Miami Dolphins

Two golden opportunities, two wasted chances will haunt Dolphins after 27-24 loss to Raiders

Miami Dolphins Jarvis Landry (14) scores a third quarter touchdown as Oakland Raiders NaVorro Bowman (53) fails to stop him at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, November 5, 2017.
Miami Dolphins Jarvis Landry (14) scores a third quarter touchdown as Oakland Raiders NaVorro Bowman (53) fails to stop him at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, November 5, 2017. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

Blame, there was plenty to go around Sunday night.

The Dolphins lost the game — and we might ultimately say their season — 27-24 to the Raiders for a good many reasons.

Kenyan Drake fumbled in the red zone.

The Raiders converted 8 of 13 third downs.

Derek Carr completed 21 of 29 passes for 300 yards.

Marshawn Lynch ran for two touchdowns.

The Dolphins committed 11 penalties (including a hold by Jermon Bushrod on a fourth-down conversion late).

Kiko Alonso could not cover Jared Cook (who had 126 yards on nine catches).

Reshad Jones an ugly night.

Mike Pouncey did too.

But here’s the No. 1 reason the Dolphins are 4-4 instead of 5-3.

Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase speaks to the media after the Miami Dolphins are defeated by the Oakland Raiders at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday, November 5, 2017.

Twice in the fourth quarter, the Dolphins defense gave its offense the ball near midfield, down just four points.

And each time, the Dolphins went three-and-out.

Finally, the defense could bend no more, and broke fully.

Derek Carr directed a late six-play, 87-yard touchdown drive to seal the game — capped by Lynch’s second touchdown. If one was to assess responsibility for that drive, it would be roughly 80 percent due to Dolphins breakdowns, and 20 percent to questionable officiating.

Miami Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler speaks to the media after the Miami Dolphins are defeated by the Oakland Raiders at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday, November 5, 2017.

Adam Gase was slow on a challenge flag on a clear drop by Michael Crabtree. And the Jones was called for a bogus unnecessary roughness call on Seth Roberts.

On the very next play, Xavien Howard mugged Crabtree at the Dolphins’ 3, and the game, for all intents and purposes, was over.

And, is it turned out, so was the Dolphins’ 12-game winning streak in games decided by seven points or fewer.

Jay Cutler, playing two weeks after cracking two ribs, later threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Julius Thomas, turning a comfortable Raiders win into a close one.

Damien Williams, Miami Dolphins RB, is frustrated they lost in prime time again to the Oakland Raiders.

But when Amari Cooper cradled Cody Parkey’s onsides kick, the game was over.

Cutler, it should be said, was excellent Sunday. In fact, he has never been better in a Dolphins uniform.

Cutler completed 34 of 42 passes for 311 yards, three touchdowns and did not turn the ball over once. His passer rating was 121.3.

It was an offensive explosion compared to Week 8, when the Dolphins were blanked by the Ravens. But Damien Williams ensured there would be no shutout early when he pin-balled off two would-be tacklers and leaped into the end zone, capping an impressive 10-yard touchdown catch and run.

Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins WR, talks about the difficulty of winning when penalties keep you from advancing.

But like much of Miami’s first half, nothing went to plan. Parkey plunked the extra point off the upright, turning a seven-point play into a six-point play.

Cutler was sharp after missing the previous game with a rib injury, completing his first 16 passes. But the Dolphins should have had more than nine points to show for their 175 first-half passing yards.

And they would have if Drake had not fumbled in the red zone, snuffing out a promising drive.

Julius Thomas, Miami Dolphins TE, talks to the media about how 11 penalties can only hurt you in their defeat to the Oakland Raiders.

Carr, meanwhile, was lights out — particularly when throwing to Cook. He targeted Alonso early and often — with great success. Cook had over 100 yards in the first half alone.

And Johnny Holton leapt over Jones for a 44-yard touchdown catch, it helped send the Dolphins to the locker room trailing at the break for the seventh time in eight games.

There was back-and-forth in the second half. Lynch tore through the entire Dolphins’ defense, fooling Michael Thomas badly on the way to a 22-yard touchdown run.

But Jarvis Landry answered right back with a six-yard touchdown catch, his fourth score in five games, on a drive fueled by a 42-yard run by Kenyan Drake.

Landry would later set the record for most catches by any NFL player through four seasons (the old record was 342).

Those stats would all feel hollow, however, because no Dolphin could make the play when the team needed it the most.

Adam H. Beasley: 305-376-3565, @AdamHBeasley

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