When the Miami Dolphins in the coming days break down their 23-13 defeat here on Sunday against the Houston Texans, they'll undoubtedly study several moments that, had they went differently, likely would have resulted in a victory instead of a defeat.
The Dolphins missed two field goals inside 35 yards on Sunday one of them a Dan Carpenter shank and the other one a Texans' blocked kick. Receiver Brandon Marshall dropped a pass that would have been a touchdown while the Dolphins attempted a second-half rally.
They turned the ball over inside their own 10-yard line during the first half. And then, in the second, gave up an easy 23-yard touchdown pass from Matt Schaub to Andre Johnson. This, after cutting the Texans' lead to just three.
The mistakes added up to give the Dolphins an 0-2 start. That would be bad enough in any season.
Perhaps it's worse now, given the Dolphins play five of their next six games on the road. Or, maybe it's better that way given that the defeat on Sunday was the Dolphins' 11th in their past 12 games at Sun Life Stadium, where 51,023 spectators gathered amid rows and rows of orange seats that sat empty.
"Baffling," Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said of the continued struggles at home. "I don't have any answers for it."
Sparano didn't have answers for much on Sunday. Not for his team's struggles in the red zone, where the Dolphins scored a touchdown just once in four trips. Not for the Dolphins' run defense, which faltered in the middle of the game.
And certainly not for the inexplicable defensive lapse that allowed the Texans (2-0) to cap a 63-yard, five-play drive with Johnson's 23-yard touchdown catch. Johnson caught the ball over backup cornerback Nolan Carroll, who was left alone without help from a safety.
"We had double coverage and we blew the coverage," Sparano said.
The Texans outgained the Dolphins 345 yards to 306 yards but the margin might have seemed wider because the Texans executed when it mattered most. The Dolphins didn't.
Their most costly mistake a Chad Henne interception that he threw under duress during the second quarter gave the Texans possession on the Dolphins' 6-yard line and led to the only touchdown for either team during the first half. Afterward, a sense of frustration permeated the Dolphins locker room.
"Winning cures all ills and we're kind of stuck in mud right now trying to figure out how to get everyone in this room to believe and play like they expect to win," veteran Dolphins linebacker Jason Taylor said. "Not hoping to win but expecting to win."
Taylor slammed his helmet into the bench after he and the defense allowed the Texans' that game-clinching drive in the fourth quarter. A week after allowing Patriots quarterback Tom Brady a career-high 517 yards, Schaub threw for 230 yards and two touchdowns against the Dolphins defense.
Henne, meanwhile, completed 12 of his 30 attempts for 170 yards, one touchdown and the interception. Rookie running back Daniel Thomas sparked the Dolphins offense and finished with 107 yards on 18 carries.
Inside a grim Dolphins locker room, a reporter asked linebacker Cam Wake whether the Dolphins defense was angry after its performance. Nearby, fellow linebacker Kevin Burnett shouted in affirmation.
"There's your answer," Wake said.
They weren't the only ones who were angry. Sun Life Stadium began to empty well before the final seconds ticked away. Sparano kept his answers short and curt.
Two games into the season, the Dolphins are already frustrated.
"Obviously, we didn't think we would start this way," Henne said. " This not acceptable losing games, losing games at home. We know that."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times