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      by Published on 12-16-2013 01:24 AM     Number of Views: 4097 



      Positives


      * I have to start with the coaching staff. I have hammered this staff lately, starting with the head coach. Joe Philbin helped lead his team to a victory over the New England Patriots. Philbin kept steady after an uneven start to the game. His clock management at the end of the 1st half was masterful. With the offense being shutout, he effectively used timeouts to give some time to his offense to put up a score. The offense responded with a great 2 minute drive and a TD. Philbin also deserves credit for how the team looked coming out of half time. The team's play was a bugaboo in the last game versus the Patriots. This time, the Fins were more competitive and outlasted the Patriots. Finally, the 4th and 5 call was awesome. He could not give the ball back to Tom Brady to ice the game, especially with the condition of his CB's. Philbin rolled the dice and came up huge. Credit to Joe Philbin.
      * Mike Sherman had his best game of the season. He had a good mix of run and pass. He consistently found the match up in the passing game to exploit. What was best about Sherman t was his play calling in the Red Zone. The misdirection looks on the TD pass to Daniel Thomas was outstanding. Finally, the design on the game winning TD was tremendous. He was able to get Marcus Thigpen matched on Donte' Hightower, who traditionally struggles in coverage.
      * Kevin Coyle. His group bent and bent, but never broke. The Patriots had two, 15 play drives that netted six points. He was aggressive all the way through in the game. He was able to manufacture a defense without his top corners. At end of the game, I was frustrated with the timeout calls on final Patriots drive for I thought it allowed the Patriots to organize themselves. However, the more I thought about it, with so many new faces in the secondary, it was a very wise move by Philbin and Coyle. The stoppages allowed everyone to get on the same page.
      * Even turnover differential.
      * Ryan Tannehill was on fire today. He led his team. He was 25-37, 3 TD's and no interceptions. His QB rating was 120.6. I love the fact that he was off a bit early, but settled in. He was in command of the 2 minute drill at the end of the half. His connection with Mike Wallace for a TD was huge in terms of momentum. On the game winning drive, he made some great throws and got his team to pay dirt.
      * Mike Wallace had 105 yards on 6 receptions and a TD. He was available for his QB and made some tough catches. His catch and run at the end of the half was big obviously in terms of the scoreboard, but also for momentum.
      * Brian Hartline went for a 70 yards and caught 5 balls. He was available for RT at some important spots throughout the game.
      * Some of the biggest, most difficult catches were made by Rishard Matthews. Matthews great catch down the sideline on the offense's final drive of the game was awesome. He caught the ball at its highest point and got his feet in bounds.
      * I thought it was impressive how the Fins killed the Patriots with throws between the numbers.
      * While he was not heard from much, Charles Clay individual effort on the 4th and 5 call on the last drive was simply incredible. The play look dead, yet Clay would not be denied. He picked up the five yards and the drive continued.
      * Quietly, Lamar Miller had a nice day. He had 61 yards for a 4.1 per carry. He had a lot of success getting outside on the Patriots defense.
      * Marcus Thigpen and Daniel Thomas proved to be adept receivers on their respective TD's. Miami showed some versatility with their offensive package by utilizing their RB's.
      * Mike Pouncey was the leader of this line. He got the line into the correct protections and helped the running game all day. Very smart football player.
      * The Dolphins 2 Minute/No huddle offense was great today. At the end of the half and the game winning drive, Miami was in its element without a huddle, moving at a fast pace.
      * The Red Zone defense by Kevin Coyle's charges might be the story of the game. They kept the Pats to 1-4 in the red area. As stated above, they bent and bent, but never broke.
      * Run defense. They gave up less than 100 yards (96) after the Pats steamrolled them up in Foxboro.
      * Cam Wake put constant pressure on Tom Brady. Wake had a sack and hit Brady on numerous occasions as well.
      * Derrick Shelby in the 4th quarter got pressure and forced Brady into an incompletion on a 3rd and 2.
      * Brandon Fields punt that landed inside the 2.
      * While the pass rush was spotty through three quarters, it picked up late in the 4th.
      * Gutsy effort by the DB's. With Dimitri Patterson IR'ed, Brent Grimes cramping and Nolan Carroll leaving the game, it was all hands on deck. While it was not pretty, they found a way.
      * Props to Michael Thomas. Brand new to the team, Thomas had a big PD in the end zone as the Patriots tried to score the game winner. Thomas came down with the game winning interception to clinch the win.
      * The Dolphins finished halves today. It is something that they were good at in September during their winning streak. They were outstanding at finishing halves today...a total of two TD's and repelling Tom Brady from the end zone.
      * Props to the crowd. Great noise late. It was awesome to hear the noise and see the fans having fun.

