The Dolphins have lived by the credo, "Why not us?" during a season in which they discarded doubts about their ability to turn around a 1-15 nightmare in 2007 to an 11-5 dream in 2008.
But as 2009 dawns, it might be interesting to note the Miami defense may be adopting a new motto as the playoff game against Baltimore looms: "What about us?"
The Dolphins defense, you see, has apparently heard a lot about, of all things, the Ravens defense. Yes, the Miamian's defense has to worry primarily about the Baltimore offense. But with all the national attention on Ray Lewis and Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs and the greatness of the Baltimore defense, the Dolphins defenders are wondering why no one has noticed them.
"It's not talked about," defensive end Vonnie Holliday said. "Nobody's talking about the Miami Dolphins defense. No doubt about it. I was sitting there the other day and I'm watching television and thinking our defense is OK. But you don't hear that from anyone.
"So there is that competitive side of you where you want to match their defense. You want to play better than their defense, no doubt about it."
I could find no Miami defender who thought, or would say publicly, he believes Miami's defense is better than Baltimore's. Fact is, several Miami defenders kept saying they are more worried about Baltimore's offense than defense.
But these guys are competitors. And they don't doubt themselves even when the pundits do.
So ask Matt Roth who he thinks about when asked to name the better NFL defenses and this is his response:
"I think Pittsburgh and Baltimore and ourselves," Roth said, before adding, "At times."
So what has to happen for the Miami defense to be in that conversation all the time?
"Win this week," Roth said. "Yeah. Win this week. We've been playing good. We just have to be on all cylinders. That's where we're at right now."
The Miami defense was ranked 15th in total defense this season. Baltimore was ranked No. 2.
But the Dolphins had a run of three consecutive games in which they did not allow a defensive touchdown and they yielded only 317 points all season. Miami's D ranked No. 9 in points allowed, which is probably the most telling defensive statistic.
The Ravens allowed 244 points and ranked No. 3 in points allowed.
"We're not trying to compare ourselves to them," said strong safety Yeremiah Bell. "We know where they're at and they got the numbers to prove it. They're like second in the league and we're like 15th. We can't compare ourselves to them."
And then in the next breath, Bell makes the comparison.
"We're a young defense," he said. "We're getting better and we will get to that point. Those guys have been together for a while and we're kind of a brand new team trying to get this thing rolling. So we're getting better each week."
Bottom line, Holliday said, the Miamians want to play well enough Sunday so that, when the game is over, people will come out of it, "Talking about our defense. And who won the defensive battle.
"We can win it. We're capable. Why not? We're capable of being in the playoffs aren't we? As a defense we've done some good things around here. But what a test. What a time to step up."