We can end the charade.
The Dolphins are officially eliminated from postseason contention.
Miami’s long-shot dream died Sunday when the Chiefs predictably outclassed the Dolphins 29-13 in front of a half-empty Arrowhead Stadium.
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And the reasons why should surprise no one.
Boneheaded (and ill-timed) penalties.
Poor ball security.
A sputtering red-zone offense.
And a defense that couldn’t stop anyone.
(Hey, at least they’re consistent, right?)
Put it all together and the Dolphins (6-9) are on the outside of the NFL playoffs looking in for the 14th time in 16 years.
They will also finish with a losing record for the eighth time since 2006.
“It sucks man,” Dolphins center Mike Pouncey said. “It sucks. I felt like we had every opportunity to make the playoffs this year, and we just pissed it away.”
Did they ever.
The Dolphins needed a near-perfect confluence of events this weekend to play a meaningful season finale.
And, if the Eagles beat the Raiders on Monday, they would have gotten it.
Of course, this was all predicated on the Dolphins taking care of business. But at every important crossroads the past two months, they have taken the wrong turn.
Sunday’s loss was Miami’s seven in its past nine weeks. No team can overcome that and make the playoffs — even in the terrible AFC.
The Chiefs (9-6), meanwhile, celebrated more than a victory on Christmas Eve. Sunday’s result clinched the AFC West championship and ensured Kansas City would host a playoff game the first weekend in January.
By then, the Dolphins will be well onto 2018, with plenty to fix.
And one ugly sequence illustrated all that went wrong Sunday — and for much of the season.
The Dolphins, down 13 points, had the ball inside the Chiefs’ red zone when their last real chance to get back in the game fell apart in three plays.
The first: Guard Ted Larsen committed an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty on a second-down incompletion.
The second: Jay Cutler overthrew receiver Jakeem Grant with a screen pass on third-and-24. Jarvis Landry was so incensed by either the play-call or execution (or perhaps both), he immediately wheeled around and started yelling at coach Adam Gase, who barked right back.
And the third: Cody Parkey’s 48-yard field-goal attempt into a swirling wind fluttered wide left, missing for just the second time this year.
Game over. Season over. Time to start thinking about the draft.
Needs? They are everywhere on defense after the Dolphins allowed more than 400 yards. The Chiefs converted 8-of-16 third downs and broke an absurd number of tackles.
“We just didn’t execute,” Dolphins corner Bobby McCain said. “We didn’t execute, get off the field.”
But the offense was not great either, scoring just one touchdown and going 0 of 8 on third downs.
Jay Cutler was not bad, but he was not great either. He completed 19 of 38 passes for 286 yards and a touchdown.
But Cutler fumbled again — for the fifth time in two games — and Landry and Kenny Stills both had the football ripped from their grasp Sunday.
The Dolphins have no problem gaining yards in the first half. They just had trouble finishing off long drives. Two would-be touchdowns were instead Parkey field goals, in part because of a puzzling decision to throw red-zone passes to new tight end A.J. Derby.
In fact, Miami’s only touchdown came on a long play. Grant caught a short pass, broke two tackles and raced 65 yards to the end zone.
Still, the Dolphins went to the half behind yet again because their defense could not get off the field. Travis Kelce caught a touchdown pass, Kareem Hunt scored on the ground, and Kansas City led by a touchdown at the break.
The lead — and the Dolphins’ misery — would only grow from there.
“It’s tough,” Gase said. “This is what you play for. We’ve had a couple of weeks here in a row where we’ve had good opportunities to do something with the opportunity that we had. Instead, we just came out, didn’t perform well, and didn’t get it done.”