      Negatives

      * 3rd down offense. The O was only 4-11 on the money down.
      * The RB's struggled in the first half with blitz pick ups. They missed assignments and other times got rocked back into Tannehill's lap.
      * RT under threw Wallace in the 4th quarter. Wallace got separation, but again, RT could not lead him enough.
      * Overall, the offense yielded four sacks. While the pass pro came through when it mattered, some of the sacks got the offense off of schedule.
      * 3rd down defense. The D yielded 9 for 17. The reason that some of these 3rd downs were converted were because of the lack of success by the defense on first down. Too many 3rd and 5 or less.
      * Will Davis is trying, but he is simply not ready to compete. He was easily picked on by Brady. Davis was over his head.
      * On the Pats go ahead TD in the 4th, Jimmy Wilson made no attempt to tackle the receiver. He appeared to poke at the ball and ran right by him. Terrible effort.
      * After the botched field goal and sudden change, the defense was unable to stop the Pats from storming down the field and scoring a TD.
      * Whether it was a botched fake field goal attempt or simply poor snap and hold execution, the John Denney snap that hit Fields when he was not looking was ugly. It took points off of the board and is simply a play that cannot happen at this point in the year....especially, from two quality veterans.
      * Jason Trunsnik's penalty that killed a solid return by Thigpen and stunted a drive.
      * In large part, through solid Patriot execution, the Fins lost the field position battle in the first half.

      Overall Assessment

      * This was Joe Philbin's best win of his career. He was a factor in the team winning throughout the game. Excellent job. He made some gutsy calls. Overall, he and his staff matched the best coach in the NFL and got a win.
      * Joe going for it on 4th and 5 was the equivalent of him faking the punt versus the St. Louis Rams late in the game last year. Both were gutsy calls that aided in his team winning.
      * Miami beat a good team today. The Patriots have the best QB in the league. They have the best HC in the league. The players are well coached. Finally, they know how to make money plays. Miami stepped up and beat a very good team. It is something to proud of.
      * I was not surprised that the Dolphins 3rd receiver had success. In the first game with the Pats, Brandon Gibson used up their defense until getting hurt in the 1st half. I wonder how the first game would have been different if Gibson did not get hurt. With that said, Matthews picked up where Gibson left off by making money catches.
      * It was awesome to see the emotion of Thomas after getting the interception. One can only think of the hard work the kid has put in. Also, he made a decision to leave the 49ers and try his lot with a new team. He moves across the country and starts anew. To come into the game when he did and make the winning plays down the stretch (against none other than Tom Brady) is simply incredible. I feel great for the kid.
      * I do not remember a game in which CB's started dropping like happened to the Fins today. Losing their top two CB's is bad enough and couple that against Brady...wow. It was uneasy to say the least. Just a crazy situation.
      * Tom Brady is a great QB. I cannot stand his team, but I respect him. I do love beating his team whenever that can happen.
      * Tom Brady should show more respect after a loss in his presser. Give some credit to the opponent and save the "S" bomb for private.
      * Steven Gostkowski hurt his team. He missed a field goal left and his kickoff went out of bounds after the Pats went ahead in the 4th. He has had a great year, but today he hurt his team.
      * The crowd was awesome. South Florida knows their football...they just need to go to the games. With that said, the fans will show when the team wins. The fans will be loud when the team gives them something to cheer about. It is a two way street. The noise from the home fans was tremendous.
      * I do not think it was a coincidence that Mike Pouncey had to testify in front of a grand jury this week. No, it is not that the prosector was attempting to help the Patriots. This week was used, however, to get more press on the Aaron Hernandez case. So much for secret testimony. From serving Pouncey at Gillette Stadium in October to using this week for him to testify, the prosecutor has been using garbage tactics in this case. He is desperate and I question if he will get his murder conviction.
      * Let's go Steelers and Lions. I think Baltimore beats the Pats next week btw. Brutal spot for the Pats.
      * As this was Philbin's best win as a coach, he has a monumental task this week. After an emotional, huge win, the team goes to Buffalo. The weather will be bad and the Bills are a good team regardless of the record. They have some match ups that they can have success with against Miami. Doug Marrone is serious about setting a tone for next year. His team will play loose and with energy. Miami cannot afford a let down and need to play a good game to win this game. It is on Joe Philbin to put a successful plan together and have his team emotionally ready against the Bills.
      by Published on 12-15-2013 05:12 PM
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      DOLPHINS KNOCK OFF PATRIOTS TO IMPROVE TO 8-6



      The losing streak to New England is over. A three game winning streak and a chance at the postseason. A statement win in a division that has been dominated by New England for the past decade. All true story lines after the Miami Dolphins defeated the Patriots 24-20 on a hot Sunday in December.

