Miami Dolphins

Different QB, same woeful blocking as Dolphins crushed by Cowboys, fall to 0-3

Hey, at least they kept it close.

That’s about all the good you can say about the Dolphins, who are 0-3 for the first time since 2011.

Early in the second half of Sunday’s 31-6 loss to the Cowboys, the Dolphins only trailed by just four points. They looked better than they had at any point this season.

And then ...

Dak Prescott caught fire.

Amari Cooper out-played Xavien Howard (whose rough day ended with a late ejection).

Ezekiel Elliott started running downhill.

And all the good the Dolphins’ offense did in the first half was erased by a brutal third quarter.

The lessons:

This team is not nearly good enough to overcome mistakes.

And it doesn’t particularly matter who starts at quarterback when there’s no blocking.

Josh Rosen, starting Sunday for the first time as a Miami Dolphin, got a reminder of that, as he was constantly harassed and thrice sacked in second half.

An already depleted offensive line took two more hits Sunday, with Jesse Davis (arm) and Danny Isidora (foot) leaving the game due to injury. Neither returned.

And once the Cowboys got going, they beat the brakes off Miami.

At the midway point of the fourth quarter, the Cowboys had nearly as many second-half points (14) as the Dolphins had second-half yards (15).

Rosen, who was hit so often that the refs pulled him from the game at one point for a mandatory concussion test, finished the day 18 of 39 for 200 yards. He had a touchdown dropped for the second time in as many weeks.

Just how bad has the offense been this year? The Dolphins are on pace to score 85 — which would obliterate the NFL record for fewest points in a season (140, Seahawks, 1992).

They converted just 3 of 15 third-down tries Sunday and were 1-for-3 on fourth down.

But they were not alone in their stinkiness.

All three sides of the ball have been odoriferous through three weeks. According to Elias, the Dolphins’ point differential of minus-117 through three games is the most in modern-day NFL, and second all-time behind the 1922 Louisville Brecks (minus-134 points) and the 1923 Rochester Jeffersons (minus-122).

Unless things change in a big way, this could end up as the NFL’s worst team, at least since the merger.

There have been just four winless teams in the Super Bowl era: the 1976 Buccaneers (who, as CBS Radio’s Damon Amendolara pointed out on Twitter Sunday, were minus-48 through three games), the 2008 Lions (minus-54) and the 2017 Browns (minus-20).

“I am concerned with the defense.” Dolphins defensive back Bobby McCain said. “Run defense, pass defense, it doesn’t matter. We give up 31 points, we give up 43 points, we give up [59] points, that is what I am concerned about. It’s not one phase of the game. Defensively, we got our ass whooped.”

Particularly in the second half. The Dolphins allowed 21 points and 272 yards after halftime. On the season, Miami has been outscored 68-0 in the final two quarters.

Prescott did much of the work while the game was in doubt, with a touchdown rushing and a touchdown passing (to Cooper) on the Cowboys’ first two drives of the second half.

And when Tony Pollard ran 16 yards for a late touchdown, it gave the Cowboys two 100-yard rushers: Elliott and Pollard.

We should have known early on that this wasn’t Miami’s day. The Dolphins out-played the Cowboys in the first half — and still went to the break down.

That’s because Jason Sanders missed a 47-yard field goal and Kenyan Drake fumbled the ball inside the Cowboys’ 10.

“We had a lot of opportunities,” said Dolphins coach Brian Flores, who still has not won a game as an NFL head coach. “A missed field goal. We were offsides on the onsides [kick] recovery. We had drops, a fumble, dropped touchdowns, dropped interceptions.

“You can overcome one of two of those, but put six, seven, eight of those together, they were plays that we could make, period.”

Added Drake: “In that situation I have to understand that ball security is the most important thing.”

But there were silver linings. Rosen looked in control. Michael Deiter played well at left tackle after Davis injured his arm. And McCain picked off Prescott.

After the break, however, the wheels fell off — like they have all year.

“We’ve got to play all four quarters,” said Howard, who surrendered two touchdown passes to Cooper. “First [half] we did OK, second [half] we came out there and played like s---.”

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