Posted December 24, 2012 on AP on Fox
Consecutive December victories give the Miami Dolphins reason to hope they'll be playing for higher stakes at this time next year. The Dolphins began preparations Monday for a mostly meaningless season finale disappointed they'll again sit out the playoffs but buoyed by recent signs of progress. Miami (7-8) beat Buffalo 24-10 Sunday, then was eliminated from the postseason race minutes later when Cincinnati claimed the final AFC playoff berth by beating Pittsburgh. ''We're building a foundation that is going to deliver excellent football teams here in the future,'' first-year coach Joe Philbin said. ''And it takes time.'' The Dolphins will be playoff spectators for the 10th time in 11 years. Other negative streaks will also continue - 39 years without a Super Bowl title, 28 years without a Super Bowl berth, and 20 years since Miami last played in the AFC championship game. The best the Dolphins can hope for in 2012 is to avoid a fourth consecutive losing season by winning Sunday at New England. ''That's not good enough,'' defensive end Cameron Wake said. ''There are no moral victories in football. You're either first or you're last. We didn't do well enough this season to be where we want to be, and almost doing it is just not good enough.'' Even so, the outlook is much brighter than in the past couple of Decembers. The Dolphins have won their past two games in convincing fashion. And while the opponents - Jacksonville and Buffalo - were woeful, Miami had trouble with such teams earlier this year, losing four games to opponents that will finish under .500. Miami lost the first time it played the Jets and Bills, then beat both division rivals in the rematch, and the same could happen against the Patriots. That reflects steady improvement under Philbin. Rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill is finishing the season strong, meaning the Dolphins will head into the offseason set at a position that has perennially been otherwise. Over the past four games, Tannehill has thrown five touchdown passes with no interceptions. ''I think I've grown a lot,'' Tannehill said. ''I think I've learned something from every game and grown. Hopefully, I can continue that.'' The running game has thrived of late, with Miami averaging 149 yards over the past five games. Blocking was solid Sunday with the new combination of rookie Jonathan Martin at left tackle and Nate Garner at right tackle. Rookie Lamar Miller ran for a season-high 73 yards in 10 carries. ''He's going to be a great player in this league,'' teammate Reggie Bush said. There are also encouraging signs on defense, the Dolphins' strong suit all season. They came up with four takeaways, three by emerging star Reshad Jones, to end a two-month drought. Veteran cornerback Dimitri Patterson, acquired off waivers a week ago, played well and might be part of the long-term outlook. ''Dimitri did a really nice job,'' Philbin said. ''We were happy with the contribution he made.'' But significant roster turnover is a certainty this offseason, with the Dolphins well positioned to upgrade in the draft even though they might lose several starters via free agency. They have considerable flexibility thanks to more than $40 million in cap space, along with five picks in the first three rounds of the draft. Martin's steady play means injury-plagued tackle Jake Long, the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2008, is likely to be deemed expendable and allowed to depart as a free agent. Bush, receiver Brian Hartline, tight end Anthony Fasano, defensive tackle Randy Starks, cornerback Sean Smith and safety Chris Clemons can also become free agents. The Dolphins may try to re-sign Bush, who is their best playmaker and helped his market value in recent weeks. He scored three touchdowns Sunday and needs only 40 yards rushing to reach the 1,000 mark for the second year in a row. ''Our offense is really getting into a rhythm,'' Bush said. ''We hit a low point midway through the season where we were kind of struggling to run that ball, and I think that really hurt us. I feel like now we've kind of hit that stride where everybody is on the same page, our chemistry is good, our defense is playing well, and it feels good.'' NFL parity makes it easy to play what-if. The Dolphins lost five games by a touchdown or less, including two in overtime. Looking back, which defeat stings the most? ''All of them. All of them. All of them,'' linebacker Karlos Dansby said. ''Every last one of them.'' Such frustration will linger as the Dolphins look to a better future. --- Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
RELATED ARTICLES
DOWN AND DIRTY

Chad Johnson sex tape hits 'net

A sex tape featuring Chad Johnson is being shopped. The former NFL wide receiver confirmed it's him appearing in the sex tape.

Sex Tape Of Chad Johnson With Two Females Is Leaked

Chad Johnson's year keeps getting worse, as Johnson (himself) has confirmed that there's a sex tape out, which features him and two women...... GETTING IT ON (below). According to New York Daily News, Johnson claims that the footage is REAL, but that he never agree to release parts of the tape to the public, nor did he leak the footage out to the public. According to sources...

