Just when it seemed the Miami Dolphins' season could not get any worse, it did in breathtaking fashion.
Not only did they lose to the last remaining winless team in the NFL, they set a franchise-low for rushing yards in a game. The Dolphins ran for 2 yards on 14 attempts, good for about 5 inches a carry.
Their rushing total was actually even worse when you factor in the four extra yards RB Daniel Thomas would have lost on a safety in the second quarter had they been on any other part of the field that play.
It almost was not that bad for the Dolphins. After falling behind 15-0 in the first half, Miami scored 19 points in five possessions to take a lead late in the third quarter. But the wheels fell off, as Tampa reeled off a 9-play, 80-yard touchdown drive to start the fourth quarter and reclaim the lead.
With their backs against the wall, the Dolphins could muster only 23 yards of offense in the fourth quarter, giving away a winnable game to one of the two worst teams in the NFL.
Miami was outplayed and outcoached. Tampa ran for 140 yards even though their top running back is on injured reserve. Miami ran the ball just 14 times all game (compared to 44 pass plays), and the offensive line sans Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito yielded two crushing sacks on consecutive plays during Miami's final drive.
Their performance does not bode will for Joe Philbin and his coaching staff. Given a team with talent across the roster before the season, they have failed to translate that talent into a winning record. Miami's 3-0 start is looking more and more like a mirage as the season wears on.
Before the game, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross issued a vote of confidence in coach Philbin, saying that despite the ongoing bullying scandal, "Joe Philbin is probably one of the most organized people I've ever met.
"When I interviewed him that stood out, but what also stood out was his character. I don't think there is a better person, a more respected person, a more caring person in the National Football League than Joe Philbin."
Before the season Ross said of his goals for the team, "We certainly want to make the playoffs, but I want to see growth in the team in building the foundation for this season and future seasons." If anything, the Dolphins seem to have taken two steps backward following last year's 7-9 campaign.
Regardless of the results of the NFL's investigation of the Dolphins' locker room culture, Philbin has not done much to inspire any extra confidence in Ross or Dolphins fans.
General manager Jeff Ireland could also find himself with no job security if the Dolphins' downward spiral continues, despite the contract extension he was awarded before the season. While Philbin got an endorsement from Ross Monday night, Ireland was not even mentioned.
There is still time for Miami to salvage its season. Rather improbably, the 4-5 Dolphins are only one game out of the sixth AFC playoff spot (along with 4 other teams with the same record).
But unless Miami rights the ship soon, Philbin, Ireland, and plenty of players on the Dolphins' roster could find themselves on the way out come January.