Let’s be clear: The Dolphins doomed themselves Sunday.
You don’t turn the ball over five times and commit a ghastly 17 penalties without playing some awful football.
By most available metrics, they deserved to lose to Tampa Bay.
And yet, a reasonable argument can be made that they still would have won if not for some objectively awful officiating.
Two calls in particular cost the Dolphins six points in a game that was tied in the final minute.
The first: A phantom offensive pass interference call on Julius Thomas that erased an Anthony Fasano touchdown catch (the Dolphins had to settle for a field goal).
And the second: Jordan Phillips’ sack of Ryan Fitzpatrick at the goal line that should have been a safety, but was ruled down at the 1 both after the play and after review.
“I thought it was a safety,” Dolphins defensive end Cam Wake said.
“It was definitely a safety,” defensive tackle Davon Godchaux said.
Added receiver Jarvis Landry: “I mean, again, the referees have been trying to get involved. Even on the safety, they say first contact was made by our guy but it was really made by their guy, which should have been a safety. That turns the game around even more.”
Two other plays helped determine the game:
The officials decided Damien Williams was stopped short of the sticks on a fourth-and-1 run at the Bucs’ 34 midway through the fourth quarter.
“I felt like we [got it],” Williams said. “I felt like we had the push. But it was a bad spot for me.”
And one other reason for the Dolphins to rightly complain:
Jermon Bushrod was called for holding on a would-be 48-yard completion from Jay Cutler to Jarvis Landry in the second quarter. But Bushrod barely turned the Buccaneers defender on the play, and far worse is allowed to play on in every NFL game.
The Dolphins would have been easily in field goal range had the play stood. Instead, they had to punt.
Still, the Dolphins know they cannot complain too much, given how poorly they played Sunday.
“I feel like we’re beating a dead horse over and over and over with the penalties,” Williams said. “It’s starting to jump on our back. We came back. But at the end of the day, that’s what jumped on our back, the penalties.”