Offense continues to hold Dolphins back

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Here are some numbers to consider: 14, 20, 17 and 7. These are the amounts of points the Miami Dolphins have scored in their past four games.

The offense continues to hold the Dolphins back from being anything more than a mediocre team. That again was the case Sunday as the Dallas Cowboys took a 24-14 win over Miami at Sun Life Stadium.

Beyond a few flashes, quarterback Ryan Tannehill and Co. continue to bumble their way through games. Tannehill started slowly once again and threw a pick-six to get the Cowboys going. This proved to be a big play in an otherwise close game. The play calling isn't aggressive or creative enough and the team can’t finish drives.

Miami’s offense was 1-of-10 on third down and had too many untimely penalties that stalled drives.

The Dolphins (4-6) have split their six games under interim head coach Dan Campbell, who, like his predecessor Joe Philbin, cannot seem to find consistency with this group. It’s hard to win with an offense that is averaging just 14.5 points per game the past four weeks.

What it means: At 4-6, the Dolphins are all but done when it comes to the postseason. Sunday was a golden opportunity to get back to .500 with six games remaining. That would have opened up a lot of possibilities. But Miami pretty much has to run the table the rest of the way to have a decent shot. The team hasn’t shown anything in the first 10 games to think a sudden hot streak is possible.

Defending Romo: The big story coming into the game was how Miami’s defense would defend returning Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, who missed nearly two months with a broken collarbone. The Dolphins’ defense took advantage of some early rust by Romo. He missed a couple of open throws in the first half and also threw an interception. But Romo warmed up in the final three quarters with touchdown passes in the second and fourth quarters. He finished with 227 passing yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Linebacker issues: The Dolphins, as expected, were thin at linebacker. Starter Jelani Jenkins (ankle) was inactive and fellow starter Koa Misi (abdomen) was active but did not play. The team went with rookie outside linebackers Zach Vigil and Neville Hewitt for a majority of the game. Hewitt had an interception off Romo in the third quarter.

No safety record: A growing storyline in the past three weeks has been Miami’s penchant for allowing safeties. The team tied an NFL record last week with a safety in its third consecutive game. However, Miami ended that odd streak by going Sunday’s game without a safety. This year’s Dolphins are tied for the record with the 1980 Seattle Seahawks and 1970 Pittsburgh Steelers.

What’s next: The Dolphins will head back on the road next week with a divisional game against the rival New York Jets. Miami lost to New York earlier this season and is 0-4 against the AFC East.