MIAMI GARDENS (CBSMiami) – The Miami Dolphins are theoretically still in the playoff hunt in the AFC, but after Saturday's loss to the Carolina Panthers dropped the Fins to 5-6; the margin for error for Miami is nearly zero.
The Dolphins snatched defeat from the jaws of victory Sunday after giving up a 16-point lead to the Panthers. Quarterback Cam Newton showed why he is the face of the Panthers fracnhise by leading his team back to push the Panthers' record to 8-3 on the season.
The Dolphins, continued to struggle running the football against a Panthers defensive line missing one starter and using another one coming back from injury. Miami ran the ball 17 times for 52 yards, or roughly 3.1 yards per carry.
Perhaps more troubling is the Dolphins managed a total of just one rushing first down against Carolina on Sunday. But the biggest problem was quarterback Ryan Tannehill accounted for 36 of the Dolphins' 52 total yards on the ground Sunday.
In other words, starting running back Lamar Miller and backup Daniel Thomas combined to run the ball 13 times for 16 yards, or 1.2 yards per carry, or a little more than 40 inches per carry.
Combined with Miami's pass protection allowing three more sacks of Tannehill, and it's easy to see why the Dolphins' offense has yet to score more than 27 points in a game this season and hasn't scored more than 22 points since Week 5.
Tannehill has been sacked 47 times this season in 11 games, or roughly 4.3 times per game in 2013.
In two of the Dolphins' last three games, Dolphins' running backs have combined to run 24 times for 16 yards, or .67 yards per carry, a little more than 24 inches each time either Lamar Miller or Daniel Thomas touches the ball.
The Dolphins did finally get solid downfield production from receiver Mike Wallace against the Panthers. Wallace caught five passes for 127 yards and a touchdown versus Carolina. But, he also had the final play go just off his hands as well.
The Fins are staring another losing or .500 season in the face with just five games to go this season. The Dolphins are on the road for the next two weeks against the New York Jets and the Pittsburgh Steelers before returning home to play the Patriots.
If the Dolphins lose to the Jets, the team's playoff hopes may be dashed and another long offseason will await a team that has so far come up short of lofty preseason expectations.
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