The 2011 Miami Dolphins season was the franchise's 42nd season in the National Football League, the 46th overall and the fourth under head coach Tony Sparano. The Dolphins made their first round selection with the 15th pick of the 2011 NFL Draft on Floridaoffensive linemanMike Pouncey. The team got off to an 0–7 start and won six of their final nine games, but failed to improve on their record from 2010, resulting in Sparano being fired on December 12, 2011.
DraftKing.com, NFLMocks.com, and The Palm Beach Post predicted that the Dolphins would use their first round pick to choose Gabe Carimi, a left tackle for the Wisconsin Badgers who won the 2010 Outland Trophy as the nation's top collegiate interior lineman, and was a Consensus All-American. Charles Davis of NFL.com predicted they would draft Mark Ingram Jr. from the University of Alabama.
^The Dolphins traded its third-round selection (#79 overall), fifth-round selection (#146 overall) and a seventh-round selection (#217 overall) to the Washington Redskins in exchange for a second-round selection (#62 overall).
^The Dolphins traded its sixth-round selection (#179 overall) and seventh-round selection (#218 overall) to the Green Bay Packers for their sixth-round selection (#174 overall) and seventh-round selection (#231 overall).
The Dolphins began their 2011 campaign at home, for a Week 1 AFC East duel with the New England Patriots in the first game of Monday Night Football's doubleheader. Miami delivered the game's opening splash with a 9-yard touchdown run from quarterback Chad Henne. The Patriots answered with running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis getting a 4-yard touchdown run. New England took the lead in the second quarter as quarterback Tom Brady completed a 10-yard touchdown pass to tight end Rob Gronkowski.
The Dolphins struck back in the third quarter as Henne found wide receiver Brian Hartline on a 10-yard touchdown pass, but New England came right back with Brady completing a 2-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Wes Welker. Miami replied with a 20-yard field goal from kicker Dan Carpenter, but the Patriots came right back with Brady completing a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Aaron Hernandez. New England added onto their in the fourth quarter as kicker Stephen Gostkowski got a 20-yard field goal, followed by Brady completing a 99-yard touchdown pass to Welker. The Dolphins would close out the game with Henne finding running back Reggie Bush on a 2-yard touchdown pass.
Coming off their win over the Redskins, the Dolphins stayed at home for a Week 11 AFC East showdown with the Buffalo Bills. Miami trailed early in the first quarter as Bills kicker Dave Rayner made a 30-yard field goal, yet the Dolphins immediately answered with quarterback Matt Moore finding tight end Anthony Fasano on a 1-yard touchdown pass, followed by a 5-yard touchdown run from running back Reggie Bush. Miami would add onto their lead in the second quarter with Moore connecting with fullback Charles Clay on a 12-yard touchdown pass, followed by wide receiver Davone Bess on a 4-yard touchdown pass. Buffalo would close out the half with Rayner booting a 56-yard field goal.
The Dolphins continued their dominating day in the third quarter with running back Lex Hilliard recovering a blocked punt in the endzone for a touchdown (the team's first TD off of a blocked punt since 1990). The Bills tried to rally as linebacker Kelvin Sheppard tackled rookie running back Daniel Thomas in the endzone for a safety, but Miami's lead proved to be too much to overcome.
With the win, the Dolphins improved to 3–7.
This game also marked the first time since 1990 that Miami allowed 10 points or fewer in three-straight games.
They have now become the 3rd team in NFL History to win 3 straight after starting season at least 0–7 ('78 Cardinals & '86 Colts).
Coming off their win over the Bills, the Dolphins flew to Cowboys Stadium for a Week 12 interconference duel with the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving. Miami delivered the game's opening punch in the first quarter with a 26-yard field goal from kicker Shayne Graham, but the Cowboys answered in the second quarter with kicker Dan Bailey getting a 32-yard field goal, followed by quarterback Tony Romo completing a 5-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Laurent Robinson. The Dolphins would close out the half with a 28-yard field goal from Graham.
Miami would regain the lead in the third quarter with a 27-yard field goal from Graham, followed by quarterback Matt Moore finding wide receiver Brandon Marshall on a 35-yard field goal. Dallas struck back in the fourth quarter with Romo completing an 18-yard touchdown pass to Robinson. The Dolphins would reply with a 23-yard field goal from Graham, but the Cowboys got the last laugh with Bailey nailing the game-winning 28-yard field goal.
With the loss, the Dolphins dropped to 4–9, and were officially eliminated from postseason contention. One day later (December 12), head coach Tony Sparano was fired and replaced by assistant coach Todd Bowles on an interim basis for the remainder of the season.
The Dolphins closed out their season with a 19–17 win over the Jets that knocked the Jets out of playoff contention. The Dolphins intercepted Mark Sanchez three times and limited him to 235 passing yards. The win was the 400th in Miami Dolphins franchise history and the final game for Jason Taylor, held to one tackle in the game; he recovered what was initially ruled a fumble by the Jets and raced to a touchdown, but the score was nullified when it the ball was ruled down by contact.