If the Dolphins’ flag-fest had you frustrated Sunday night, just imagine how Adam Gase felt.
Gase has a winning record as a Dolphins coach for one reason above all others: His teams have kept their poise in close games and won when the opposition lost theirs.
That did not happen against the Raiders.
Miami is not good enough to be undisciplined, and in its 27-24 loss to Oakland, it was just that — particularly in crunch time.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
The Dolphins committed 11 accepted penalties for 107 yards Sunday, including five in the fourth quarter.
“Oh, it was at the worst times,” Gase said. “We'd start a series out and Damien [Williams] has a huge play and we've got a holding call and we're on the 20. Who knows, maybe if we don't get the holding call he gets tackled at 10 yards, but we'll take, so it's not first-and-12 or whatever.”
Gase referred to a play with 12:46 left in regulation and the Dolphins down four. Williams caught a short pass, got the right edge and raced down the sidelines. It was a big-gainer. And it was wiped from the record because Jarvis Landry held. The Dolphins’ drive stalled immediately thereafter.
But that was just the start of it.
Three minutes later, on another possession that began with good field position, Kenyan Drake ran for four yards on first down. A Mike Pouncey hold turned second-and-6 into first-and-20, and doomed another Dolphins possession.
Defense got into the act, too, with a pair of secondary penalties that all but gift-wrapped Oakland’s game-sealing touchdown. The Raiders had first-and-goal at the 3 thanks to a Xavien Howard defensive pass interference call. Howard deserved the flag. He mugged his man.
But the Raiders were only in that position because of a highly questionable flag thrown on the play before. The Raiders converted third-and-6 when Derek Carr connected with Seth Roberts for 29 yards along the right sideline. But the refs tacked on 15 more by saying Reshad Jones illegally hit a defenseless receiver – a debatable call, to say the least. Jones said after the game that there was nothing he could have done differently on the play, and Gase seemed to agree Monday.
“I don't know,” Gase said of the call. “I'm still kind of trying to figure out what happened on that one. But I'll talk to the guys I need to talk to just to get clarification on that. I haven't heard back from that yet.”
Despite all of those gaffes, the Dolphins still had a slight chance to make it a game late, but Jermon Bushrod all but ended that by holding on fourth-and-9, wiping out a 14-yard completion to Julius Thomas.
The Dolphins are now tied with Buffalo as the league’s eight-most penalized team, with an average of 7.5 accepted per game. And the problem is getting worse getting worse. Miami has been called for 27 accepted penalties in the last three games.
“I think some of them are preventable, obviously,” Gase said. “Just use better technique. When we get tied up with a guy sometimes, we just have to learn how to disengage at the right time when a guy's pulling away from you. You can't keep tugging at them. Some of it is we have to find that balance with when we make our cuts sometimes, when the line feels the running back's going to be going a certain direction, if we cut too fast, if we don't press it enough and all of the sudden there's a quick jerk back and the offensive lineman disengages with the offensive lineman and it's just unexpected for them. That's why the whole running back/O-line is kind of tied together. You have to work together really well to have a good run game.”