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Dolphins lament losing control of their playoff fate

The SportsXchange

DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins wasted the best playoff opportunity they have had in several years with Sunday's startling 19-0 loss at the Buffalo Bills. All the Dolphins needed to do was defeat the Bills in Week 16 and the New York Jets this week, and they would have secured a playoff spot.

Now the Dolphins (8-7) must win and get help to make their first postseason appearance since 2008.

"It happened," wide receiver Mike Wallace said of the Buffalo loss. "Being mad about it is not going to take the game back. We have to stay positive."

If Miami defeats the Jets (7-8) on Sunday, and either Baltimore (8-7) loses to Cincinnati or San Diego (8-7) defeats Kansas City, the Dolphins earn the final AFC wild-card berth.

If the Dolphins, Ravens and Chargers all win, the Dolphins get the playoff berth in a three-way tie by virtue of their better conference record.

The Dolphins would lose out in a four-team tiebreaker that could include Pittsburgh (7-8).

A week ago, Miami was among the hottest teams in the NFL with its three-game winning streak that included victories at Pittsburgh and against New England, both in come-from-behind fashion. Everything was going right. They were 2-0 in December road games and had won four of their previous five games.

Then came the Buffalo fiasco.

Now a Miami season that seemed so promising - the Dolphins had to deal with the distraction of the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito scandal as well as major personnel losses - is on the brink of collapse.

"(We) picked a helluva day to kind of go out and lay an egg," defensive end Cam Wake said of the Bills loss.

If the Dolphins fail to reach the playoff this would easily be their most disappointing finish since 2008, and that's saying a lot. In 2009 and 2010, Miami was 7-6, just as it was this season. In both of those years, however, the Dolphins lost their final three games and finished 7-9, missing the playoffs.

This year would be even more disappointing considering Miami was in control of its own destiny with a pair of losing teams on the schedule to close the regular season. It failed on that first part of that equation and if it fails on the second part the season has been a huge disappointment.

--Quarterback Ryan Tannehill left Sunday's loss briefly in the fourth quarter after sustaining an apparent left knee injury following one of his seven sacks. Tannehill has somehow managed to stay healthy this season despite the being sacked a NFL-leading 58 times. His only prior ailments this season were a sore right shoulder and a sore right thumb.

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