Miami Dolphins

Dolphins need help from Denver in playoff quest

Miami Dolphins DeVante Parker can't grab the ball as Baltimore Ravens Lardarius Webb intercepts the ball in the endzone in the second quarter at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, MD on Sun., Dec. 4, 2016.
Miami Dolphins DeVante Parker can't grab the ball as Baltimore Ravens Lardarius Webb intercepts the ball in the endzone in the second quarter at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, MD on Sun., Dec. 4, 2016. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

Sunday’s loss knocked the Dolphins out of a playoff seed and left Miami needing help to secure its first postseason berth since 2008.

The Dolphins, 7-5 and seventh in the conference, trail current wild-card teams Kansas City (9-3) and Denver (8-4).

The good news for Miami: Denver has a difficult remaining schedule: at Titans, Patriots, at Chiefs and the Raiders at home.

The bad news: Catching Kansas City seems improbable. The Chiefs host the Raiders, Titans, Broncos and then finish the season at the Chargers. Even if the Dolphins win their final four, Kansas City would need to go 1-3 for Miami to beat out the Chiefs.

And even though the Dolphins would win at least one hypothetical tiebreaker with Denver, they wouldn’t win all of them.

The Dolphins could win a tiebreaker with Denver if the Dolphins win their final three AFC East games (and lose to Arizona) and Denver goes 2-2. That would give Miami a better conference record than Denver.

But Denver would win some other tiebreaker scenarios with Miami.

INJURY UPDATE

▪ Coach Adam Gase said “there is a chance” that linebacker Kiko Alonso could play Sunday after surgery to repair his broken right thumb.

Returning that quickly from that type of surgery — which requires casting — would be ambitious. But Alonso wants to play and will see if that’s realistic.

▪ Gase said he’s not sure when Mike Pouncey will be available but remains hopeful he will play again this season. Pouncey has missed three games with a hip injury.

Branden Albert, Miami Dolphins offensive lineman, says the team "got punched in the mouth today", after they were defeated by the Baltimore Ravens on Dec. 4, 2016.

“Everything I heard is there’s a great chance he can come back,” Gase said. “If we didn’t think he could come back, he wouldn’t be on the roster.”

▪ Defensive end Jason Jones rejoined the team after a two-week NFL suspension that stemmed from an offseason arrest for operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

▪ Jay Ajayi averaged 5.1 yards on 12 carries against Baltimore’s stiff run defense, and Gase said he called six additional runs but that the play was changed before the snap “because they gave us the look we needed” to switch to a pass. He said it’s difficult to stick with the run when facing a large deficit.

▪ Gase wasn’t pleased that several Dolphins had trouble keeping their footing on Sunday. Receiver Jarvis Landry changed his cleats after the first quarter.

“That should have been dealt with long before we started the game,” Gase said. “If we weren’t ready for that, that’s just bad ball.”

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill talks about the team's loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Dec. 4, 2016.

▪ The Dolphins continue to have faith in Andrew Franks — they say they haven’t brought in a kicker for a tryout all season — but his longer field goals remain an issue.

He missed from 44 yards and is 5 for 8 in his career from 40 to 49 and 1 for 3 over 50.

The Dolphins opted to punt on a fourth-and-10 from the Ravens’ 38, down 14-0, instead of trying a 55-yard field goal, and Baltimore then marched 88 yards for its third touchdown.

In Franks’ defense, he’s 20 for 22 in his career on field goals under 40 yards and has made all 28 extra points this season, a kick that’s no longer automatic.

Related stories from Miami Herald

  Comments