Trying to Bounce Back
St. Louis, MO - Still hoping to make the playoffs, the Miami Dolphins likely can't afford their play or any individual attitudes to further unravel in the final weeks of the season.
The upstart Dolphins have a good chance of bouncing back from their first defeat in a month when they visit the lowly St. Louis Rams on Sunday.
Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Dolphins –7.5 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 77% of bets for this game have been placed on Dolphins –7.5 (View NFL Football bet percentages).
Looking to sweep its season series with defending AFC champion New England, Miami (6-5) fell short last Sunday, losing 48-28 at home to the Patriots. It snapped a four-game winning streak for Miami, which fell into a tie with Buffalo for third place in the AFC East, two games back of the division-leading New York Jets.
"We have five games left,'' first-year coach Tony Sparano said. "To the best of my knowledge, nobody's told us that we don't have a chance right now. The way our division is, anything can happen, as we know. So we're going to work our tails off right now to get better in these next five weeks.''
The Dolphins, one game out of a wild-card spot after going 1-15 in 2007, didn't play or act like a team flirting with the postseason. Miami allowed season highs in points and total yardage (530), and completely fell apart late, drawing three personal-foul penalties.
Linebacker Channing Crowder was ejected for a scuffle with a Patriots player and veteran Joey Porter was whistled for two penalties and refused to leave the game as Sparano had instructed him to at one point.
"These guys are competitors,'' Sparano said. "At the same time, there's a right and a wrong way to do things. We have a standard here right now that we're trying to put in place. And for 10 solid games we've done that. We kind of got off the path a little bit for about eight minutes and that's not good enough."
Defensive linemen Vonnie Holliday and Jason Ferguson apologized for their teammates' emotional lapses and Porter did the same for his actions, leaving the Dolphins ready to focus on playing four of its final five contests on the road.
"We've got to put it behind us and go after this St. Louis team,'' linebacker Matt Roth said. "I think we're mature enough. It's a loss, its not a make-or-break. We've still got five games and this is a big game coming up.''
Miami can't afford any more setbacks, but one appears unlikely against St. Louis (2-9), which has lost five in a row since running back Steven Jackson injured his thigh in a win over Dallas on Oct. 19. Miami has won seven of the last eight meetings with the Rams franchise, including a 31-14 victory on Oct. 24, 2004 - the teams' most recent matchup.
After leading on three different occasions through 2 1/2 quarters against the Patriots, Miami hopes to get out early and maintain an advantage versus St. Louis, which has been outscored 123-13 in the first halves of its last four games.
The Dolphins, though, will face this contest and the rest of the season without leading receiver Greg Camarillo, who suffered a knee injury against New England.
"It hurts to lose Greg, but I think we'll be fine,'' running back Patrick Cobbs said of Camarillo, in the middle of a career season with 55 catches for 613 yards. "I think this team can pick it up and we can definitely move forward.''
Chad Pennington was 24-for-41 for a season-high 341 yards with three touchdowns and an interception against New England, but the Dolphins were held to 66 rushing yards. Ronnie Brown had 37 yards on 10 carries after rushing for 101 a week earlier against Oakland.
Miami, which had allowed an average of 16.7 points during its four-game winning streak, looks for a better defensive effort against the NFL's lowest-scoring offense. St. Louis is averaging just 13.4 points, and has scored one total touchdown in its last three games.
The Rams posted 207 total yards - including a season-low 14 on the ground - and committed four turnovers in a 27-3 loss to Chicago last Sunday.
"I will do anything I can to help these guys be successful. Anything,'' Rams coach Jim Haslett said. "But I can't tackle for them anymore. I can't take care of the football.''
Quarterback Marc Bulger suffered a concussion early in the contest and did not return, but is expected to start against Miami.
Bulger has completed 58.2 percent of his passes for 1,679 yards with seven touchdowns and eight interceptions, but continues to miss Jackson, who has 525 rushing yards in seven games but hasn't played since Nov. 2.
Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
MIAMI is 4-1 against the spread versus ST LOUIS since 1992
MIAMI is 4-1 straight up against ST LOUIS since 1992
3 of 5 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
There were no past matchups in this series during this time period
All games played at ST LOUIS since 1992
ST LOUIS is 1-1 against the spread versus MIAMI since 1992
ST LOUIS is 1-1 straight up against MIAMI since 1992
2 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Key Player Injuries
[CB] Mike Lehan IR - Hamstring - 10/24/08
[OG] Donald Thomas IR - Ankle - 09/10/08
[WR] Tab Perry IR - Achilles - 07/27/08
[LB] Chris Draft missed last game, "?" - Foot - 11/16/08
[WR] Dante Hall IR - Ankle - 11/03/08
[OT] Orlando Pace is out indefinitely - Knee - 11/17/08
[WR] Drew Bennett IR - Foot - 11/03/08
[DE] Eric Moore missed last game, "?" - Neck - 11/16/08
[OL] Mark Setterstrom IR - Knee - 08/17/08
[RB] Brian Leonard IR - Shoulder - 10/13/08
[CB] Ron Bartell injured last game, doubtful - Knee - 11/18/08
[CB] Ricky Manning, Jr. IR - Foot - 10/13/08
[OT] Brandon Gorin IR - Shoulder - 08/18/08
[TE] Randy McMichael IR - Ankle - 10/06/08
(!) [RB] Steven Jackson is downgraded to expected to miss - Thigh - 11/17/08
[CB] Tye Hill missed last game, "?" - Knee - 11/16/08
[CB] Justin King IR - Toe - 08/16/08
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Posted: 11/26/08 10:03PM ET