Mired in scandal, Dolphins face Chargers

By STEVEN WINE - AP Sports Writer
    2013-11-14 15:53

MIAMI (AP) - The stands will make a statement Sunday regarding the state of the Miami Dolphins.

A harassment case and a succession of dismal defeats have sent the Dolphins reeling, and they'll play at home for the first time since the scandal broke when they face the San Diego Chargers.

Fans are expected to stay away in large numbers. The Dolphins' stadium has been half-empty several times already this season, and now the loyalty of even the most ardent supporters is being tested.

Miami has lost five of the past six games, including a dreadful defeat Monday at previously winless Tampa Bay. The harassment case has prompted an NFL investigation, raised questions about the team's locker room culture, and left the future of coach Joe Philbin and general manager Jeff Ireland in doubt.

''It has been an ugly, ugly two weeks for the Miami Dolphins,'' retired linebacker Kim Bokamper told the Dolphins Touchdown Club. ''It has been chaos. It seems like a faucet dripping. Every day another drop drips.''

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill's message to fans: ''Hang in there.''

''We're going to battle through this thing,'' he said. ''We're going to get this situation sorted out in the locker room. Whatever needs to take place, whatever decisions need to be made, that's what we're going to do. On the field we're just going to keep pressing forward and continue to fight and get better. We're in a tough spot right now, but at the end of the day we're still in the playoff hunt.''

Here are five keys to look for in the game, even if a lot of folks in Miami don't watch:

PLAYOFF PICTURE: The Dolphins (4-5) have looked nothing like postseason contenders lately, but they began the week tied with the Chargers and three other teams for seventh place in the race for the six AFC playoff spots.

San Diego's a staggering five games behind unbeaten Kansas City in the AFC West, and Miami trails AFC East leader New England by three games, but both still have a wild-card shot.

''There were a lot of teams in a very similar position that we are in right now,'' Philbin said. ''November and December decide a lot. The teams that have the great character, the great chemistry, find a way to fight through the obstacles and adversity, and perform at a high level this time of the year. That's what we have to do.''

If Miami and San Diego finish with the same record, the game could serve as the tiebreaker for a playoff berth, which makes it even more important.

''We can't worry about seven weeks down the road from now,'' Chargers coach Mike McCoy said. ''That will all work itself out. You have to win this one.''

CAN EITHER TEAM BLOCK?: Both offensive lines are a mess. The Chargers have played 16 combinations in their front five, while the Dolphins are without two starters because of the harassment scandal.

Tackle Jonathan Martin left the team nearly three weeks ago, and following his allegations of harassment by teammates, guard Richie Incognito was suspended. Miami then ran for a franchise-record low of 2 yards against the Buccaneers, averaging 5 inches per carry.

''If we blocked them well enough, we could probably get 6 or maybe 7 inches,'' offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said.

SLIDING RIVERS: Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers slid when he had more room to run and came up short of a first down in the first quarter of last week's loss against Denver, and two plays later San Diego settled for a field goal.

Some saw the slide as a symbol for a season gone awry with mistakes. Rivers said he would do the same thing again, even though he has slid just short of a first down when running several times this year.

''It being second down, I wasn't paying too much attention to the chains,'' Rivers said. ''It's run as far as you can and get down. After watching it, sure I could have dove or maybe ran two more steps, but I think I would do that 10 out of 10 times on second-and-6 early in the game. It's not so much I'm worried about being hit, but you obviously have to be smart.''

WHITHER WALLACE?: The Dolphins gave newcomer Mike Wallace a $60 million, five-year contract this year because they expected him to stretch the defense and provide big plays long missing from Miami's offense.

That hasn't happened. Wallace has one touchdown and is averaging a career-low 12.4 yards per catch with nine drops, while Miami ranks third worst in the league in yards.

''We need more explosive plays on our offense,'' Philbin said. ''Certainly I wouldn't argue that.''

Wallace and the Dolphins will face a Chargers defense allowing opponents to complete 68 percent of their passes for an average of 8.6 yards per attempt, both worst in the NFL.

