MIAMI – The Dolphins have lost four of their last five games. And they have a chance to share the AFC East lead with a victory over New England today.


“It is kind of strange, but that is the way it has been going this year,” defensive end Jason Taylor said. “We have seen it in years past in other divisions and now it is in ours. It is good for us because we have messed around a little bit and let them get away and haven’t played our best football to date.

“We still have a chance to be where we need to be.”

Despite their 3-5 record, the Dolphins still think they can be a playoff team.

The Patriots lead the division at 4-4, while Buffalo is tied with Miami at 3-5.

“There is no reason we can’t,” linebacker Zach Thomas said. “We have to play consistent. We have been playing up and down, but the big key is, we have to execute on defense and take advantage of mistakes, especially if we play at home.”

The reward for winning today has not gone unnoticed in the Miami locker room and that, in of itself, may be a motivational tool coaches may be able to use.

“It is definitely something to play for and I think everybody knows the situation playing for the opportunity to be tied for first place,” running back Ronnie Brown said. “I think that should be a little bit of a motivation for everybody coming into this week.”

Hang time

Punter Donnie Jones is averaging 44.1 yards per punt. More importantly, he is averaging a league-high 40.7 net, which is the average after return yardage and touchbacks are subtracted.

“Somebody told me that the other day and I was a little surprised, but it’s pretty cool,” said Jones, who is in his second year after playing for coach Nick Saban at LSU. Jones spent last season with Seattle. “Our coverage units are so good that it makes my job a lot easier. When you have guys like Bryan Gilmore and Yeremiah Bell out there, just make sure you do it right and it’ll be OK.”

Missing Rodney

Tight end Randy McMichael said he’s going to miss facing New England strong safety Rodney Harrison, who was knocked out for the season with a knee injury earlier this year.

McMichael and Harrison have had plenty of tough bouts over the years. Two years ago, McMichael accused Harrison of being a cheap-shot artist.

But McMichael’s feelings have nothing to do with revenge or any type of negative emotion.

“We’re friends,” McMichael said. “Rodney is a good guy. I called him after he got hurt and told him to hang in there. He called me after I got my new contract. We’re good.”

But what about the cheap-shot accusations?

“That’s just on-the-field stuff. That doesn’t mean anything,” McMichael said.

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