miami_dolphins_poster.jpgDAVIE (AP) _ Miami Dolphins coach Tony Sparano nearly needed both hands to count missed chances. And that was just on the game's final drive.


By Sparano's tabulation, a Dolphins defender had a hand on the ball five times in the last 11 plays. But Miami literally let victory slip away.

“We didn't come up with the ball,'' Sparano said Monday. “We were in the right position; we just didn't finish.''

The Houston Texans scored a touchdown with 3 seconds left Sunday for their first win, beating Miami 29-28. That ended the Dolphins' first winning streak in two years, and at 2-3, they're back in last place in the AFC East heading into Sunday's game against the Baltimore Ravens (2-3).

The Dolphins' revamped defense looked much-improved in wins against New England and San Diego, but there was a relapse against the Texans, who set a franchise record with 485 yards. Matt Schaub threw for a career-high 379, and Andre Johnson caught 10 passes for a franchise record 178 yards.

The woeful pass coverage negated a 4-1 advantage in turnovers for Miami. The takeaways included a season-high two interceptions, and there could have been more.

“We had our hands on a lot of footballs,'' Sparano said. “Two interceptions probably could have been five.''

Most memorable was the way Johnson outmaneuvered safety Yeremiah Bell in the final minute to make a 23-yard catch on fourth-and-10.

“I went up to try to knock it down,'' Bell said. “I thought I had a bead on it, but he made a great play and a great catch.''

That kept alive the 12-play, 76-yard touchdown drive that gave Houston the win.

One play before Johnson's fourth-down save, Andre Goodman intercepted Schaub, but the ruling was changed to an incomplete pass after replays showed Goodman trapped the ball.

On the first play of the final drive, Joey Porter stripped Schaub. Referee Ed Hochuli ruled the play an incomplete pass rather than a fumble, saying Schaub's arm was moving forward when hit.

“I know for sure that I had both his arms when the ball came out,'' Porter said after the game. “I'm looking for an apology or something on Tuesday or Wednesday on NFL Network, but it will be too late by then. The game's over.''

When asked Monday about the ruling, Sparano said: “I'm not going to go into what I thought about it. But I thought it was a hell of a play by Joey.''

Hochuli has been at the center of several disputed decisions this season, included a call he acknowledged he blew as Denver rallied past San Diego.

Porter's comments aside, the Dolphins blamed themselves. Safety Renaldo Hill dropped an interception in the fourth quarter that could have helped seal the win.

“Because of that, I don't sleep,'' Hill said. “It hurts. We let it slip through our fingers.''

Misplays in the secondary are nothing new to the Dolphins, who gave up completions of 79 and 75 yards in a loss against Arizona last month. But this was different, Sparano said.

“It's not like they were mental errors,'' he said. “At Arizona, we had mental errors. It wasn't like that. We were in position pretty well.

“Bad day? Yeah, maybe. You come up with a couple of those balls, now it's a great day.''

The secondary also did a poor job of tackling. As a result, Johnson and his teammates gained 20 yards or more on nine plays.

“That team had a bunch of run-after-catch yards,'' Sparano said. “It's way too many. If they make the catch and you put them on the ground, we could be looking at a completely different offensive game for them.''

Poor execution wasn't limited to the defense. Sparano said there were 11 missed tackles on special teams, a problem area all season. The offense went 2-for-10 on third-down conversions, in part because the wideouts again struggled to get open and totaled only 58 yards.

Then there was the final play from scrimmage, when Sparano and his staff were simply outsmarted by the Texans and coach Gary Kubiak. On fourth down at the 3, Houston lined up in a spread formation, and with the Dolphins focused on the flanks, Schaub ran up the middle untouched for the winning touchdown.

“Sometimes you give credit to the people on the other side,'' Sparano said. “That was a gutsy call. In that situation, if it fails and the ball didn't go to (Johnson), then you're going to be second-guessed. It was a good call.''