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The reaction from the lockerroom following Dallas loss

Interesting game this one. I thought we'd see the Dolphins run circles around the Cowboys for a series or so and get out of Dodge.

The Cowboys cooperated by serving up their second-teamers as sacrifice to Miami's starters. The list of Dallas players that never took a snap in this game reads like a Pro Bowl roster: Tony Romo, Miles Austin, Marion Barber, Felix Jones, DeMarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff, Jason Witten, Leonard Davis, Keith Brooking, Terence Newman and Doug Free all DID NOT PLAY for Dallas.

In fact of their 22 starters on offense and defense, only two started for the Cowboys. Montrae Holland and Michael Hamlin drew the short straws for the Cowboys and had to start.

The Dolphins, meanwhile, went with their full complement of starters except for a handful of playes held out for injury reasons. Jake Grove, who has an injured shoulder, had trouble finishing practices for  the Dolphins this week, according to coach Tony Sparano, so he didn't make the trip. Vontae Davis did travel but was held out for "precautionary reasons," Sparano said. Channing Crowder also missed his third preseason game.

The rest of the starters played. And played. And played.

"The plan was that Jake [Long], Karlos {Dansby] and a couple other guys would be in there for three series or so," Sparano said.

The starting offense got 20 plays that stretched into the early part of the second quarter. The starting interior linemen -- Richie Incognito, Joe Berger and John Jerry -- played longer.

The starting defense got 26 snaps as a unit before coming out when Dallas got the ball with one minute left in the first half.

If you want to know my opinion on coach's decision to play his starters beyond that first series against Dallas, click here.  

For a minute there, it looked as if Sparano played Long one play too many. The franchise left tackle got rolled up on his left knee and was down for a couple of breath-stealing seconds. (Relax, he's fine. He was examined and although he didn't return to the game, he wasn't limping or feeling worse for wear afterward. He will start against the Buffalo Bills, assuming nothing outrageous happens in practice next week.)

Anyway, against second- and third-team competition, the Dolphins were down 7-3 at one point before taking a 10-7 lead and then surrendering that lead to go in 10-10 at halftime.

Chad Henne completed six of 11 passes for 53 yards for a 67.6 QB rating. He had one turnover on a fumble and he was sacked twice. Ronnie Brown gained 10 yards on four carries. Ricky Williams had two rushes for 45 yards, including a 42-yarder when he ran through a hole wide enough to fit a bus. Davone Bess was Miami's most consistent receiver catching five passes for 42 yards -- three of those on screen type throws where the QB just lifts up and throws to Bess at the line of scrimmage. Brandon Marshall caught one pass for 6 yards.

"We definitely wanted to improve on last week against the Falcons," Henne said. "And I think in some areas we did. We had a big run. We scored points on the first drive there. But obviously, we want touchdowns. We don't need field goals down there. We need to protect the ball and score more points."

And defensively, in that first half, the Dolphins yielded 163 yards with 143 of them coming through the air. Dallas third-string QB Stephen McGee completed 13 of 19 passes for 152 yards with one TD. His QB rating against Miami's starters was 110.0.

"A lot of people say I'm not good enough," McGee said, "but I know inmy heart how good a quarterback I am. I've said that since day one, it's a matter of [getting] a good opportunity."

One such opportunity came when McGee found Sam Hurd on a 43-yard TD pass. Hurd beat Miami cornerback Sean Smith.

"It's just that one play. That's how it is for me," Smith said. "I hold myself to very high standards. So no matter how well I perform, giving up a play like that is unacceptable. I just have to tighten that up. It's nothing that can't be fixed. Just need to look at the film, find out what I did wrong and do better next week.

"I had perfect coverage. I looked back too soon. When I looked back, I slowed down, the receiver got separation. You give the receivers any little bit of room and the quarterback is going to make that throw. So, I don't know."

I know.

Not good enough. From practically anyone. Offense. Defense. Coaching. Not good enough right now.

I might be alone on this opinion, however.

Coach Sparano seemed to express satisfaction from portions of the performance.

"Last week, I told you guys we couldn’t really take a whole lot from the game from a team standpoint," he began. "This time, I felt like at least we were able to get some things going offensively, and we were able to do some things on a defensive end. It wasn’t really sloppy until the very end (of the game). It was pretty clean."

And the players are apparently very confident despite finishing the preseason with two consecutive losses (whatever that means).

"I think we're definitely motivated," said defensive end Kendall Langford. "We're confident. We know the kind of team we have and we're just going to go [to Buffalo] and take care of business."

Let's hope.

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