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The post-mortem from preseason opening loss

After Sunday night's 24-20 loss to the Cowboys, Dolphins coach Joe Philbin did his postgame press conference out on the field, by the end zone. As a group of reporters surrounded him for his four-minute talk, a nearby fan yelled over at the top of his lungs:

"Breaking news," the fan yelled, "the Dolphins still suck."

I wouldn't go that far nor would I make assumptions on a season or even a preaseason based on this preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys.

But on this night the Dolphins definitely didn't present much of a counter-argument against that heckler.

They didn't just lose this one 24-20, but lost it ugly. They played poorly, they played sloopy, and they got beat. Not a good recipe for turning the thing around in time to start the season fast.

"I told the team I thought we would play better," coach Joe Philbin said. "That's obviously not the way you want to start any football game, I don't care if it's preseason, Game 1, the Super Bowl or any game in between."

The start was ugly. Lamar Miller fumbled on the first offensive play.

The Cowboys recovered inside the Dolphins 10 yard line and scored.

The galling thing?

The defense that started for Dallas was missing every defensive starter in the lineup save one. Yes, coach Jason Garrett sat practically everyone and still won.

"I told our team we've talked a lot about taking the ball away. We've talked a lot about ball security. We spent a lot of practice time but it didn't show up on the field today. We have to go back to work and get that corrected. That's the reason we lost the game and that's what's going to turn this program around more than anything else is us doing a much, much better job in that category."

Yes, it was a bad start for Miller, who is trying to replace Reggie Bush, but he recovered a little bit. He finished with two carries for 21 yards.

"I had to make up for it and look forward to the next play," Miller said. "I was trying to move the chains and help the football team."

Miller added the team, "can only get better."

Obviously. The Dolphins lost the turnover margin, 2-0. One of those was a 75-yard interception return TD by reserve linebacker Devonte Holloman, who picked off Matt Moore. The pick goes on Moore's stat sheet, but the problem was that rookie receiver Chad Bumphis sat down in the zone when Moore was expecting him to run through.

"It was a bad read on my part," Bumphis said. "That one's on me. But I'm going to learn from that and that miscommunication won't happen again."

Bumphis wasn't bad otherwise. He caught five passes for 85 yards to lead the team. Michael Egnew had four catches for 52 yards but had a drop. Keenan Davis had three catches for 48 yards and a TD.

"Keenan Davis made a couple of plays," Philbin said. "Bumphis has caught the ball in practice ... The kid gets open and he catches the ball."

Moore finished the game with 19 completions on 29 attempts for 238 yards. He played most of the second quarter but was forced back in the game in the fourth quarter when third-stringer Pat Devlin "got nicked," according to Philbin.

Dolphins05 rmattsacked jwrI'm sure Moore loved the idea of coming back in the game. He was sacked once (which you see courtesy a photo by Joe Rimkus) and hit hard on multiple occasions as the second-team line -- particularly reserve left tackle Dallas Thomas -- seemed to struggle. Frankly, I'm wondering if Thomas has the quickness to play left tackle. If he does, he didn't show it tonight.

It looked like Devlin took a shot that had him a little glassy-eyed in the locker room afterward.

Speaking of quarterbacks, starter Ryan Tannehill completed two of five passes for 1 yards. His 47.9 QB rating was the lowest of the Miami QBs. His inability to connect on a couple of simple slant throws to WRs showed either his lack or work with those receivers, or a twinge of inaccuracy or both.

Afterward, Tannehill conceded the Dolphins looked ugly.

"It wasn't our cleanest game, wasn't our best game," he said. "I'm glad we can get that one out of the way early. We have four more preseason games before we get into the regular season. So hopefully this was our sloppy game."

The leading rusher on the night for Miami was Jonas Gray. He rushed for 41 yards on seven carries. Gray missed all of last season as he rehabilitated a knee injury from his Notre Dame days. 

"This was a reassurance that my knee is 100 percent," he said.

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