Dolphins' trend of struggling against the NFL's better teams was on display again

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — The Miami Dolphins have faced three teams this season that currently have winning records. They’re 0-3 in those games.

Against everyone else, they’re 6-0.

The trend couldn’t be clearer and it was on display again Sunday in Frankfurt, Germany, where the Dolphins got behind 21-0 against Kansas City and wound up losing 21-14 to the defending Super Bowl champions. They looked good in the second half but once again not good enough.

“All we can continue to do is work and not lose sight of where we want to go as a team,” Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa said. “We’ve got to continue to stick together and not deviate from that, regardless of what everyone outside is saying, and we’ve just got to put our head down and keep going."

Miami has lost games to Philadelphia (8-1), Kansas City (7-2) and Buffalo (5-4). Those three games are the only ones this season in which the Dolphins haven’t held a lead; they trailed the Bills by 28, the Chiefs by 21 and the Eagles by 14.

Here’s the rundown of the teams the Dolphins have beaten: the Los Angeles Chargers (3-4 entering Monday), Denver (3-5), the New England Patriots (an AFC-worst 2-7) twice, the New York Giants (2-7) and Carolina (1-7). Only the Panthers (who were up 14-0 early) held a lead of more than seven points at any time against Miami in those games.

Average point differential in the six Miami wins: 18.2 points.

Average point differential in the three Miami losses: 16.3 points.

“I know that NFL games, each and every one of them is tough,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said. “I think people undervalue poor records. It is hard to win in this league. To win in any right against any opponent is something not to take for granted. As long as you continue to get better, ultimately that narrative will subside. But that’s on us collectively from coaches and players alike to — if you want the narrative to change, change the narrative.”

WHAT’S WORKING

The defense. Maybe this isn’t the same crazy-number-posting Kansas City offense from recent years, but Miami still held the Chiefs to 267 yards, 174 of them through the air. Those were Kansas City’s lowest numbers in a regular-season game in nearly two years.

WHAT NEEDS WORK

Going on the road. The difference in the numbers is massive. The Dolphins are 4-0 at home, outscoring teams 174-74 and have averaged 516 net yards. On the road, the Dolphins are 2-3, have been outscored 151-111 and have averaged 371 net yards.

STOCK UP

Again, the defense, especially in the second half. Excluding the final possession of the game that had two kneeldowns by the Chiefs, Kansas City had the ball four times after halftime – resulting in zero points, a lost fumble, three punts, four first downs and 67 yards. Miami’s defense gave the Dolphins a chance. But teams must score to beat Kansas City; the Chiefs are winners of 31 straight when holding an opponent under 20 points.

STOCK DOWN

Tagovailoa. Look, he’s still having a big season and absolutely should be in the MVP conversation. But he had season lows in completion percentage (61.8) and yards (193) against the Chiefs, and there were two costly blunders on the final drive when Miami had a chance to tie — a miscommunication with Cedric Wilson Jr. on the next-to-last play for the Dolphins, and then a mishandled snap on the final play that sealed the outcome.

INJURIES

OL Robert Jones left Sunday’s game with a knee injury.

KEY NUMBER

33-1 — That was Miami’s record since the start of the 2010 season when it outscored an opponent by 10 or more points in the second half. It’s 33-2 over that span now, because the Dolphins outscored the Chiefs 14-0 after halftime on Sunday. (The other loss was Sept. 18, 2016, at New England, a game in which the Dolphins trailed Jimmy Garoppolo & Co. — Tom Brady was suspended for “Deflategate” at that time — 24-3 at the half, before outscoring the Patriots 21-7 in the final two quarters but still losing 31-24.)

NEXT STEPS

It’s a bye week for the Dolphins, who will practice Tuesday, then take a few days off before returning next week and getting ready for a Nov. 19 home game against the Las Vegas Raiders.

___

AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl