Cat (@BarstoolBigCat) September 25, 2016
Three field goals.
Assuming the game never gets to OT, the Dolphins really lose this game 33-24.
— Big E (@ian693) September 25, 2016
Put that in perspective. The Browns outplayed the Dolphins in every single department yesterday and flew home with nothing to show for it.
In the past, this game would’ve left me exhausted, fuming and sore and my home a potential wreck from violent implosions. Seismic MF-bombs, SOB’s and quite a few “I-Don’t-F’ing-Believe-It” and “You’ve-Got-To-Be-F’ing-Kidding-Me’s” would’ve have registered across scientific monitoring equipment around the globe.
TWO PLAYS IN….
1. Ryan Tannehill gets picked by Jamar Taylor, considered one of the Dolphins’ bigger second-round draft disappointments.
But, the Browns being the Browns, acted as the Dolphins often do in these situations and gifted the ball back via a turnover. Miami dodged an early mistake.
Why the anger? Because Tannehill – like most starting QB’s – remains a frustrating blend of surprising big plays and head-scratching mistakes. To make a mistake on the second play of the game reeks of a lack of preparation or focus.
2. With seven minutes to play in the second quarter, Tannehill gets picked…again…this time by a rookie named Briean Boddy-Calhoun (not to be confused with Jesse “The Body” Ventura) who completed an incredible catch and run to shame the home team.
🚨 PICK-6 ALERT! 🚨
— NFL (@NFL) September 25, 2016
PRYOR TD RUN
Cleveland QB Cody Kessler enjoyed some serious ups and downs throughout the game. With Kessler either struggling or getting beat up, the Browns turned to QB-Turned-Receiver Terrelle Pryor in a Wild Cat package.
Pryor put on one of the best multi-role performances in modern NFL history. He completed 3 of 5 passes for 35 yards, rushed four times for 21 yards and a touchdown and caught eight balls for 144 yards. The dude looked like Bugs Bunny on a baseball field.
Pryor’s lone rushing TD came with Kessler nursing an injury on the sideline. He scampered around left end to cut the Dolphins lead to 24-19 with 10 minutes to go in the game. The Browns followed that up with a lob pass for the two-point conversion to close within a field goal at 24-21.
With 24 seconds to go in the fourth quarter, the Browns sack and recover Tannehill’s fumble. Our QB now has two INT’s (including a Pick Six) and – what appears at the time – a game-ending fumble.
And how did Tannehill get dropped? Right tackle Ja’wuan James looked like a turnstile on the play. TV replays from the end zone camera finger James as the prime culprit. However, another angle shows left guard – and current first round pick – Laremy “Gas Mask” Tunsil, getting collapsed into Tannehill as well.
James later got benched. The Browns should’ve considered doing the same for their right tackle – Austin Pasztor – who got called on five penalties and performed one of the worst games by an offensive lineman in the 21st Century.
But, this is the Cleveland Browns.
Did they attempt to move the ball closer to help their kicker? No. They simply decided to run down the clock, leaving a guy they just signed on Friday, to knock out a 48-yard attempt to win the game.
I shudder to think of the violence perpetrated by Dawg Pounders as they watch this whole game unfold.
OVERTIME FIRST POSSESSION
The Dolphins received the ball to start the OT session and what happens? They end up punting.
Of course, once the Browns did themselves in.
First-and-10 from the Cleveland 27 and Kessler gets himself sacked. To make matters worse, Pasztor gets called – for the fifth time – for holding.
Facing a 2-and-17, the end game became clear: Cleveland would punt from deep in their end, providing the Dolphins with a short field to win the game on at least a field goal.
Parkey with a chance to win the game for the Browns… WIDE LEFT.
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) September 25, 2016
WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN?
It means three weeks into the Adam Gase regime, we see little to no difference in the Miami Dolphins. They continue to frustrate and confuse with varying signs of quality and distress on both sides of the ball.
What the Cleveland game does do, however, is put into jeopardy our prediction that the Dolphins are primed to win 5 of their next 6 games. If they perform like this in forthcoming home games against Buffalo, Tennessee, Pittsburgh or the Jets, they will not enjoy the same amount of redemption for in-game mistakes.
HOW DID THIS GAME MAKE YOU FEEL?
In the end, I felt sorry for the Browns. They really deserved to win the game. CBS panned the crowd for fan reactions and I interpreted the looks as a mixed bag of relief and dutiful cheering as if the fans had just witnessed a farce.
The victory felt like a case of receiving something you didn’t deserve — say an award — and instead of returning it, you keep it. Some call that guilt.
But, in the NFL, they say: “You are what your record says you are.” In this case, it feels like the Dolphins are really 0-3.
Dolphins' Adam Gase appears more disgusted than happy after first NFL victory https://t.co/P1juPscL7C
— SunSentinel Dolphins (@SSMiamiDolphins) September 26, 2016
Cleveland Browns: finding new heartbreaking ways to lose since 1999.
— Jay Crawford (@jaycrawfordespn) September 25, 2016
— Orlando Alzugaray (@BigOShow) September 25, 2016
Miami Dolphins and Cleveland Browns: A tale of two long-suffering franchises https://t.co/88YcMLcKtd
— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) September 25, 2016