The Miami Dolphins have been on both sides of the coin in recent weeks. They were riding high after knocking off the New England Patriots eight days ago to better position themselves for the playoffs, and now they need to rebound from yesterday’s untimely 19-0 loss to the Buffalo Bills that has left them at 8-7.
Fortunately, Miami is still very much alive for the postseason thanks to New England’s win over the Baltimore Ravens and can help its cause this Sunday at home against the New York Jets. A win over their division rival at Sun Life Stadium coupled with either a loss by Baltimore at Cincinnati or a win by San Diego over Kansas City to force a three-way tie would result in the Dolphins grabbing that sixth and final AFC playoff spot.
“I think the important thing for all of us to realize is that we’re playing a very meaningful game on the last regular season game of the season and we’ve got to play our best football, plain and simple,” said defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle, who is in his second year in Miami after spending 2001-11 in Cincinnati with the Bengals. “We know that there’s still opportunity. We’ve got to go out and play our best game of the year and I believe in our guys. I know that they’re not happy about (the Buffalo loss).
“We want to finish up the season the right way. We want to have a winning season and we want to play great in our last game at Sun Life Stadium, so we’ll be ready. We’re busy putting together the best plan we can put together for this particular game and I expect us to go out and play very well.”
That’s precisely what the Dolphins did the first time they faced the Jets at MetLife Stadium back on December 1st in a convincing 23-3 win. Coyle’s defense held New York’s offense to a total of 177 yards and sacked quarterbacks Geno Smith and Matt Simms four times while coming up with two interceptions.
“They’re a good run defense and they’re a very good defense,” Sherman said. “When we left that game we still felt they were a very good defense and looking at them on tape again they are a good defense. So we have to go into this week and fix what was broke yesterday and then come out snorting and ready to go against the Jets. I’m sure we’ll be ready to play and our guys have given us great effort all year long.
Head Coach Joe Philbin plans to go over the Buffalo film with the team tomorrow and not just try to erase it from memory because he sees the value of making corrections. Considering the fact that Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine served in the same capacity with the Jets last season, he and Sherman are expecting a similar look Sunday.
So Philbin is well aware of how much more production he needs to see out of his offense and his defense, which is why the message he is sending to his team has to do with the need to seize this opportunity in front of the home crowd in a division game. He continues to have faith that his players will respond and be able to put the loss at Buffalo behind them.
“We’ve been up and down in terms of wins and losses because we’re 8-7,” Philbin said. “But I think in terms of the players coming into the building and going into work and absorbing the new game plan, learning from the mistakes of the last week, applying that and going to work on the next opponent, I’ve been very, very pleased with the way the guys do that every single week.”
He’ll need them to put that characteristic on display one more time in order to keep the playoffs in view.