Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins' season goes from bad to embarrassing with loss to Chargers

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill walks to the sidelines during the first half in an NFL football game against the San Diego Chargers Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015, in San Diego.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill walks to the sidelines during the first half in an NFL football game against the San Diego Chargers Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015, in San Diego. AP

Just when you think they’ve hit rock bottom, the Dolphins’ free fall continues.

On Sunday, they were beaten up and beaten down by the Chargers. The final score: 30-14.

This wasn’t just any team handing the Dolphins a whooping. The Chargers lost 10 of 13 games entering Sunday and are among the worst teams in football.

So what does that make the Dolphins?

Bad.

Bad on offense, which had just two plays in Chargers territory in the first half.

Bad on defense, which watched Danny Woodhead score four times.

But with two games left, the Dolphins (5-9) are worse than bad. They’re irrelevant. And they are just playing out the string.

They lost three more starters to injury Sunday — Branden Albert, Mike Pouncey and Koa Misi all went down — but their issues go way beyond health.

And they might need more than one offseason to fix them all.

“To come out and play like that on both sides of the ball is unacceptable,” Ryan Tannehill said. “It’s unacceptable in every sense of the word.”

Here’s why: At no point Sunday did it feel like the Dolphins were going to win.

Not after a 12-play, 86-yard touchdown drive on San Diego’s opening possession. Not when their first eight drives ended with failure — seven punts and the end of the half.

Not after Philip Rivers found Woodhead for touchdowns not once, not twice, but three times through the air. And not when Woodhead scored his rushing touchdown, either.

Not after Reshad Jones picked off Rivers with the Dolphins down just six points — because Jones gave it right back, fumbling the ensuing return.

It’s easy to get too caught up in stats, but Sunday’s final box score aptly captured how one-sided this was.

The Chargers (4-10) had 26 first downs. The Dolphins had 13.

The Chargers converted 9 of 14 third downs. The Dolphins failed on 12 of their 14 attempts.

The Chargers churned out 442 yards. The Dolphins managed just 231.

And the Chargers had the ball for nearly 18 minutes more than the Dolphins.

“We just could never establish the run game and it affected everything else that we did,” coach Dan Campbell said. “We couldn’t stop them, we couldn’t stay on the field on offense and it cost us.”

For the second time in as many weeks, Lamar Miller was the forgotten man. The Dolphins went to him early and then buried him late.

Miller, who’s arguably been the Dolphins’ best offensive weapon this year, didn’t have a carry in the fourth quarter. And he wasn’t particularly happy about it afterwards.

When asked whether he was frustrated with his usage Sunday, Miller responded:

“Yeah, because I feel like I could help this team win. I’m sure everybody wants to be on the field, competing with their teammates.”

Miller finished with 12 yards on 9 carries. That’s nothing new. He’s had 20 or more rushing attempts in a game just twice in his four years in Miami.

“I don’t got no words to say,” Miller responded, when asked if he is happy with his role.

The only Dolphins player who did much talking at all after the game was Tannehill, who completed 20 of 34 passes for 216 yards — the bulk of which coming in mop-up time.

Tannehill took a beating again Sunday, sacked three times behind an offensive line that was without three starters. He acknowledged he was “a little sore” and had a bandage on his throwing hand.

“I’m still out there to play to win,” Tannehill said. “You only get 16 regular season games a year and you want to take advantage of every single one. You want to build off of the things we’ve done well and correct the things we haven’t done well.”

Tannehill added: “Obviously, we know it’s our last two games, but I think we need to find a way to play well and build off of that for next year.”

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

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