To Miami Dolphins Coach Dan Campbell, October must seem like so long ago. When he won his first two games after taking over for the fired Joe Philbin, it appeared his team was responding to his leadership.
Since that quick start, Miami has lost six of their last eight games. The latest was Sunday’s debacle at San Diego, where the Chargers, largely on the strength of four Danny Woodhead touchdowns, manhandled the Dolphins, 30-14. San Diego broke a five-game home losing streak.
Miami put up 82 points in those first two victories in October, but in their past eight games, they have averaged only 16.3. Things only got worse on Sunday.
The Dolphins picked up two first downs on their opening possession, but punted to the Chargers, who took over at their 14 with 10:30 left in the first quarter. Miami would not gain another first down until 39 seconds remained in the half and they trailed by 23 points.
San Diego went 86 yards in 12 plays capped by a 20-yard strike from quarterback Phillip Rivers to running back Woodhead with 4:16 left in the opening quarter. Josh Lambo’s extra point attempt hit the right upright.
For about five seconds, it appeared the Dolphin defense had made a key play when Rashad Jones intercepted Rivers at the Dolphin 7-yard line. Jones was hit at the Miami 42 and fumbled, with Rivers eventually recovering at his own 38. Lambo finished the possession with a 28-yard field goal with 9:08 remaining in the second quarter.
The pattern continued. Miami had two more three-and-out possessions with San Diego following each with touchdown drives. Woodhead ran around left end for a 2-yard score and chalked up his third touchdown on a 9-yard toss from Rivers to make it 23-0 at the half.
Miami had four first downs and only 77 yards of total offense at the break.
After the Dolphins’ first two possessions of the second half netted minus-9 yards, they finally got on the board with a 12-yard run up the middle by Jay Ajayi with 1:30 left in the third to make it 23-7. The Chargers ended their scoring with another Rivers-to-Woodhead connection, this one for 9 yards.
The Dolphins managed to get into double figures when quarterback Ryan Tannehill scored on a 1-yard run with 1:35 remaining.
Rivers finished with 26 completions in 36 attempts for 311 yards and three touchdowns. Woodhead had only 60 yards rushing and receiving combined, but the four touchdowns made the difference. Donald Brown led San Diego with 90 yards rushing.
Miami’s total inability to run the ball played out again. They rushed for only 44 yards in 19 attempts, led by Ajayi with 27 yards and the one touchdown. Tannehill was 20 for 34 for 216 yards while DeVante Parker had 87 yards receiving on four catches.
The Chargers dominated time of possession, holding the ball for 39 minutes to 21 minutes for the Dolphins. Miami eventually recorded 13 first downs with San Diego earning 26.
“The effort wasn’t the problem,” said Campbell. “It was the details today. It was the lack of discipline and details, which is one of the things we talked about. It just didn’t show up.”
This game was quite possibly the last in San Diego. They are reported to be working on a deal that could move the team to Los Angeles.
If they do leave, the Chargers went out in style.