      Playing perhaps the franchise's biggest game since the 2008 season, the Dolphins showed the Patriots and the entire NFL that they are real and a threat to be taken serious. With today's win the team improved to 8-6 and currently hold a half game lead for the final wildcard over the Baltimore Ravens (Baltimore plays the Detroit Lions tomorrow night on Monday Night Football).

      The Dolphins erased a 10-0 deficit the Patriots built in the first half and outscored New England 24-10 the rest of the way. Ryan Tannehill continues to grow and show that he is a legitimate franchise quarterback as he completed 25 of 37 passes for 312 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. Tannehill's 39 yard strike to Mike Wallace in the final minute of the first half was the momentum changer the Dolphins needed for the rest of the game. Tannehill in the fourth quarter connected on a two yard touchdown pass to Daniel Thomas and a 14 yard touchdown to Marcus Thigpen. The pass to Thigpen proved to be the game winning score.

      The Dolphins defense bended in the final minute of the game as Tom Brady led the Patriots 66 yards to the Dolphins 14. However, newly acquired cornerback Michael Thomas made the play of the game picking off Brady in the endzone to seal the victory.

      The 8-6 Dolphins will surely be watching the Ravens big game tomorrow night against the Lions as they continue to make a bid for the postseason for the first time since 2008. The Dolphins travel to Buffalo next week to take on the Bills and will wrap up regular season play the following week at home against the New York Jets.

      TELL US WHAT YOU THINK IN THE FINHEAVEN FORUMS!
      by Published on 12-08-2013 11:21 PM     Number of Views: 2066 

      Positives

      * First of all, what a quality win that was. On the road, in the cold, in the snow, in a tough road environment versus playoff competition. It was a gutsy, gutsy win.
      * Props to Daniel Thomas. Many thought DT was done for the year. First, he showed toughness by simply returning to the lineup, but it was his contributions that were huge today. On a day that tough, straight ahead running was needed, Thomas answered the call. He had 105 yards on 16 carries and TD. The biggest run of the day was a 55 yarder that set up the eventual game winning TD in the 4th quarter.
      * The running game churned out a total of 181 yards. Very impressive.
      * Charles Clay. Stud performance. 98 yards on 7 receptions and 2 TD's. His game winner, he busted through tackles to hit pay dirt. There were some other receptions in which he juked defenders to gain extra yards. Clay was a weapon today.
      * Ryan Tannehill has excellent today. He was 20-33 for 200 yards, 3 TD's and 1 interception. He was also effective with his legs. A 48 yard read option helped get the offense going early. 56 rushing yards total Tannehill.
      * The pass protection was great. Considering the opponent and its scheme, the line gave up only two sacks.
      * Mike Pouncey was athletic and got out in front on multiple runs.
      * Brian Hartline's TD catch. A vintage Hartline toe tap.
      * Rush defense. The defense held Pittsburgh and the talented La'Veon Bell to 84 yards.
      * Cameron Wake with a strip, sack. It set up the team's first TD.
      * Olivier Vernon had big tackle on Ben Roethlisberger on 4th down. It was a big tackle. O.V. also garnered another sack to his team leading total.
      * Nolan Carroll was tough in coverage. He had some big passes defensed. None other were bigger than a late PD on a 3rd down in the 4th. The Fins eventually got the ball after a Steelers punt and RT led the offense to a go ahead score.
      * Brent Grimes was up to his usual self today. He had nice coverage during the game.
      * Miami coverage's units were dynamite today. The weather conditions were brutal to cover kicks and yet they were up to the task. Don Jones had a great open field tackle. Marlon Moore had a big stick. Both kicks and punts were covered very well.
      * Jimmy Wilson blocked a punt (technically the punt went one yard so it is a deflection). It was a good aggressive play.
      * Mike Sherman's play calling was good today. He took use of the read option (perhaps could have done more). I like how they took multiple shots deep. He stayed with the run as well. Good day for Sherm.
      * Kevin Coyle used Dion Jordan in some different looks. One that caught my eye is on a passing down, Jordan was inside at DT. Upon the snap, he busted out into coverage.
      * Good challenge by Joe Philbin on the Hartline TD catch.
      * Joe Philbin had his team ready to go and mentally prepared for the cold. It is always tough to play two road games in a row. However, Philbin ultimately had his team up to the task.
      * The team did not quit after the Troy Polamalu's pick six.
      * The offense scored a TD off of a TO created by the defense.
      * 34 points in a win. Miami was the last team in the league to accomplish the 30 point barrier.
      * The team snapped its skid of not scoring a TD in the 4th quarter.

