Here we are again, that witching time of year.
Something that will put a chill even the bravest South Florida soul:
The Dolphins, down to their third-string quarterback, are headed into their personal house of horrors.
Nobody liked a good ghost story like Edgar Allan Poe, but even he might have objected to this much macabre.
Quoth the Raven, Never-going-to-win-here-anymore?
Yes, the Baltimore Ravens, not the Patriots, are the team that truly haunts the Dolphins. The Dolphins' recent history with the purple birds is flat-out Hitchcockian.
OK, enough of the ghoulish puns. Apologies if this writing has been frighteningly bad.
Plus, this story is disturbing enough to tell without the dramatics:
The Dolphins play here Thursday night, a town in which they last won a game in 1997. Adam Gase, the Dolphins' second-year coach, was an underclassman at Michigan State then.
Charles Harris, the Dolphins' first-round pick, was in diapers.
And the quarterback that day? Dan Marino.
In the two decades since, the Dolphins (4-2) have beaten the Ravens (3-4) just five times, regardless of the venue.
The Ravens won six of the last seven meetings, including a 27-9 beat-down in the 2008 Wild Card Round.
The Dolphins cannot figure out the Ravens, even when they have it rolling. Baltimore snapped a six-game Dolphins winning streak last year with a 38-6 thumping, one of many reasons the Ravens are still three-point favorites Thursday, even with seemingly half of their offense hurt.
An important caveat to this conversation: Matt Moore has not been a part of any of that history. He has never thrown a regular-season pass against the Ravens.
And it will be Moore under center on national television Thursday, starting his first game of the year in place of injured Jay Cutler.
Moore, as we have seen time and again, does not scare easily.
“I think as a quarterback, you’re out there, you’re in command of the offense, you can’t … You get rattled; but I just think you’ve got to keep a positive stance and a positive attitude and keep the guys going," Moore said this week. "That’s what I try to do.”
Moore is not a good fit for a horror flick. He is more of a Western guy. Think Gary Cooper with a pigskin instead of a Smith & Wesson.
Every time an injury tumbles Moore back into the spotlight, he gets called a gunslinger. And that’s OK with him.
“It’s not a bad term,” Moore said. “Guys describe guys in different ways and that seems to be the thing [for me] and I’m fine with that.”
Moore continued: “I’d like to think of it as someone that just likes to go out and compete and throws the ball around. That’s what it means to me.”
The Dolphins would need the best out of Moore this week, regardless of opponent. For the third time in as many years, the NFL has sent them on the road for their obligatory Thursday night game.
A short week and a plane ride is usually a recipe for disaster in the NFL, and Miami has not been immune. In their last two Thursday nighters, the Dolphins have been outscored 58-14. The Dolphins are looking for their first road Thursday night win since 2009.
And there’s a reason: Bodies don't have time to recover. The game-plan gets dumbed down.
Players, by and large, hate these games. But until their concerns outweigh the pile of money the league earns in broadcast fees, it is hard envisioning them gone.
“I think it is part of the game, part of the business," said Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
Added linebacker Rey Maualuga: "We're under the lights. All eyes on us. We just have to come out there and show what we can do."
Monsters usually disappear when the lights come on.
And every nightmare eventually ends.
For the Dolphins, it's long past time to wake up.
▪ Along with Cutler, Dolphins guard Anthony Steen (foot) has been ruled out of Thursday’s game. Jesse Davis is expected to start in his place. DeVante Parker, who has missed the last two games with an ankle injury, is the most notable of four Dolphins listed as questionable. The others: defensive end Andre Branch (groin), defensive tackle Jordan Phillips (ankle) and tackle Laremy Tunsil.