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Three Takeaways: Dolphins Doused by Ravens, 56-19

A disappointing defeat with a rash of injuries to critical players puts the Dolphins in a position they invite with open arms. Head Coach Mike McDaniel regularly preaches adversity is an opportunity, and the opportunity from Sunday's 56-19 loss at Baltimore comes in the chance to win the AFC East at home in primetime.

Here are three takeaways from Miami's 56-19 loss in Baltimore:

1. Coming up short in big moments

The best part about narratives in the National Football League is that they can evaporate over the course of three hours. Sure, the Dolphins will have to stew in this blowout for 24 hours, but next Sunday is a chance to not just seize the second seed in the AFC, but win the division for the first time in 15 years and do so in front of the home crowd.

However, the Dolphins did struggle in critical moments on Sunday in Baltimore. In a game where he broke his own team record for receiving yards in a season (1,714), Tyreek Hill dropped a touchdown pass that cost Miami four points. That happened after the defense allowed Justice Hill to wind his way from one side of the field to the other and convert a third-and-16 on the Ravens' opening drive. Third downs and red zone opportunities are among the most important in NFL games and on both sides of the ball, Miami struggled in those situations.

Last week, Miami dominated the end-of-half and end-of-game situations. Late scoring marches and 10 total points on the minus side of the two-minute warning ultimately helped Miami secure the victory.

Did we mention the narrative can change quickly?

Miami got the football back with 2:58 to play in the first half, trailing 21-13 in Baltimore. A Tua Tagovailoa interception was followed up with a 36-yard touchdown catch from Ravens tight end Isaiah Likely – on fourth-and-7, no less – making it a 28-13 game.

Baltimore returned the opening kickoff of the second half to the 16-yard-line of Miami. Three plays later, it was 35-13 and the Ravens had all of the momentum.

Just as last week was a total team win, this was a total team loss, impacting all three phases.

2. An embattled group

The first takeaway comprehensively covers the game, but the aftermath might be the hardest pill for the Dolphins to swallow. Just when the Fins were looking perhaps their healthiest in months, cornerback Xavien Howard is lost on the opening series to a foot injury. Then in the fourth quarter, linebacker Bradley Chubb fell to the grass with a non-contact knee injury that did not look good.

The NFL's touchdown leader, Raheem Mostert was inactive to start the game – a game in which 1,000-yard receiver Jaylen Waddle had already been ruled out. Those injuries compound the three absent opening day starters on the offensive line – center Connor Williams and guards Isaiah Wynn and Robert Hunt – while Chubb is the second of Miami's standout edge rushers to be lost for the season with Jaelan Phillips going down in Week 12.

The Dolphins will have to dig deep to salvage the AFC East next week, a thought that's already crossed their minds.

"If we had said that after Week 4 or whatever that we're going to play this Buffalo team again, and it will be the last game of the season for the division crown, I think everyone would have accepted that," Mike McDaniel said. "That's some perspective that I talked to the team about. Their eyes were laser focused; they will be eager to wash away this past game. The only way you can do that is to prepare for the next one."

3. What's ahead

We already know the Dolphins are in the postseason. They'll be locked into either the two seed or six seed based on the result of their Week 18 matchup on Sunday, Jan. 7. It all comes down to Game No. 272 on the NFL schedule this season – Bills at Dolphins on Sunday Night Football. Kickoff is at 8:20 p.m. on NBC.

In the event of a Miami win, the team traveling to Miami for an AFC Wild Card game could be either Buffalo, Pittsburgh or Jacksonville. The Dolphins would also be in line to host an AFC Divisional game the following weekend should they prevail in the Wild Card round.

If the Bills beat the Dolphins next week, Miami will head to Kansas City in the three-six game.

For more analysis, takeaways and breakdowns, download the Drive Time Podcast with Travis Wingfield, available on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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