NFL Wire News

Dolphins-Vikings: What we learned

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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — The Miami Dolphins failed to make the playoffs for the sixth straight year but still managed to save their coach’s job.

Moments after Miami rallied to defeat the Minnesota Vikings 37-35 on Sunday at Sun Life Stadium, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross announced that coach Joe Philbin will return next season.

“You don’t have to keep asking me that question,” Ross said, alluding to the rumors that Philbin would be fired after this season. “The coach is coming back. The coach has a year on his contract, and we’re bringing him back.

“I believe in what we are building, and I believe in this coach. He’s the right guy.”

Miami was pushed out of the playoff race earlier Sunday when the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Kansas City Chiefs.

Back at Sun Life, the winning points were scored on a safety with 41 seconds left.

Vikings punter Jeff Locke fielded a low snap on one hop, and Dolphins backup defensive end Terrence Fede blocked the punt out of the end zone.

“We intimidated the long snapper, and he gave us a bad snap,” said Fede, crediting tight end Dion Sims and linebacker Jason Trusnik with the intimidation. “When I saw (the snap) on the ground, I aborted the mission and went for the block.”

Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill passed for 396 yards and a career-high four touchdowns to help the Dolphins (8-7) end a two-game losing streak.

Tannehill’s performance spoiled the homecoming of Vikings rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who is from Miami.

Bridgewater completed 19 of 26 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns for Minnesota (6-9). Bridgewater is now 5-6 as a starter.

“It’s tough,” Bridgewater said of the loss, “especially being from Miami. I probably won’t hear the end of it.”

What the Dolphins said:

“I want to compete for championships, so it’s disappointing we’re not in (the playoffs).” — coach Joe Philbin.

What the Vikings said:

“It was not a good day for us. We made too many mistakes. We had penalties in crucial situations. It just wasn’t a good day.” — coach Mike Zimmer.

What we learned about the Dolphins:

1. Head coach Joe Philbin is coming back. It’s a bit of a surprise because the Dolphins have been eliminated for the playoffs for the sixth straight year. The Dolphins went 8-8 last season, and owner Stephen Ross, when he announced that Philbin was coming back for 2014, said he wanted to see progress. Well, the Dolphins are now 8-7 and out of the playoffs with one more game to go. Even if the Dolphins beat the lowly New York Jets next week, that would not represent much progress.

2. Dolphins running back Lamar Miller can run late in games. Miller came in averaging 5.4 yards for his first 10 carries in a game and just 2.5 in his next 10. In addition, in the first halves of Miami’s past three losses, he had a combined total of 151 yards on 28 carries and just nine yards on 12 carries in the second half. On Sunday against Minnesota, however, he ran for 48 yards on his first 10 carries and 44 yards on his next nine.

–QB Ryan Tannehill passed for 396 yards and a career-high four touchdown passes in a 37-35 win over Minnesota. Tannehill was highly accurate, completing 35 of his 47 passes for 74.4 percent. Trailing 35-28 with 4:40 left in the game, Tannehill engineered an 80-yard touchdown drive that was capped by his three-yard pass to Damien Williams. Tannehill helped the Dolphins convert 9 of 13 on third downs.

–RB Lamar Miller had perhaps his best game of the year, compiling a season-high 150 yards from scrimmage and one touchdown. Miller ran 19 times for 92 yards and a 4.8 average. He also caught five passes for 58 yards. It was the second most rushing yards he has had this season and most in terms of receiving yards.

–WR Mike Wallace had five receptions for 58 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Minnesota. For the season, Wallace has 10 touchdown catches, which ties his career personal best, which he set in 2010. In addition, he has 70 catches this season for 862 yards.

–WR Jarvis Landry had eight catches for 31 yards. He now has 71 catches this season, which broke Terry Kirby’s record for most receptions by a Dolphins rookie. Landry had a costly mistake late in the game on a fumbled kickoff return, but the Dolphins rallied to win, minimizing the error. Overall, though, Landry has showed tremendous toughness this season as a receiver and kick returner.

What we learned about the Vikings:

1. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is progressing nicely. Bridgewater completed 19 out of 26 passes for 259 yards, two touchdowns and one interception on Sunday against Miami. Bridgewater is now 5-6 as a starter, but he has passed for more than 250 yards in each of his past three games.

2. The Vikings played conservatively in a key situation and got beat. With eight seconds left in the first half, Minnesota led 14-7 and had the ball inside the Dolphins one-yard line. Minnesota tried a throw into the end zone, but it fell incomplete. The play took just two seconds. Rather than try a similar play on third and goal, the Vikings — worried that a sack or some other bad play would take them out of a sure-fire field goal — decided to kick. They got the field goal and a 17-7 lead, but they left four points on the table in what turned into a 37-35 loss.

–QB Teddy Bridgewater, who is in Miami, had an unhappy homecoming. Playing at Sun Life Stadium for the first time in his career, Bridgewater completed 19 out of 26 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns. Bridgewater is now 5-6 as a starter, but he has passed for more than 250 yards in each of his past three games.

–RB Matt Asiata, who is in his third year in the NFL, has been pressed into much more action this season due to the suspension of Adrian Peterson. Asiata entered Sunday’s game with a career-high 421 yards. He added to his totals with 16 carries for 58 yards and two touchdowns. Asiata, a Mormon of Samoan descent, was undrafted out of college (Utah) and was cut twice by the Vikings before finally sticking. He is not a game-breaker but has turned into a solid pro.

–WR Greg Jennings had three catches for 56 yards and one touchdown. His touchdown grab — a 21-yarder — was outstanding, reaching to grab a high and hard pass. But Jennings is an old pro — he has more than 50 catches in seven of his past eight seasons. Jennings, 31, is past his prime years of 2008-10, when he had three consecutive years of more than 1,100 yards. But he is still competitive.

–TE Kyle Rudolph has had another disappointing season. The second-round pick out of Notre Dame had a breakout year in 2012, catching 53 passes and nine touchdowns. But in the past two years combined, Rudolph has just 54 receptions for five touchdowns. He played just eight games last year due to a broken foot. And he has played just eight games this season, missing Sunday’s game due to an ankle injury.


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