BALTIMORE—The best way for the Dolphins to move on from this debacle against the Ravens is to destroy all evidence that it ever took place.
Throw this one out, enjoy the long weekend and see if this team comes back refreshed and ready for a big second half of the season. No need for Miami to pack up its gear after a 40-0 loss in Baltimore. Just leave it in the locker room.
To some extent, that’s probably what the Dolphins will do. One thing this team’s done exceptionally well under Adam Gase is move on, and the players are about to get a much-needed five days away from the facility before returning to prepare for next Sunday night’s home game against the Raiders.
“Just put this game behind us and move forward, regroup,” safety Reshad Jones said. “This is the closest thing we’re gonna get to a bye week, so we’ve gotta use this time to take care of our bodies and regroup and come back ready to play football.”
The only thing that might linger from this one is a possible suspension to linebacker Kiko Alonso, who unleashed a vicious hit to Joe Flacco’s head on a quarterback slide late in the first half. That turned into a full-on melee, including John Harbaugh and Alonso screaming at each other. The hit took Flacco out of the game, but that didn’t make things any easier on the Dolphins.
Bad nights happen, especially going on the road after a quick turnaround. And the Dolphins have had a lot of disaster games in Baltimore, where they haven’t won since 1997. This team torments them, and Thursday’s game makes it seven out of eight for the Ravens over the past decade.
The Dolphins punted on their first five possessions, and the fact that they even moved far enough down the field for Cody Parkey to try a 50-yard field goal late in the first half was a relative success. Parkey, who’d made all eight of his attempts this season and had never missed from 50-plus yards in his career, went wide right.
Another highlight came early in the third quarter, when Miami worked its way to a third-and five. That’s right, that alone qualified as progress. At least it wasn’t third-and-a-million. Nonetheless, it ended on an incomplete pass.
“We couldn’t get it going,” right guard Jermon Bushrod said. “We didn’t have any success. We barely crossed the 50.”
There was so little happening in the offense that tight end Julius Thomas’ two catches for two yards at halftime was looking pretty good. That actually placed him second on the team in catches and fourth in receiving yards. Jarvis Landry was at minus-four yards on one catch despite being targeted six times, and Damien Williams had one for negative yardage as well.
There was another blip late in the third quarter when Moore led the Dolphins from their own 17 across midfield, and by the start of the fourth quarter had them up to the Baltimore 34. That drive collapsed on Moore’s pick-six to linebacker C.J. Mosley, who ran it back 63 yards for a 26-0 lead.
“We’re just better than what we put out there today,” Bushrod said. “I guess we all took our turns in not getting our job done, and it got out of control quick. It’s not a good feeling.”
Moore threw away another one in the fourth quarter, this time a 50-yard touchdown by Jimmy Smith, and trudged off the field without so much as glancing Gase’s direction.
It was Moore’s first start in place of Jay Cutler, whom he replaced late in Sunday’s game after he suffered multiple fractured ribs. Moore was the hero that afternoon, leading Miami back from a 28-14 deficit to win it in the final minute, but he was nowhere near that in Baltimore.
Moore finished 25 of 44 for 176 yards, and the offense sputtered into six three-and-outs under his watch.
Moore deserves one more game. Cutler will surely want to play against Oakland even if he’s not back to full strength, but the Dolphins need to know which one of these guys is the best quarterback to lead them on a quest for the playoffs. Half a game against the Jets and one start on a short week isn’t a thorough enough vetting of the Moore option.
Playoffs? Yes, even after a loss this ugly. This is where having perspective is a must.
Miami has survived three brutal months going back to Ryan Tannehill’s season-ending knee injury early in training camp, and is still in reasonably good position at 4-3 after losing in Baltimore. Last year’s team was one game worse at this juncture.
The Dolphins will wake up Friday morning still tied for the sixth playoff spot, and given everything that’s happened to them, they’ll take that.
“We’ve got resilient guys in this locker room,” Jones said. “We’ll be able to bounce back and be ready for the rest of the season.”
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