MIAMI (AP) — For the downtrodden Miami Dolphins, a brighter Sunday draws near, one that may stand as their best at season's end.
They have a bye coming up.
Otherwise, there's not much to look forward to for a team that is 0-3 and has been outscored 133-16, the NFL's largest point differential after three games since at least 1940. The Dolphins are on pace to set NFL records both for fewest points scored and most points allowed in a 16-game season.
The latest drubbing came Sunday at Dallas, when the Dolphins hung around through a sloppy first half but still lost 31-6. The offense sputtered, the defense faded and even special teams contributed: The Dolphins muffed a punt, missed a field goal and were offside when they recovered an onside kick. Getting blown out was again a team effort.
"There were a lot of shoulda, coulda, wouldas in the game," said rookie coach Brian Flores, still looking for his first win. "We've just got to make the routine plays. This is a game they have all played since they were little. We just need to stay in the present and play the way we've practiced and the way we talk about playing, and I think good things will happen."
Before the bye, the Dolphins return home Sunday and are 16 1/2-point underdogs against the Los Angeles Chargers. Here are things to know about Miami and its historically bad start:
Quarterback Josh Rosen deserved better in his first start for Miami. He was under constant pressure, received no support from the run game and had a touchdown pass dropped for the second week in a row. Rosen finished 18 of 29 for 200 yards with no turnovers.
"We are a really determined group of guys that is really prideful and just wants to put a good product of football on the field," Rosen said. "And I think we're getting there. I just don't think we've really quite hit that hump."
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The Dolphins gave up 59 points in the opener, and then 43 and 31, but that doesn't mean they're trending toward a shutout in Game 6. Instead, they remain on pace to shatter the NFL record of 533 points allowed in a season.
Miami kept a collective finger in the dike for a half at Dallas, and then allowed 21 points and 272 yards in the second half. The Dolphins have been outscored 68-0 after halftime this season.
Meanwhile, 2018 first-round pick Minkah Fitzpatrick, traded last week as part of the Dolphins' ongoing rebuilding project, had an interception and a forced fumble in his first game with the Steelers.
Defensive lineman Taco Charlton, who joined the Dolphins last week, faced his former team and had the lone sack of Dak Prescott. Charlton was a 2017 first-round draft pick by the Cowboys, who released him after he was a healthy scratch in the season's first two games.
Pro Bowl cornerback Xavien Howard was torched for two touchdowns by Amari Cooper and ejected when he got into a scuffle in the closing minutes. Howard has no interceptions after tying for the league lead with seven in 2018.
"I didn't have my best game," Howard said. "I'm really frustrated."
WR Allen Hurns (concussion) returned to South Florida on Monday after spending a night in a Dallas hospital. He's in the concussion protocol. LT Jesse Davis (arm) and RG Danny Isidora (foot) left the game but might be able to play this week, Flores said.
2011 — that's the last time Miami was 0-3. So this is a bad start even by Dolphins standards, and they haven't won a playoff game since 2000.
Flores must try to keep the locker room together as the reality sets in that 0-16 is much more likely than a playoff berth.
His message to the team? "Get better," he said.
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