It's a Miami meltdown

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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — The longest road trip in the NFL wound up demonstrating just how far these Seahawks still have to go.

They traveled nearly 3,000 miles to the opposite corner of the country only to blow a pair of fourth-quarter leads to Miami, allowing 17 points in a nine-minute meltdown that culminated with the Dolphins kicking a 43-yard field goal on the final play.

Dolphins 24, Seahawks 21. Don’t let that three-point margin fool you, though. Seattle turned in a stinker down in south Florida.

“If we perform like that, you’re going to get beat,” coach Pete Carroll said.

And while Seattle returned to Washington on Sunday night, whether Seattle can come back from this defeat remains to be seen.

This Seahawks team that has playoff ambition lost for the fifth time in six road games. This Seattle defense that was supposed to be the strength of this team surrendered a fourth-quarter lead for the second consecutive road game.

That doesn’t even get into the fact ESPN reported Sunday night that starting cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman each face four-game suspensions under the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. The punishments are being appealed, and the Seahawks cornerbacks are expected to be available for the game next week at Chicago, but the news of their suspensions was one final kick in the shorts on a day that was nothing short of awful for the Seahawks.

Above all, the Seahawks lost exactly the kind of game they have to find a way to win if they’re going to reach the playoffs, and instead fell to 6-5.

“We know we’re a hell of a team at home,” defensive tackle Red Bryant said. “But in the National Football League, you have to be able to win tough games on the road. So far this year, that’s a part of our game we haven’t been able to translate just yet.

“You don’t get a lot of opportunities, so you’ve got to seize them, and I feel like we let one go today.”

Quarterback Russell Wilson completed 16 consecutive passes during the game, a record for NFL rookies. He threw for two touchdowns, he was not intercepted and running back Leon Washington returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

The fact that Seattle still lost gives you an idea of just how sloppy it was the rest of the game.

The Seahawks had as many penalties in the first half as points, logging seven of each, and they weren’t that far behind in punts with five. Seattle’s offense failed to gain a first down during the opening period.

Then, after Seattle’s offense found its footing, the defense was savaged by a Miami offense that hadn’t exactly been competent.

The Dolphins’ offense had 10 total points in its previous two games. They scored 17 in the final nine minutes. Miami hadn’t rushed for more than 100 yards as a team in any game since Week 3, but gained 189 yards on the ground Sunday.

“Just undisciplined,” safety Kam Chancellor said. “It all came down to discipline.”

As poorly as Seattle played, the Seahawks had plenty of chances to win this one. Wilson’s touchdown passes — first to tight end Anthony McCoy and then to fullback Michael Robinson — gave Seattle a 14-7 lead in the third quarter.

The Seahawks couldn’t hold that lead. They left Davone Bess uncovered on the back end in a fourth-quarter play that resulted in a 39-yard gain, setting up a touchdown by putting Miami in the red zone.

Washington’s 98-yard kickoff return gave Seattle another lead. Reggie Bush rushed for 33 yards on Miami’s ensuing drive, which resulted in a 29-yard touchdown pass to tight end Charles Clay.

And as far as Seattle traveled for this game, it was Miami that made the most meaningful progress as it drove 65 yards in the final 1:32 to set up the game-winning field goal.

Now the only question is how costly that come-from-ahead defeat will be for Seattle.

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