Red zone woes costly for Dolphins in 31-23 loss to Seattle

MIAMI (AP) — The Miami Dolphins couldn’t kick enough field goals Sunday to beat high-scoring Seattle.

They tried. Five consecutive scoring drives ended with three points, but that added up to only 15 — and a loss.

“You’re never going to beat a team like that kicking field goals,” coach Brian Flores said. “We all know and understand that.”

And yet the Dolphins kept settling. Even at the Seahawks 11-yard line, trailing by five with less than nine minutes left, Miami settled for three.

And so they settled for a 31-23 loss.

“Finishing in the red zone is definitely the most glaring thing we need to address,” center Ted Karras said. “Obviously if we finish, it’s a different game.”

The Dolphins (1-3) had 25 first downs and netted 415 yards, but against the NFC’s highest-scoring team, that wasn’t enough.

Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 315 yards, ran for 47 and took the blame for repeatedly coming up short against the Seahawks (4-0).

“Red zone execution really falls on the quarterback,” Fitzpatrick said. “For me, I walk out of this game feeling terrible. I felt like there were a lot of guys on our team that played well enough to win. I unfortunately was not one of them. When your quarterback doesn’t play up to his ability, you’re not going to win a lot of games in this league.”

Fitzpatrick threw two interceptions and had a passer rating of 66.5, which will fuel a new round of speculation that top draft pick Tua Tagovailoa should replace him. Miami plays Sunday at San Francisco.

Quarterbacking won’t be the only topic for Monday morning quarterbacks. Back-to-back coaching decisions when Miami trailed and threatened early in the fourth quarter were also debatable.

First came the third-and-3 call — a run that didn’t surprise the Seahawks. They threw Myles Gaskin for a 2-yard loss.

“Backside linebacker ran me down,” Gaskin said. “Got to be faster.”

Flores then opted to kick another field goal, which left Miami trailing 17-15 with 8 1/2 minutes left.

When the Seahawks scored touchdowns on their next two possessions, it was 31-15.

Should the Dolphins have gone for it on fourth down?

“After a game you think about every situation — you could have done this, you could have done that,” Flores said. “We’ll look at all of it and try to be better next time.”

His players were grumpy after the game, perhaps a good sign. A month into the season, the record suggests they’ve improved only slightly over 2019, when they started 0-7 and finished 5-11.

But last year they were outscored in their first four games 163-26. This year the margin is only 96-93.

“It’s bad to have that record,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s a good thing to see how upset everybody is after these losses, and knowing we’re in all these games. But we’ve got to find a way to get over the hump.”

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