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Poor tackling, sputtering passing game doom Dolphins in 34-15 loss to Chiefs

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MIAMI GARDENS, Florida — The Miami Dolphins had a 100-yard rusher, a two-turnover edge and five sacks against the opposing quarterback — yet still lost.

By 19 points.

That's tough to do, but poor tackling and a sputtering passing game doomed Miami in a 34-15 loss to the injury-riddled Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

The Dolphins fell to 1-2, another wobbly start for a team that hasn't won a postseason game since 2000.

"We have to look at everything we're doing," coach Joe Philbin said. "There was no phase where we played well enough to win."

The Chiefs improved to 1-2 and won for only the third time in their past 11 games, including the playoffs.

Miami's Lamar Miller gained 108 yards rushing, but it wasn't nearly enough.

"We let things slip through our fingers," defensive end Cameron Wake said in a locker room that emptied quickly. "You can't play roller-coaster football. You have to go out and play every down."

Ryan Tannehill struggled for the third game in a row, this time against a pass defense ranked as the worst in the NFL. He went 21 for 43 for 205 yards and was sacked four times.

Many fans streamed for the exits in the final minutes, while others lingered to boo the offense.

Even when the Dolphins put up points, they could look inept. One scoring drive covered zero yards in four plays, sandwiched between rookie Jarvis Landry's 74-yard kickoff return and Caleb Sturgis' 51-yard field goal.

And after Brian Hartline caught a 1-yard touchdown pass, he celebrated by practicing his putting stroke and was flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct.

PHOTO: Kansas City Chiefs running back Cyrus Gray (32) scores a touchdown past Miami Dolphins cornerback Will Davis, right, during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014, in Miami Gardens, Fla. The Chiefs defeated the Dolphins 34-15. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Kansas City Chiefs running back Cyrus Gray (32) scores a touchdown past Miami Dolphins cornerback Will Davis, right, during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014, in Miami Gardens, Fla. The Chiefs defeated the Dolphins 34-15. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

"I just like to golf, and it just popped into my head," Hartline said. "I guess I've got to go back to dancing."

Philbin gave his many second-guessers fresh fodder. When the Dolphins ran on third-and-10 at the Chiefs 45, they gained 4 yards and had to punt. On fourth-and-2 at the Chiefs 30, they attempted a 47-yard field goal and missed it in a scoreless game.

And trailing by six points in the fourth quarter at midfield, Tannehill was sacked trying to throw on third-and-1, forcing a punt.

"It's things we're doing to ourselves — self-inflicted pain," Hartline said.

Smith led touchdown drives of 62, 76 and 66 yards in a span of four possessions as Kansas City took a 21-10 lead. The defense protected the early advantage, allowing only four third-down conversions.

Smith, who ranked 35th and last in the NFL in passing after two weeks, went 19 for 25 for 186 yards, with three of his incompletions dropped.

The Chiefs were without seven starters, including running back Jamaal Charles, who was inactive because of a high ankle sprain. Knile Davis, subbing for Charles, repeatedly broke tackles en route to a career-high 132 yards.

"I think I stepped up," Davis said. "I ran hard — made a few mistakes, but I took the workload today and I enjoyed it."

Kansas City totaled 23 first downs despite shaky pass protection. One sack of Smith resulted in a safety, and another by Jared Odrick forced a fumble that set up Miami's only touchdown.

Notes: Dolphins LT Branden Albert was called for holding and beaten for a sack against his former team. ... Before the game, the Dolphins inducted Jeff Cross, Tony Nathan, Ed Newman and Sam Madison into their Walk of Fame.


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