Posted December 29, 2013

Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens eliminated from AFC playoff contention

AFC East, AFC North, AFC South, AFC West, NFL Playoffs
The Dolphins' 20-7 loss to the Jets eliminated them from playoff contention.

The Dolphins’ 20-7 loss to the Jets eliminated them from playoff contention. (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

The San Diego Chargers received all the help they needed Sunday (and then some from Andy Reid) to grab control of their own playoff destiny. With losses by Miami and Baltimore early in Week 17, the Chargers headed into their late-afternoon matchup with the Chiefs needing only a win to secure the AFC’s final playoff spot.

Should the Chargers lose that game, the Steelers would sneak into the postseason. That means both the Dolphins and Ravens were eliminated from contention with their defeats — Miami’s the more shocking of the two by a significant margin.

MORE COVERAGE: Week 17 Snaps | Previewing wild-card weekend | Top-10 Mock Draft

The Dolphins needed a win plus a Baltimore loss to secure their first postseason bid since 2008. Standing in their way was a Jets team that had been eliminated prior to Week 17 and was facing uncertainty regarding the future of head coach Rex Ryan. But the Jets picked off Miami QB Ryan Tannehill three times and received a strong performance from their own young quarterback, Geno Smith, to chalk up a 20-7 win. (Owner Woody Johnson announced after the game that Ryan would return in 2014.)

That result would have opened the door for the Ravens to clinch a wild-card spot with a win, but the defending champs stumbled to a double-digit loss in Cincinnati, despite recording four interceptions of Andy Dalton.

Both Miami and Baltimore will be haunted this offseason by what might have been. The Dolphins turned in an absolute dud at Buffalo in Week 16, losing 19-0, before Sunday’s disappointing showing. And the Ravens (who beat the Dolphins in Week 5) dropped their final two games, against New England and Cincinnati, by a combined 75-24 score.

The Ravens limped into the playoffs last season having lost four of five games before riding a hot streak to the Vince Lombardi Trophy. It was a slow middle of the season that undid them in 2013 — after knocking off Miami to improve to 3-2, the Ravens dropped four of their next five.

Never along the way were they really able to establish the run game that had so bolstered them last season. Sunday, Bernard Pierce and Ray Rice combined for just 43 yards, with Rice seeing a mere five carries and spending extended portions of the game on the sideline. That performance was a rather fitting conclusion to the year for Baltimore’s offense, which also struggled to replace Anquan Boldin in the passing game, even after TE Dennis Pitta returned from injury.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins may feel like there are brighter days ahead thanks to the second-year development of QB Ryan Tannehill. They still coughed away a glorious opportunity to earn a playoff bid in spite of a tumultuous, dramatic season that included the high-profile beef between offensive linemen Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito.

Miami struggled to overcome those absences (plus that of center Mike Pouncey for multiple games): Tannehill was sacked 58 times, more than any other QB in the league.

The Dolphins appeared to have taken the bull by the horns, though, with a three-game win streak in early December — at the Jets, at Pittsburgh and vs. New England. But the clunker at Buffalo followed, setting the stage for Sunday’s misfire and a possible housecleaning in Miami.

10 comments
pvs
pvs

Big time chock by the Dolphins.....not a playoff caliber team.

wetmouse
wetmouse

Both supporters of Aaron Hernandez - that is both scumbag Pouncey brothers - had their teams lose playoff spots today. 

It's called karma.

NeoSmith
NeoSmith

All those people who thought it was a good idea to sign Average Joe Flacco to an elite QB contract when he was just mediocre need to step forward and admit their error.  BECAUSE the Ravens had to pay Mr. Average, they gutted a Super Bowl winning team.  Yet, delusional Ravens fans continued to shout at the top of their lungs that the blood letting actually made the Ravens BETTER!  Yeah, I'm talking to the delusional Ravens fans who came on this board and other boards and said they knew better than any one else about their team when all the analysts and fans everywhere saw what the Ravens had become, a shell of their Super Bowl team.  

Now, it will take 2 years at least for the Ravens to rebuild.  In 2 years, you will have spent millions on Mr. Average for nothing.  Yes, I realize that the last time the Ravens won a Super Bowl, you jettisoned Trent Dilfer and that set your franchise back so now you overcompensate by signing Mr. Average.  But just admit what everyone else saw when the Ravens signed Mr. Average, THE RAVENS MADE A MISTAKE AND AVERAGE JOE FLACCO IS NOT AN ELITE QB.

EasyGoer
EasyGoer

Good feeling for New Yorkers watching the Dolphins' fair-weather fans exiting early from the game. Bad year for our area teams but knocking out the Dolphins in Miami takes away a little of the sting.

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

The Ravens were in the playoffs the last five seasons. And won in each. No other team can match that. So remember that before you pay attention to the fantasy players that think they understand real live grown up football.

Matthew W
Matthew W

But, but, but, but, but Flacco is such a great QB....

CharlieL84
CharlieL84

@NeoSmith You do know know what you are talking about, especially the contract information.  The reason the Ravens were average this year was the O line's failure to protect Flacco and the O-lines failure to be able to open gaps for the run.  The D-line turned out to be very average against the run and tired in the fourth quarter of most games.  Your comments about Flacco are typical of fans who know nothing and spread venom over web sites, while having no real information to share.  If you are a Ravens hater, that is your right, but please get some facts before you mouth off about something you do not know. By the way "
"Average Joe Flacco" has more wins than any of the other "Elite" QB's since 2008.  

NeoSmith
NeoSmith

@RickapolisEnjoy sitting this season out and the next 2 seasons because you overpaid for Average Joe.

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@Matthew WI apologize in advance if you are new to football and don't get some of this stuff, but maybe you are not aware that it takes contributions from all players on offense, defense, and special team to win games and championships.

NeoSmith
NeoSmith

@JoeCabot  Yeah, and when you don't have a TEAM because you overpaid your average QB, that really sucks to be you!  Good luck being competitive for the length of that contract.  The Panthers made the same mistake with Jake Delhomme when Delhomme had one good year and they overpaid for him.