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Dolphins Win a Moral Victory But Lose Another Actual Game

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Moral victory? For the Miami Dolphins, who were 14-point underdogs and losers of six consecutive games before playing the Buffalo Bills, on Sunday that’s obviously one possible although not likely narrative.

“There are no moral victories,” defensive tackle Christian Wilkins said.

How about an actual victory?

Nope.

The Buffalo Bills emerged from their bye week and an apparent late wakeup call in the first half to beat the Dolphins, 26-11.

The Bills managed only 120 yards and a field goal in the first half. And it was as if the 2021 Dolphins, defense, who had allowed more points than any other team this season, came dressed as the 2020 unit that was top 5 in scoring defense.

Then the second half came and the Bills showed they remain the much better team. Buffalo finished with 351 total yards.

The Bills have beaten Miami seven consecutive games.

And the Dolphins disastrous season continues.

For the Dolphins this loss was closer than the 35-0 loss to Buffalo earlier in the season. But the point remains the same. They’re a disappointment.

The Dolphins, you should know, began with a 1-7 record when Brian Flores first took over the Dolphins in 2019. That was a tank season in which the roster was demolished to the bare studs before an apparent rebuild.

Except, here the Dolphins are two years later, and they’re 1-7 again.

So what have they accomplished?

Flores is 0-6 against Sean McDermott and the Bills the last three seasons, having been swept each of those seasons.

So where’s the progress? There is actually regression for Miami after rising to 10-6 last season. The team has already lost more games than last season.

And Sunday there was no apparent progress, with Josh Allen waving mockingly bye-bye to Wilkins as the defensive tackle jawed at the quarterback after a failed two-point conversion.

So what’s next for the Dolphins, who have clearly no significant chance to making the postseason this season?

The NFL trade deadline is Tuesday, Nov. 2.

“I don’t think this trade deadline, to me, really means anything,” Tagovailoa said after the game.

The rumors of them acquiring Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson persist and the teams reportedly talked last week, even as Flores announced Tua Tagovailoa would be the Miami starting quarterback the remainder of the season.

Well, Watson is unlikely to be traded unless one of the two teams involved blinks.

The Texans want three first round picks and other considerations.

The Dolphins want risk certainty that Watson will be available to play and that cannot come until all of Watson’s legal matters are resolved.

Like everything else about the Dolphins this season, it’s looking like a lot of sound and furry leading to an L at the end of the day.

On Sunday the Dolphins had issues lining up on offense, getting called for illegal procedure a couple of times, even having the ball snapped unexpectedly to tight end Mike Gesicki as he was in motion. And it continued in the second half.

The play-calling was disappointing as co-offensive coordinator didn’t call a pass into the end zone on either first or second down with less than one minute to play in the first half from the Buffalo 17 yard line. On third down, the ball was snapped to Gesicki for the fumble turnover.

“It was a miscommunication,” Gesicki said. “Do I look like a Jet sweep type of guy?”

Said Flores of the miscommunication: “Everyone kind of plays a role in that.”

The Dolphins actually had to revert to more standard formations later in the game, Flores said.

And, bottom line, coaches still do not trust Tagovailoa. Every week they roll out this offense that wants to live on a steady diet of slants and checkdowns and rarely attacks deep. The Dolphins finally had one such play this game, a 40-yard connection from Tagovailoa to Gesicki.

But, again, that’s the exception. Not something Dolphins fans see very often.

Just so you know, Tagovailoa has failed to play so well he sends the Watson rumors scurrying. Although he’s been solid and even good the previous two games, he was unremarkable against the Bills.

He completed 21 of 39 passes for 205 yards with 1 interception.

When the game was being decided after the teams tied at 3-3 at halftime, the Miami offense went three-and-out each of its three third-quarter possessions.

So there’s no compelling reason for Miami to turn completely away from Watson.

One last thing: The New York Jets beat the Cincinnati Bengals, 34-31 on Sunday with backup quarterback Mike White playing for the injured Zach Wilson.

The Jets have a 2-5 record.

The Dolphins are in last place in the AFC East.

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

Armando Salguero has covered the NFL since 1990 for the Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald and ESPN. He was a 2016 Associated Press Sports Editors Top 10 columnist. He is a Pro Football Hall of Fame selector and AP All-Pro team voter.

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