The $60 Million Man wound up being the last wide receiver standing from what the Dolphins top wide receiver trio was just before midseason. After looking none too bionic Sunday, Mike Wallace pointed no fingers at nobody but himself.
Free agent Brandon Gibson went down in the seventh game of the season after 30 catches for 326 yards and three touchdowns. Brian Hartline, quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s main security blanket, went down with a left knee injury in the first quarter. That left Wallace and he came up with only five catches for 25 yards.
“We just have to step up, starting with me,” Wallace said. “I have to be a much better leader for the team. I have to step up, make more plays anytime anybody goes down. Anything happens. I’ve got to do better myself.”
Wallace finished the season with 73 catches for 930 yards, a career high in catches, but below his career average in yards. His 12.7 yards per catch fell 4.5 yards short of his career average. His five touchdowns was a career low.
“I feel like we had energy, but we didn’t have enough,” Wallace said of Sunday’s 20-7 loss. “They had a lot more energy than our team did today. We didn’t capitalize. We had a lot of chances. They even missed a field goal to give us an extra chance. We still didn’t take advantage of it. They gave us plenty. Our defense played a great game. We didn’t play well enough on offense.”
Earlier this week, Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie called Hartline the Dolphins No. 1 receiver, never mind the big money paid Wallace.
The numbers back Cromartie. Hartline led the Dolphins in catches (76), yards (1,016) and yards per catch (13.4). That’s the fifth time in Hartline’s five seasons he’s led the Dolphins in yards per catch (minimum 10 catches).
The 25-yard first quarter catch on which he injured his knee made Hartline only the fourth Dolphins wide receiver with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, joining a list that includes Mark Duper in 1983 and 1984; Irving Fryar in 1993 and 1994; and Brandon Marshall in 2010 and 2011.
Wallace came into the game 95 yards from his own 1,000-yard season.
He would’ve gotten 80 yards toward that had Ryan Tannehill, who usually underthrows Wallace, not overthrown him in the second quarter with Wallace streaking behind Jets cornerback Dee Milliner.
“We got to make those plays. At that point, you look at is as we’ll just get the next one, but that’s another seven points we could have had on the board,” Wallace said. “That would [have] been a big blow to them because we go up 14-0. It’s a totally different game. They have a totally different mindset. We have a totally different mindset.
“All of those plays we missed, we are capable of making those plays,” he continued. “They are right there on our fingertips, and we lost so many games like that. We can’t play like that. We are not going to keep winning football games just letting it slip away. But that’s one play. We had so many plays in the football game that could have changed the game. We’ve got to do a better job of finishing. We have to be more hungry than we were. It was right there for the taking, and we didn’t take it. We have to be more hungry.”