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Dolphins need better play late in games to win

Through six games this seasons the Dolphins have had one easy win (Cleveland) one blowout loss (New Orleans) and four games that have been decided late and have required a certain amount of heroics to win.

Twice the Dolphins delivered on the heroics -- against Indianapolis and Atlanta.

Twice the Dolphins failed to deliver -- against Baltimore and Buffalo.

The Dolphins got heroics from different units in their victories. The Miami defense delivered a late-game stop to beat the Colts while the offense came up with a late-game TD drive that beat the Falcons.

Against Baltimore both the offense and defense failed to respond late as the defense gave up a last-minute FG and the offense couldn't come up with any points, instead wilting under a barrage of sacks from Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil.

Last week was more of the same as both units failed. The offense turned the ball over on a strip sack that led to the game winning field goal. And the defense not only couldn't force a long FG attempt but actually allowed the Bills to advance 21 yards on seven running plays that took 2:15 off the clock.

The good news? The Dolphins can sometimes pull out games with the heroics.

The bad news? The Dolphins are one of those teams that usually have to go to crunch time to decide a game and sometimes they'll succeed and sometimes they won't. It's a recipe for a .500 season.

"In the NFL you win close games and you lose close games," said CBS Sports analyst Phil Simms, who will be calling the Dolphins game at New England on Sunday. " t comes down to the last couple of minutes with who makes the plays to win. Most teams are in that boat. Miami is one of those teams.

"They have a lot of good players. But no matter how they play, it’s still going to come down to the last couple minutes just about every single week. So what side of the ball does it for you? Their offense could have run the clock out [against Buffalo], but that’s a little unrealistic.  he defense had a chance if they could have stopped Buffalo and not given them the field goal chance.

"They would have won. So, one side of your football team really has to dominate in those special situations.  And those special situations in the NFL are the last two or three minutes."

I share this because I believe Sunday's game might come down to the final couple of minutes. The Patriots, after all, are not exactly looking like a world-beating bunch, what with all their injuries and their two losses in the last three outings.

Yes, the Pats have dominated in Foxboro for a decade. They haven't lost an October game there dating back to 2005 and are 21-1 at the venue in October going back to 2003.

But something is different about this New England team. And this Dolphins team is as talented as we've seen in a while, despite its recent troubles. This Miami team matches up well against the Pats along the lines of scrimmage.

So it would be no surprise if this one comes down to the final minutes.

And if the Dolphins hope to win, someone is going to have to deliver bigtime in crunch time. Someone is going to have to help Miami finish.

Whatever happens, this much seems certain: The Dolphins are going to be involved in quite a few more close games decided in the final minute this season. They have to figure out a way to do better than .500 in those.

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