KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Dolphins needed to beat the Kansas City Chiefs at frosty Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, then have six other scenarios break their way, to have any hope of reaching the postseason.
They couldn’t even handle the first step.
Miami failed to convert a single third down, coughed the ball up twice in the cold weather and struggled to move the ball against a stingy Chiefs defense. And the result was a 29-13 victory that effectively ended the Dolphins’ longest of longshot playoff hopes.
“It happens in the NFL,” said Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry, who was part of a 10-win season a year ago. “A lot of the games we could have won this year, we didn’t. Turnovers, penalties, you know. Things that showed up today. That’ll get you beat any day in the NFL.”
It certainly got them beat by the Chiefs.
Landry coughed up the first fumble on the opening of the possession of the game, giving the Chiefs a short field that led to a field goal. Kenny Stills coughed up another fumble later on, one that the Chiefs turned into yet another of their five field goals.
Then there were the penalties: The Dolphins committed 11 for 75 yards, but it was the rare flags on defense that were most costly. They were whistled four times for defensive holds, giving the Chiefs free first downs, and all of them came on Kansas City scoring drives.
“When you play together you don’t have these problems,” Dolphins coach Adam Gase said.
Frustration appeared to boil over at one point, when yet another drive failed to net points, and Landry appeared to be yelling at Gase on the sideline. Landry disputed the notion there was any argument with his coach, but he did acknowledge the emotionally charged outburst.
“It’s normal for anybody to show frustration at that point, understanding that this is our season,” Landry said. “I think that we didn’t get the ball back until under two minutes after that drive. Anybody would be frustrated at that point. I’m sure you guys would be frustrated as well. But I wasn’t yelling at Adam or trying to show him up or anything.”
There were a few bright spots on a cold, windy day at Arrowhead Stadium.
Jay Cutler threw for 286 yards and a touchdown, which happened to be a 65-yard strike to Jakeem Grant late in the first half. The defense held the Chiefs in check much of the first half. Landry had five catches for 51 yards to take over the NFL receptions lead with 103, while Kenyan Drake ran for 57 yards on just 13 carries — his production limited by the Dolphins having to play catch-up.
But much like their season, those highs were too often followed by crushing lows: the fumbles, the penalties, the miscommunication that led to errant throws downfield.
The Dolphins (6-9) also ran into a Chiefs team peaking after its own dry spell, one that has followed a four-game skid with three straight wins to capture the AFC West title.
The result is a meaningless regular-season finale against Buffalo next week, followed by a postseason spent watching at home for the eighth time in the last nine years.
“Our biggest thing was just focusing on this one and we didn’t do that,” Landry said. “Last week we didn’t do our part out in Buffalo as well. You can’t look at anybody or blame anybody else.”