The Dolphin fantasy was nice while it lasted. The Thanksgiving Day loss to Dallas proves that when it comes to playing the better teams, the Dolphins are still just a really good sparring partner.
They hit the Cowboys on the chin several times, but couldn’t knock ‘em out. Dallas shrugged off two early turnovers, and still led the Dolphins at halftime. Even when the Fins rallied to regain the lead twice, Dallas bullied its way down the field when it mattered to kick the winning field goal, leaving the upset-minded Dolphins no time for another rally.
The Dolphins deserve mucho credit for playing inspired football after starting 0 and 7, but beating up on the Chiefs, Redskins, and Bills is not the same as trying to beat a good football team on its home field. To do that, the Dolphins need more difference-makers who can dominate their positions. Receivers who catch passes in stride and take them to the house. Defenders who will sack Tony Romo when they get a hand on him. Offensive linemen who will bulldoze tacklers so that the Dolphins are the team running out the clock, instead of handing it back to Dallas after what felt like an inevitable three and out.
Playing with heart makes you commendable. Playing with talent makes you dangerous. Dolphin owner Stephen Ross knows the difference. In a few weeks, we’ll see what he does about it.