Pats can't count on Dolphins flop this year

Pats can't count on Dolphins flop this year
December 20, 2011, 1:27 pm
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The Dolphins could lay claim to the title of "Best Bad Team in the League."A far cry from the 1972 edition of the Dolphins that didn't lose a game and hasn't lost a chance to remind folks of it, either. Still, it's something for Miami to hang its hat on. And for the Patriots, it's something to be wary of. Newly-installed as the AFC's No. 1 seed (after the Steelers loss to San Fran Monday night), all the Patriots have to do is rip past two AFC East opponents during the holidays to protect that seed. If they do that and win a playoff game, the AFC Championship will be staged at Gillette Stadium on January 22nd. But the Dolphins could be a Christmas Eve irritant. They got a win over Buffalo last week for interim head coach Todd Bowles, and the truth is that they never quit on Bowles' predecessor Tony Sparano. Here's a fun picture of Dolphins owner Stephen Ross to look at while pondering the head coaching change. They are 5-9 but lost four of those games by a field goal or less. And those tight losses came to Denver, the Giants, Dallas and Cleveland. (Not that Cleveland's a juggernaut but I can't mention the other three that are mildly impressive and the loss that isn't . . . know what I mean?) They are 4-2 since November 13.Last January, Miami memorably quit in the season finale at Gillette. Waddling to the finish line, Miami fell 38-7 to end the season at 7-9.Neither Wes Welker nor Deion Branch played. Tom Brady played into the third quarter then sat down, yet the Patriots gained 502 yards. Even Taylor Price caught three balls. The Pats were up 38-0 before Miami narrowed that gap with two minutes left. But the pride Miami played without last season seems to be present now. And that's why, if the Patriots are going to end up the No. 1 seed, the Dolphins are a team to be wary of.