PLAYOFF MEMORIES: On Jan. 2, 1982, the Chargers blew a 24-point lead, rallied in the final minute of regulation and beat the Dolphins 41-38 in overtime. San Diego's Dan Fouts threw for 433 yards, Don Strock threw for 403, and the game was voted the NFL's Game of the `80s by the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

That's the last time the Chargers won in Miami, where they have since lost six games in a row.


AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL


Follow Steven Wine on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Steve-Wine

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Jarvis LandryNov 29 12:13p

Miami Dolphins WRs Jarvis Landry (knee) and Rishard Matthews (illness) are both officially active for Week 12's game against the New York Jets.

Rishard MatthewsNov 29 12:13p

Miami Dolphins WRs Jarvis Landry (knee) and Rishard Matthews (illness) are both officially active for Week 12's game against the New York Jets.

Marcus EasleyNov 29 12:03p

The Buffalo Bills have declared OT Cyrus Kouandjio, OG John Miller, QB Josh Johnson, DL Kyle Williams, WR Marcus Easley, DL Mario Williams, OG Ryan Groy inactive for Week 12.

A. Seferian-JenkinsNov 29 12:03p

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have declared OG Ali Marpet, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, WR Donteea Dye, DL George Johnson, CB Keith Tandy, DL Kourtnei Brown, QB Ryan W. Griffin inactive for Week 12.

Garrett GraysonNov 29 12:03p

The New Orleans Saints have declared CB Damian Swann, LB Dannell Ellerbe, LB David Hawthorne, QB Garrett Grayson, DT Kaleb Eulls, OG Mike McGlynn, DL Phillip Hunt inactive for Week 12.

Phillip DorsettNov 29 12:03p

The Indianapolis Colts have declared QB Andrew Luck, OT Anthony Castonzo, LB Bjoern Werner, FS Mike Adams, WR Phillip Dorsett, LB Sio Moore, OG Todd Herremans inactive for Week 12.

Larry DonnellNov 29 12:03p

The New York Giants have declared SS Cooper Taylor, DL George Selvie, WR Geremy Davis, OT Justin Pugh, TE Larry Donnell, CB Leon McFadden, OG Weston Richburg inactive for Week 12.

Jake StoneburnerNov 29 12:03p

The Miami Dolphins have declared TE Brandon D. Williams, DL Chris McCain, OT Ja'Wuan James, TE Jake Stoneburner, LB James-Michael Johnson, WR Matt Hazel, OT Ulrick John inactive for Week 12.

D.J. FlukerNov 29 11:53a

The San Diego Chargers have declared S Adrian Phillips, LB Cordarro Law, OT D.J. Fluker, DL Damion Square, CB Greg Ducre, LB Kavell Conner, OT King Dunlap inactive for Week 12.

Harrison SmithNov 29 11:53a

The Minnesota Vikings have declared LB Edmond Robinson, FS Harrison Smith, OT Jeremiah Sirles, DL Justin Trattou, OT Nick Easton, QB Taylor Heinicke, CB Trae Waynes inactive for Week 12.

Matt BryantNov 29 11:53a

The Atlanta Falcons have declared OT Bryce Harris, RB Devonta Freeman, C James Stone, WR Leonard Hankerson, DL Malliciah Goodman, PK Matt Bryant, CB Phillip Adams inactive for Week 12.

Greg ZuerleinNov 29 11:53a

The St. Louis Rams have declared OT Andrew Donnal, QB Case Keenum, DL Ethan Westbrooks, PK Greg Zuerlein, OT Isaiah Battle, DL Robert Quinn, CB Trumaine Johnson inactive for Week 12.

Dexter McClusterNov 29 11:53a

The Tennessee Titans have declared NT Al Woods, WR Andrew Turzilli, CB Cody Riggs, DL Derrick Morgan, RB Dexter McCluster, OT Jeremiah Poutasi, DL Mike Martin inactive for Week 12.

