Dolphins against Jags is matchup of teams with holiday blahs
MIAMI (AP) — Contemplating the agony of the Miami Dolphins’ latest defeat, coach Adam Gase drew on his experience, wishing he had less of it.
“You always debate — are you better off getting blown out, or losing in a heartbreaker,” Gase said.
“No matter which way you do it, it just hurts the same,” he said.
The Dolphins (7-7) have lost both ways too much this year. Ditto Jacksonville (4-10), Miami’s opponent Sunday.
Here are things to know about two teams afflicted with the holidays blahs:
A 41-17 loss at Minnesota last week pushed Miami to the verge of elimination from the AFC playoff race, and dropped Gase’s three-year record in games decided by more than one score to 3-18.
That’s a lot of lopsided losses, including three this year. The 2018 Dolphins also squandered fourth-quarter double-digit leads in two defeats.
That’s why they’re ninth in the AFC race for six playoff berths. They’ll likely be postseason spectators for the 15th time in the past 17 seasons.
“It is out of our hands,” quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. “We do not have any control in this situation. We are going to need a lot of help.”
The Jaguars are beyond help. They’ve lost nine of their past 10 games and seem to be getting worse, scoring a total of 28 points in the three weeks since Cody Kessler replaced Blake Bortles at quarterback.
“What is on the field is my responsibility,” said coach Doug Marrone, who is 15-17 with the Jaguars. “I have done a poor job of communicating, of keeping everyone on track, of keeping everyone consistent. That falls solely on me.”
Jacksonville is one of two NFL teams (along with Philadelphia) that hasn’t had a 100-yard rusher this season. Leonard Fournette gained 95 yards on the ground in consecutive games last month, but hasn’t topped 50 yards rushing in the three weeks since .
“Obviously it’s shocking,” said Marrone, whose offensive identity is to run the ball and take advantage of play-action passes.
The Jaguars will try to end the skid against Miami, which ranks 31st in the league against the run.
NFL active rushing leader Frank Gore will miss the final two games because of a sprained foot, which likely will mean more snaps for Dolphins rookie Kalen Ballage.
The fourth-round draft pick from Arizona State rushed for a career-high 123 yards last week, including 75 for his first career touchdown.
Ballage wasn’t keen to discuss his performance at Minnesota.
“Not to be rude or anything,” he said, “but we lost.”
HOMECOMING OF SORTS
For Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell, a two-time all-Atlantic Coast Conference selection at the University of Miami, this trip has more meaning than most.
“It’s fun to compete in the old stomping grounds,” Campbell said. “I found a lot of success in that city in college.”
Campbell had hoped to face Gore, one of his college teammates, and still plans on getting Gore’s jersey — but not his Dolphins No. 21. Campbell, who spent the first nine years of his career in Arizona, plans on asking Gore for a San Francisco 49ers jersey since they had so many “great battles” in the NFC West.
Gore spent 10 years in San Francisco.
The Dolphins have been awful on the road, but only one AFC team has a better home record than their 6-1 mark.
Tannehill has won nine consecutive home starts. He has 17 touchdown passes and a 129.4 rating in his past six home games.
“It’s an honor to get to go out and step foot on that field every time we get to play at home,” Tannehill said. “We want to put on a good show for our fans.”
Jacksonville is 1-5 on the road, including losses of 40-7 at Dallas and 30-9 at Tennessee.
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