Bills Victory Featured Contributions From New Faces

Posted Dec 24, 2012

Plenty of the credit for the victory goes to players who weren't with the team just weeks ago.

The Miami Dolphins faced a new challenge yesterday against the Buffalo Bills with significant lineup changes in all three phases and passed the test with flying colors.

Kicker Nate Kaeding was still shaking off jet lag having flown across the country from San Diego on a red-eye Thursday night that got him into South Florida early Friday morning. Cornerback Dimitri Patterson had only five days to learn the defense after being claimed last Tuesday off waivers from the Cleveland Browns and wide receiver Armon Binns has only been with the team for two weeks after being claimed off waivers from the Cincinnati Bengals.

All Kaeding did was go 3-for-3 on extra points, handle the kickoff duties and boomed two out of the back of the end zone for touchbacks, make a 45-yard field goal in windy conditions late in the game to put Miami up by 21 points and pull off a pooch punt – the first punt of his career. Patterson started for the injured Nolan Carroll and played every snap, recording four solo tackles and executing his coverage assignments well. Binns was targeted four times and caught three passes for 27 yards while also blocking well.

“Part of the thing you have to get through, and we made the point to the team on Saturday night, is that we know there’s going to be transition in the NFL and football’s still football really, regardless of where you were before,” Dolphins Head Coach Joe Philbin said in his day-after press conference. “Sometimes, if you have a man coverage if you’re a DB, man coverage is man coverage. We may call it purple and they may call it cloud or silver, but it’s still football.

“But those guys, Dimitri did a really nice job, Nate Kaeding obviously contributed well. I think it speaks to A, to the players and B, you have to credit to our staff for getting those guys ready. Lou (Anarumo) took extra time. Blue Adams, Al Harris, all those guys helped out. Darren (Rizzi) and Dave (Fipp) with Nate getting him up to speed. We thought that was a great punt he executed on that field goal. It’s nice to see those guys contribute.”

Kaeding is the NFL’s most accurate kicker, having made 87 percent of his field goals coming into the Buffalo game. But a season-ending knee injury on the opening kickoff of the NFL season for the San Diego Chargers, followed by a groin injury this year that landed him on IR after the third game, put his career in question. He had received a handful of calls during his time out but nothing worked out until the Dolphins called in a panic after losing Dan Carpenter to a groin injury.

Things didn’t start out smoothly at Sun Life Stadium for the nine-year veteran as his first field goal attempt from 45 yards in the first quarter was blocked. His pooch punt bounced into the end zone for a touchback, but he rebounded with those two strong kickoffs and the clutch field goal near the end of the game.

“That was my first punt of my NFL career so this is a weekend of firsts for me, there’s no doubt about that,” Kaeding said. “I was just licking my fingers and thinking, ‘All right, don’t drop (the snap. Catch it and just punt it.’ I thought I hit it okay. Usually they kind of check up a little bit but it bounced forward and didn’t stay out of the end zone. As a kicker in this league you’re going to run into a variety of different situations and you come out the very first kick and it gets blocked you’ve got to be able to wash that away and go execute the rest of the plays. It was good to come out and make the rest of the placements.”

For Patterson, his past experience as a starter in the league paid dividends as well as the coaching he got from defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle and defensive backs coaches Blue Adams and Lou Anarumo. Coyle had seen it happen once before where a defensive back joined one of his teams on a short week and started the next game but he was still impressed with how Patterson performed.

“Dimitri came in and we were really impressed with his ability to pick up the scheme, number one. We certainly were happy to have him join us here last week,” Coyle said. “On tape we liked him a lot. We had looked at him prior to the season actually, back in the spring time, and he was a guy that we had on our radar as a guy that we liked, so when he became available we felt good about getting him in here. It was just a matter of could he get up to speed fast enough. … Al Harris also worked with him last week and got him ready in three days and he played a very, very solid game for us.”

Patterson wasn’t too surprised that he was able to handle the challenge.

“It was a short week, it was a whirlwind but I was able to settle in,” he said. “When you face situations like this, which is rare, the most important thing is not getting overwhelmed and just taking one thing at a time. That’s really what I focused on. There were a lot of man-hours put in leading up to this game, staying out there with my secondary coaches, especially Lou, and I had never done this before. It’s exciting and challenging at the same time and I’m grateful to be here.”

Binns played the week before against Jacksonville but did not catch a pass because he was still learning the routes and some of the terminology of offensive coordinator Mike Sherman’s scheme. He improved considerably last week in practice and was worked into the game plan a little more.

At 6-foot-3 and 209 pounds he has the size to take advantage of smaller cornerbacks and safeties in certain situations, especially on third downs. Binns delivered against the Bills, with an 11-yard catch to convert one first down and critical 6-yard grab on a third-and-5 to keep the third touchdown drive alive.

“Yeah, I like what he’s done,” Philbin said. “He’s picked up the offense well and he’s a good target in the middle of the field. He’s got nice size and length and he caught the ball well when it came his way. I was pleased with what he did.”

As for Binns, he echoed what Patterson had to say after the game in regards to getting these chances late in the season.

“It’s a blessing,” he said. “Just to be here playing football with this team at this time. I felt real comfortable with the plan. The coaches did a great job getting me prepared and I was excited to go today.”

All three of these players will get to experience the Dolphins-Patriots rivalry for the first time this Sunday on the road in Foxboro, Mass., as Miami closes out the season in a 4:25 p.m. kickoff.
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