Thomas Paine once said, "These are the times that try men's souls". Perhaps no famous historical quote better applies to the current predicament of the Miami Dolphins.
After a 3-0 start to the 2013 season that had so many south Floridians riddled with optimism, the Dolphins have dropped three straight including back-to-back heartbreakers at home. Three turnovers by Miami's second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill on Sunday, did in the Dolphins with all three proving costly.
Tannehill threw two first quarter interceptions, one that was intercepted behind the line of scrimmage and returned for a touchdown and another that came in the end zone to thwart a scoring drive. With Miami nursing a one-point lead and near midfield, Tannehill's final turnover of the day, a fumble with under three minutes to play in the game, set up Buffalo's winning score in a 23-21 Dolphins' loss.
Despite a 3-3 record, the Dolphins are just a half game back of the New York Jets and San Diego Chargers for the final wild card spot in the AFC and only a game and a half back of the AFC East-leading New England Patriots, whom the Dolphins will visit on Sunday.
The Dolphins are down right now and with a short road ahead that includes games against 5-2 teams and division leaders, New England and Cincinnati, Miami's mental makeup will be on display at New England as well as that of Tannehill.
Sunday's contest at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro could prove to be a make or break game for the Dolphins. With a victory, Miami would crawl to within a half game of the division lead while a loss could signal the ultimate unraveling of a season that began with so much promise.
As for Tannehill, Sunday's game against New England will speak volumes of his maturity. Tannehill through the early parts of the season was without question, the Dolphins' most valuable player and one of the more improved quarterbacks in the NFL. In two of his last three games, the second-year signal-caller has committed at least three turnovers and not surprisingly, both ended in defeat for Miami.
Motivation shouldn't be an issue as the New England Patriots have claimed 11 division titles, five conference crowns and three world championships over the last 12 years. The Dolphins are just 2-10 in their last 12 match-ups against New England and have not won in Foxboro since 2008, the only year a team other than New England claimed the AFC East crown over that span.
After three straight losses, the Miami Dolphins have gone from one of seven teams to begin the season 3-0 to just a half game out of last place in their own division. Back-to-back losses to the Baltimore Ravens and Buffalo Bills by a combined five points have certainly left a sour taste in Miami's mouth and much to question. It's no secret that the Dolphins are down, but Sunday's contest against the Patriots will go a long way in determining whether or not Miami is capable of getting back up.