      Negatives

      * The game management by Joe Philbin at the end of the 1st half was awful. First, he let time tick down and did not stop the clock as the Steelers went to punt. Jimmy Wilson then went on to block the punt. For some reason, on 4th and 2, Philbin elected a 53 yard field goal...at a stadium in which nobody kicks long FG's successfully...let alone during a snow event. The kick was run back as Dolphins fans heart's jumped a beat thinking of Alabama/Auburn. The right call, with multiple timeouts, would have been to go for it and see if a closer FG could have been accomplished.
      * The defense let up on the last play. Some players were not set, some looked like they thought the Steelers could not possibly score and looked for someone else to make the play. Fortunately, Brown stepped out of bounds. Both Reshard Jones and Chris Clemons took horrible angles to the ball carrier. This team must literally finish each game.
      * 3rd down offense. The offense was only 5 of 13.
      * 3rd down defense. The Steelers hit on 50% of 3rd downs (8-16). There were also way too many 3rd and long's yielded.
      * 1 to 1 Turnover differential. For the Dolphins to win down the stretch, they have to get this stat on the "plus" side. At the very least today, the Dolphins were even and that was enough to win today.
      * Ryan Tannehill's pick six.
      * The defense gave up a TD after Miami went up ten points. In under three minutes, the Fins were up ten and were down four points.
      * The defense gave up a TD after Hartline's TD.
      * The defense had no answer for Jerricho Cotchery and Antonio Brown.
      * Holding penalties on Mike Pouncey and Lamar Miller on the same drive.
      * Part of the issues on defense is Kevin Coyle's schemes get figured out and there is no "second" adjustment from him.
      * While I liked the read option looks, RT had a few chances to keep the ball for yards. Whether he read it wrong or was told to hand the ball off, more yards could have been earned with the QB keeping the ball. QB's can get injured in this spot, so I totally understand not wanting to expose the QB.

      Overall Assessment

      * Huge win. On the road, in the cold, in the snow, at a tough road venue, against an experienced team still in that is still in the mix...just a big, big win.
      * This win effectively ends the season for the Steelers. The Fins and Ravens are essentially pitted against each other going down the stretch.
      * Ben Roethlisberger is an excellent QB. He is talented and tough.
      * Scoring 34 points on a Dick LeBeau defense is an accomplishment. Props to the players and offensive coaching staff. Regardless of the aging players on the Pittsburgh defense, it still is coached well and has smarts and pride. Nice accomplishment by the offense.
      * Miami overcame adversity today...awesome to see. However, there are other times they cannot handle success. Being up and losing leads is too common this season. It is up to the coaching staff to get this team to improve in understanding the momentum swings of a game.
      * I still think that Mike Tomlin should have been suspended today. The act he pulled on Thanksgiving is disgusting and has no part in the game.
      * The Steelers are dirty. Cameron Heyward threw two Dolphins to the ground. Ryan Clark was head hunting all game. After Big Ben was stopped short of the 1st down, a linemen leveled Koa Misi well after the play.
      * I never want to hear Steelers fans complain about not getting calls. They get calls all the time.
      * What is the exact concussion protocol? How does Ike Taylor get knocked cold and re-enter the game a few plays later? I am confused.
      * How many of us thought of Nick Saban at the end of the 1st half?
      * With the win the Jason Laconfora's and Louis Riddick's of the world can save the "Dolphins made a mistake by signing Mike Wallace" stories or the writing pieces that talk about how the Steelers "don't make personnel mistakes". Maybe they did or maybe they didn't, but at the end of the day they are 5-8 and Mike Wallace's team is 7-6.
      * Here is hoping that Sun Life is packed to the last row and is a loud, inhospitable building for the Patriots.
      * While we will all talk playoff scenarios and that is proper, in my opinion the season was first about making progress. I questioned a few weeks ago if progress had been this year. However, I can say over the last two weeks, progress has been made. That is outstanding to see. There are still three crucial weeks to go to make the final assessment of how much this team has improved this year.