NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — Miami Dolphins coach Tony Sparano is worried about his job security, and no wonder.
Sparano could sense a seemingly insurmountable lead slipping away on Sunday, and after calling a timeout, he implored two officials to review a touchdown just scored by the Denver Broncos.
“If I don’t call a timeout, I’m (sunk) and now I’m getting fired, OK?” he screamed while pointing toward the team owner’s skybox.
The desperation in Sparano’s demeanor was understandable, but his plea for sympathy — captured by a CBS Miami camera — went unheeded. The touchdown was upheld on review, accelerating the Broncos’ astounding comeback for an 18-15 overtime victory.
A source told The Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero after the game that Sparano will “continue to coach his winless team for now.” Meaning the embattled coach will be on the sidelines when the Dolphins take on the Giants at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.
Miami’s collapse after being up 15-0 was epic in scale — the first time since at least 1983 that a team had blown a lead of more than 14 points with three minutes to go, according to STATS LLC. The defeat left the Dolphins 0-6.
The 2012 Dolphins were favored for the first time against Denver, and might not be again. They opened as 10-point underdogs for Sunday’s road game against the Giants.
A nine-game losing streak, the NFL’s longest, has transformed Sparano into a virtual lame duck who seems certain to be fired at season’s end, if not before. Owner Stephen Ross courted Jim Harbaugh last January before sticking with Sparano, and there’s speculation Ross will pursue another big name, such as Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden or Steve Fisher.
Or former Florida Gators coach Urban Meyer. The wild final minutes of Sunday’s game included the odd spectacle of Ross standing on the sideline laughing and chatting with Meyer, who was in attendance because of the Dolphins’ wildly unpopular decision to honor the Gators’ 2008 national championship team.
Thirty minutes after Denver’s Matt Prater kicked the winning field goal, Ross was airborne in his private jet and bound for business in Seattle, leaving behind a season in tatters and a coach trying to hang on.
“Coach is a great guy,” defensive end Jared Odrick said Monday. “I love him, and the rest of this team does. His will to win is as strong as anybody I’ve ever met, and it’s hard on everybody when you don’t win games you should.”
The Dolphins had hoped to challenge for a postseason berth, but instead they lead the race for next year’s No. 1 draft pick and Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. If the season ended today, the Dolphins would receive the first choice, beating out the winless Rams and Colts based on a strength-of-schedule tiebreaker.
There are a lot of games still to be lost. But while the Dolphins bristle at the suggestion they should stop trying to win, the competition for Luck might make them play worse.
“All that ‘Suck for Luck’ chatter can’t be good for morale,” former Dolphin Ricky Williams tweeted.
The blown fourth-quarter lead was the second for the Dolphins, who lost by a point at Cleveland last month. Sparano conceded finishing isn’t his team’s strong suit.
“I’d love to be in one of these, like, 38-0 jobbers where we just go out and demolish somebody,” Sparano said.
Not likely — the Dolphins have scored seven touchdowns in six games. No player has more than one TD this year.
“I talk to myself a lot,” he said. “I figure if nobody usually answers back, that’s a good thing. If somebody starts answering back, that’s a bad thing.”
The embattled coach mustered a smile. Winless with the clock running out, he’ll try to grin and bear it.
Will Big Blue put the kibosh on Sparano’s time in Miami? Fire away in the comments below…
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