Mario AlfordNov 29 11:53a

The Cincinnati Bengals have declared TE C.J. Uzomah, OT Cedric Ogbuehi, DT Marcus Hardison, DL Margus Hunt, WR Mario Alford, DL Pat Sims, LB Paul Dawson inactive for Week 12.

Charcandrick WestNov 29 11:43a

The Kansas City Chiefs have declared QB Aaron Murray, DL Allen Bailey, OG Ben Grubbs, RB Charcandrick West, DL David King, WR De'Anthony Thomas, DL Dee Ford inactive for Week 12.

Taiwan JonesNov 29 11:43a

The Oakland Raiders have declared TE Gabe Holmes, DB Keith McGill, OT Khalif Barnes, LB Neiron Ball, WR Rod Streater, C Rodney Hudson, RB Taiwan Jones inactive for Week 12.

R. Griffin IIINov 29 11:43a

The Washington Redskins have declared OG Arie Kouandjio, CB Deshazor Everett, DL Frank Kearse, TE Je'Ron Hamm, LB Keenan Robinson, QB Robert Griffin III, SS Trenton Robinson inactive for Week 12.

Bernard PierceNov 29 11:43a

The Jacksonville Jaguars have declared RB Bernard Pierce, SS Craig Loston, LB Dan Skuta, RB Joe Banyard, C Luke Bowanko, DT Michael Z. Bennett, WR Neal Sterling inactive for Week 12.

Jaelen StrongNov 29 11:43a

The Houston Texans have declared CB A.J. Bouye, QB Brandon Weeden, TE Garrett Graham, WR Jaelen Strong, DL Jeoffrey Pagan, OT Oday Aboushi, FS Rahim Moore inactive for Week 12.

Michael FloydNov 29 10:53a

Arizona Cardinals WR Michael Floyd (hamstring) is expected to play in Week 12's game against the San Francisco 49ers, according to a source.

Zach HockerNov 29 04:13a

St. Louis Rams TE Justice Cunningham was cut by the team Saturday, Nov. 28, to make room for PK Zach Hocker on the active roster.

Michael WilliamsNov 28 08:23p

New England Patriots TE Michael Williams (knee) has been ruled out against the Denver Broncos in Week 12.

Danny AmendolaNov 28 07:43p

New England Patriots WR Danny Amendola (knee) has been ruled out for Week 12.

Jamie CollinsNov 28 07:43p

New England Patriots LB Jamie Collins (illness) has been downgraded to out for Week 12 against the Denver Broncos.

Bryce BrownNov 28 04:43p

Seattle Seahawks RB Bryce Brown was released Saturday, Nov. 28.

Nick FolesNov 28 02:43p

St. Louis Rams QB Nick Foles is expected to start in Week 12 against the Cincinnati Bengals with QB Case Keenum (concussion) still recovering from a concussion, according to a source.

Zach HockerNov 28 02:23p

Free-agent PK Zach Hocker (Saints) is signing with the St. Louis Rams Saturday, Nov. 28, incase PK Greg Zuerlein (groin) is unable to play, according to a source.

Greg ZuerleinNov 28 02:23p

Free-agent PK Zach Hocker (Saints) is signing with the St. Louis Rams Saturday, Nov. 28, incase PK Greg Zuerlein (groin) is unable to play, according to a source.

Spencer WareNov 28 11:03a

Kansas City Chiefs RB Spencer Ware will have a role on offense against the Buffalo Bills in Week 12 even if RB Charcandrick West (hamstring) is able to play.

Travis KelceNov 27 07:43p

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (ankle) tweaked his ankle in practice Friday, Nov. 27, but head coach Andy Reid thinks Kelce will be fine for Week 12 against the Buffalo Bills.

Danny AmendolaNov 27 07:33p

New England Patriots WR Danny Amendola (knee) was limited in practice for the second straight day Friday, Nov. 27, and is questionable for Week 12 against the Denver Broncos.

Emmanuel SandersNov 27 07:23p

Denver Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders (ankle, finger) and TE Owen Daniels (knee) both practiced in full Friday, Nov. 27, and are probable against the New England Patriots in Week 12.

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