Dolphins know one bad play can start avalanche

Dolphins know one bad play can start avalanche
December 12, 2013, 1:15 pm
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FOXBORO – In their first meeting with the Patriots this season, everything was going along pretty well for the Dolphins.
 
They were up 17-3 heading to halftime, the Patriots were getting booed at home and they forced a three-and-out to start the second half.
 
Then Caleb Sturgis missed a 46-yard field goal that would have extended the lead in the third quarter and the roof fell in.
 
Over the next 10 plays, the Patriots were able to score two touchdowns with a strip sack sandwiched in there and the score was tied at 17.
 
New England scored the final 10 points of the game as well, blocking a field goal and picking off Ryan Tannehill for good measure and the Dolphins left Gillette as the Saints, Browns and Broncos all did – unsure what had hit them.
 
“You’ve got to make the plays that present themselves,” said Dolphins coach Joe Phiblin this week. “We’ve got to make that field goal as we open the second half. We get a three-and-out, we stop them, we drive the ball down. Obviously we would like to get in the endzone and score a touchdown, but the plays that are there we have to make.
 
Miami’s 4-2 since that loss to the Patriots on October 27. In their past four games they’ve won at New York and Pittsburgh, beaten Miami and lost narrowly to the impressive Panthers. At 7-6, their playoff hopes are flickering but alive.
 
Philbin stressed to his team that the last thing they can afford to do Sunday is give the Patriots any help.
 
“We gave them the ball at the 12-yard line (in the first meeting),” he pointed out. “We played them here last year. We dropped a punt (and) gave them the ball at the 9-yard line, I think. They are too good. They are too good. You can’t do that stuff. We’ve got to play sound, we’ve got to play smart and we’ve got to make some plays. You look at the game Sunday (against Pittsburgh). The reason why we won was we made some plays in the fourth quarter. We are going to have to do that again.”
 
With the Patriots Gronkless again, they become an easier team to defend. Dolphins linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, a former Raven, is having none of that.
 
"I refuse to answer any question that says 'vulnerable' in it due to the fact of what happened earlier this season,” said Ellerbe. "Tom Brady is Tom Brady, a future Hall of Famer. Everybody knows the type of player he is, the throws he can make.”
 
Philbin is adamant that the absence of Gronk matters little in the overall picture for Miami.

“I can’t remember what game 87 came back in, but they were still a good offense before, they’re obviously good with him, and I’m sure they’re going to be good again,” he stressed. “They just do a nice job utilizing the pieces that they have so we’re going to have to play our best game of the year and play a complete game against these guys. I think if last week’s game proved anything it’s if you’re going to play the New England Patriots you have to play from the first play to the very last play and you can’t let up for one play against those guys.”
 
As the Dolphins learned in October, the most innocuous play can be the one that starts the avalanche.