- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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What it means: The Dolphins continue to struggle with consistency. Miami lost its fifth game in six tries to fall to 4-5 on the season. This was perhaps the Dolphins’ worst loss of the season, and their playoff hopes took a big hit. Miami fell behind early, 15-0, in the first half and had to fight back the entire game. The Dolphins got a brief lead in the third quarter but still lost. You have to wonder how much distractions from the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin controversy played a part in Miami losing to Tampa Bay.
Stock watch: The Dolphins got a nice showing from new slot receiver Rishard Matthews, who is replacing the injured Brandon Gibson. Matthews caught 11 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns. It was his first 100-yard game of the season.
In terms of stock down, Miami’s running game was terrible once again. The Dolphins rushed for just 2 yards on 14 carries. They had zero yards on seven carries in the first half. Miami’s offensive line was dominated at the line of scrimmage and couldn’t get many running lanes against Tampa Bay’s defensive line. Dolphins tailback Lamar Miller (2 yards, seven carries) also didn’t do his part to break many tackles.
Owner speaks: Dolphins owner Stephen Ross met with the media before the game and promised to make organizational changes to fix their locker-room culture after the Incognito-Martin fallout. Ross backed Miami head coach Joe Philbin but said no one is above repercussions if they’re found culpable in the NFL investigation. Ross will meet with Martin on Wednesday to discuss what happened.
What’s next: The road only gets tougher for Miami. The Dolphins will play host to the San Diego Chargers (4-5) in a game that could have AFC wild-card implications. Miami is 2-2 at home this season.