|How bad can they be? Dolphins are favored Sunday|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 28 November 2007 12:07|
They may be destined to finish with the worst record in NFL history, but the Dolphins have lost six games by three points apiece, and they're actually favored Sunday against the New York Jets.
``We're way better than our record,'' running back Jesse Chatman said Wednesday.
The Dolphins' record is the league's worst to start a season since 2001, when the Detroit Lions lost their first 12 games before winning. Miami is in danger of becoming the first team to go 0-16, eclipsing the current standard for futility set by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who went 0-14 in their expansion season in 1976.
Remaining winless for three months has required considerable creativity. The Dolphins held Pittsburgh scoreless for 59 minutes Monday and lost. They scored 31 points at Cleveland and lost.
In the first half at Philadelphia, they intercepted three passes, returned a punt for a touchdown and forced Donovan McNabb from the game. Still they lost.
Cam Cameron keeps coming close to his first win as an NFL head coach. His Dolphins were shut out at Pittsburgh and lost by only 3-0. They scored 28 points against the Jets and lost by three. They took Washington to overtime and lost by three.
``We're not as bad as everybody says we are,'' linebacker Joey Porter said. ``Each week we go out there and put ourselves in situations to win the game, but at crunch time, we've got to find a way to make the right decisions and come away with the game. We've got to make those key tackles and key catches and key blocks, and do what it takes to win.''
Miami's biggest blowout was a 49-28 loss to New England. In the four games since the Dolphins have allowed a total of 46 points, losing by a combined 19 points.
Another close game is likely Sunday against the woeful Jets (2-9). Miami is favored by 1 1/2 points.
``Are we? I'm surprised,'' Chatman said. ``Hey, that's a good thing.''
Porter appreciates the faith of oddsmakers.
``It means everybody out there isn't as dumb as they look,'' Porter said. ``Some people still believe.''
To the Dolphins' credit, they haven't complained about lousy luck, even though they may lead the league in that department. Running back Ronnie Brown was hurt on an interception. Quarterback Trent Green was hurt on a botched end-around. Linebacker Zach Thomas was hurt in a car accident after a loss.
``We've been unlucky,'' Porter said, ``but that's part of this game.''
Every decision seems to haunt Miami, especially those made during recent offseasons. The Dolphins have been beaten by two quarterbacks they discarded, A.J. Feeley and Daunte Culpepper. They have started three quarterbacks themselves, and their current QB, rookie John Beck, has yet to lead the offense to a point in two games.
Sometimes the awfulness is difficult to absorb, such as one disastrous play at Pittsburgh where Miami committed two holding penalties, lost a fumble and lost running back Ricky Williams to a season-ending injury.
Moments like that strengthen the Dolphins' case as the worst team ever. But the competition is fierce:
-The 1976 Buccaneers were outscored 412-125, an average of 20.5 points per game. They allowed 6.7 yards per play and 183 yards rushing per game.
-The 1981 Baltimore Colts won twice, but they allowed NFL records of 533 points (33.3 per game) and 6,793 yards.
-The 1991 Indianapolis Colts (1-15) scored only three touchdowns rushing, even with Eric Dickerson in the backfield, and totaled 143 points.
-The 1996 New York Jets (1-15) gave up 55 touchdowns and 454 points, lost 16 fumbles and threw 30 interceptions.
When compared with all of the above cases, the '07 Dolphins can claim statistical superiority. Even this season they rank ahead of half the league in total defense and rushing offense, and in a chart of 36 categories for offense, defense and special teams, they're not last in any department.
They just can't win.