NFL Wire News

Dolphins face do-or-die game against Patriots


DAVIE, Fla. — This is it for the Miami Dolphins.

The Dolphins (7-6) visit New England (10-3) in what amounts to a do-or-die game.

Miami most likely needs to win its remaining three games (New England, Minnesota and the New York Jets) to earn one of the six AFC playoff berths. Anything less than three consecutive victories and the Dolphins will probably have their sixth consecutive non-playoff season.

But the Dolphins have something on their side – they’ve defeated the Patriots the last two times they’ve played having won 24-20 last December and 33-10 in September.

Wide receiver Mike Wallace said the Dolphins don’t get especially fired up for New England, but they are well aware of their opponent that week.

“When you hear so much about beating the Patriots, beating the Patriots, beating the Patriots, I think you get tired of hearing it during the week that you have no choice but to go out and beat the Patriots,” he said.

“I don’t think we get geared up more for those guys, I don’t know what it is. We know the challenge that they’re going to present every single time, every single time. There is not one time when you play those guys that you think you can barely get a win and sneak out of there. You know what you have to do when you play those guys.”

Coach Joe Philbin said the Dolphins “will find out a lot this week” about their team.

Miami has slumped recently in major categories such as run defense (it has allowed 661 yards rushing in the last three games) and scoring (it has two touchdowns in the last two games).

The Dolphins are still running the ball fairly effectively but their inability to throw deep was highlighted from two fronts last week – they can’t protect quarterback Ryan Tannehill well enough for a deep throw, and Tannehill can’t throw the pass accurately.

These things might or might not be a factor when the teams line up on Sunday. But both teams are well aware of them.

Here’s something else that might not be a factor but will bring lots of awareness: Philbin has a 22-23 record in three seasons. A loss on Sunday means his career record won’t be better than .500 at the end of the season.

And at that point the offseason might turn into a duck-and-cover drill for Philbin and his coaches.

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