Following the high of the Miami Miracle -- last week's stunning win over the New England Patriots -- the Dolphins came out of the gate slowly in a pivotal game against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. It felt like the two teams were in different leagues as the Vikings went up 21-0 in the first quarter.
"Whooping our ass, that's what they did," said Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake, who thought he let the team down and played his worst game of the season due to his role in pass protection struggles.
If he did, Drake wasn't alone. The Dolphins were outgained 418-193 in a game they lost 41-17. They went 2-of-12 on third down. Tannehill was sacked nine times -- many the fault of the offensive line. He completed just 11-of-24 passes. His sack yards (71) nearly eclipsed his passing yards (108).
By the fourth quarter, the Vikings looked like they tasted blood, attacking Tannehill and the Dolphins' line on every play.
"Protection-wise, we were terrible," coach Adam Gase said.
After one of the worst offensive showings in the Gase era, the Dolphins' locker room didn't seem angry or somber like it has been after other losses. With a few players, there appeared to be a sense of resignation. The inconsistency that had defined Miami's season unsurprisingly showed up again before an important game and there was no concrete answer as to why.
Tannehill, who pointed blame at the offense as a whole and not just the line, repeatedly mentioned his disappointment in how Sunday turned out.
The Vikings' nine sacks tied for the second most by a team in a game this season. It also was a career high for Tannehill -- who had no chance on many plays and failed to recognize his hot route on some others.
Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr was a frequent blitzer and finished the day with two sacks. Defensive end Danielle Hunter also had success on the edge with two sacks. Minnesota had 12 tackles for loss.
"It seemed like eight of them were coming every play. We ultimately couldn't get it figured out and on the same page together. It ended up starting a snowball effect," Dolphins right guard Jesse Davis said. "Signaling protection starts with the quarterback giving the Mike [linebacker] point, then the center on getting us all on the same page. It seemed like we were running out of time a good bit and we couldn't get on the same page."
Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen added: "They didn't know where we were going to come from."
The Dolphins' defense put the offense in a rough position by giving up three consecutive touchdowns to start the game. They also allowed 220 rushing yards.
Miami has plenty of issues to fix going into the 2019 offseason, but we will learn a lot about this team from how it plays over the last two games vs. Jacksonville and at Buffalo.
The day started with four AFC teams (Baltimore, Miami, Tennessee, Indianapolis) tied for the No. 6 AFC playoff spot at 7-6. On Sunday, the Dolphins were the only team of the group to lose.
ESPN's FPI lists the Dolphins' playoff odds at four percent. There's a strong chance that even if the Dolphins win out, they will be at home come playoff time.
"It is out of our hands right now. We do not have any control in this situation," Tannehill said. "We are going to need a lot of help."