Cameron Wake says Pro Bowl should continue

DAVIE, Fla. Theres one possession Cameron Wake never goes anywhere without. It sits in his locker at Miamis training facility during practice days and makes the trip to Sun Life Stadium when the Dolphins play home games. When the Dolphins are on the road, the prized item travels with the star defensive end. With the Pro Bowl rosters to be announced Wednesday, Wake has a pretty...

AP source: Dolphins' Smith has knee bruise

A person familiar with the diagnosis says Miami Dolphins cornerback Sean Smith escaped serious injury when he hurt his left knee in the team's victory over Buffalo. An MRI test Monday determined the injury was only a bruise, the person told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because the Dolphins are not releasing details about the injury. Smith, a fourth...

Dolphins eliminated despite 24-10 win over Bills

Entering the second to last week of the NFL season the Dolphins were clinging to their playoff lives with several different scenarios needing to play out in order for Miami to squeak in as the 6th seed in the AFC. To begin with, the Dolphins needed to win out, however they would have also needed the Bengals and Steelers to both finish 8-8 and for the Jets to lose at least one of...

Happy Holidays to All

May your stockings be filled with the best draft picks in the history of the Miami Dolphins, followed by a deep run in the playoffs next year. Merry Christmas.http://www.dolphinshout.com Come here for the best Miami Dolphins blog on the web. We have all of the most up to date new and opinions on the Dolphins organization for its fans.

Reggie Bush a Touchdown Machine vs. Bills

Reggie Bush was a touchdown machine Sunday against Buffalo. The Dolphins halfback finished the afternoon with three touchdowns and 107 total yards.Fantasy Spin:Two were receiving touchdowns while the other score came on a one-yard run. He's inching closer to the 1,000 yard threshold needing just 40 yards in Week 17 to reach the mark.

Reggie Bush lifts Dolphins past visiting Bills

MIAMI (AP) -- The Miami Dolphins walked off the field victorious and still in playoff contention. By the time they reached the locker room, they had been eliminated. Reggie Bush caught two touchdown passes and scored on a short run Sunday to help beat the hapless Bills 24-10. But a few minutes later, the Dolphins (7-8) were out of the postseason chase because of Cincinnati's...

A Miami Dolphin Victory against New England Is Crucial

A victory this weekend against the New England Patriots would be huge for the Miami Dolphins. It would give us a three game win streak and momentum going into the offseason. The Dolphins are... Come here for the best Miami Dolphins blog on the web. We have all of the most up to date new and opinions on the Dolphins organization for its fans.

Miami Dolphins vs Buffalo Bills Live Game Chat

If Miami wants any chance at making the playoffs they need to win today against the Bills. Click here to watch the game live. Do not download anything. There will be a lot of ads. Just exit out... Come here for the best Miami Dolphins blog on the web. We have all of the most up to date new and opinions on the Dolphins organization for its fans.

Dolphins miss playoffs but beat Bills 24-10

The whistle had blown and Reggie Bush stood in the end zone, holding the ball for a touchdown as he wiggled his right leg to free it from the annoying grasp of a Buffalo Bills defender. Bush repeatedly shook loose Sunday, catching passes for two scores and running for a third to help the Miami Dolphins beat the hapless Bills 24-10. The win kept Miami's slim playoff hopes alive...

Dolphins win but are 'tired of playing for pride'

The Miami Dolphins' defense was able to do something it had struggled with all season, creating four turnovers in a convincing 24-10 victory over the Buffalo Bills.But the team wasn't satisfied that they had just dominated a division rival. Instead they were focused on the reality that they would miss the postseason for the fourth straight season."There are guys...

Dolphins 24, Bills 10

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Miami's defense had wished it could generate more turnovers, and it got four early Christmas gifts from Buffalo's offense on Sunday leading to a 24-10 victory. The Dolphins were eliminated from playoff contention by virtue of the Bengals' victory over the Steelers, but the possibility of an 8-8 finish remains alive. The Dolphins had their first...

True or False: Bills/Dolphins Edition

True or false: The Bills/Dolphins game is totally meaningless? True. Okay, that’s a bit harsh, as there are draft implications, but it’s unfortunate that this game has no playoff implications (Dolphins are still alive but they need a miracle to sneak into the playoffs). Back when I was a child it seemed that the Bills and Dolphins had one of the top rivalries in the NFL and generally...
Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.