NOTEBOOK: Clay Puts Together Career Game; Other Notes

Posted Nov 17, 2013

Versatile tight end showed off his catching and running skills.

Sometime later tonight when the San Diego Chargers are flying back across the country, strong safety Marcus Gilchrist is likely to utter the name Charles Clay and ask for another pillow.

Gilchrist was the player Clay bowled over on his way into the end zone in the third quarter of the Miami Dolphins’ 20-16 win at Sun Life Stadium. He just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time during Clay’s 39-yard touchdown reception that broke a 10-10 tie on what was Clay’s career-high sixth catch of the game.

“That was huge,” said quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who has gotten Clay into the end zone four time this season. “I saw a point, threw it to him in the opening and I never thought that it was going to be a 39-yard touchdown. But he’s a tough runner and a big physical guy that showed his physicalness and toughness getting into the end zone.”

When San Diego’s plane does land, all Gilchrist needs to do is watch the sports highlights of the play that put Miami in the lead for good and he’ll have a better idea of what Tannehill was talking about. Clay caught the ball in the right flat maybe four yards from the line of scrimmage on a 1st-and-5, split two defenders and then left his footprints all over Gilchrist. He shook off the attempted tackle of linebacker Donald Butler and pranced into the end zone.

Head Coach Joe Philbin has been preaching about those types of runs after catch all season and was hoping to get them from all of the skill positions – tight end, running back and wide receiver. Chances are he will be playing the film of Clay’s play more than a few times this week as Miami prepares to host the Carolina Panthers.

“We’ve struggled – let’s put it on the table – to make real big, explosive plays and we need more of them,” Philbin said. “Sometimes you just have to have a player decide that he’s going to break some tackles and kind of make it on his own. … It wasn’t a long pass, but he made it.”

Being as this is the third time in his short career that Clay has caught six passes and he fell just 10 yards shy of his second 100-yard receiving game, he could be on track for more of those types of plays.

Turning point

The Chargers were driving towards a possible go-ahead touchdown or at the least a fourth field goal that would have cut Miami’s lead to one point with under five minutes left in the game. Quarterback Philip Rivers had moved the offense from his own 20 the Miami 29 and faced a 3rd-and-5 when he lined up in the shotgun looking to convert another first down.

Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon got around the right edge and sacked Rivers from behind for a 7-yard loss all the way back to his own 36, pushing San Diego just out of field goal range. Nick Novak had made a 50-yarder earlier but this kick would have come from 54 yards, so the Chargers elected to punt the ball away and when they did get it back just before the two-minute warning they needed to go 83 yards and could not settle for a field goal. Odrick now has 5.5 sacks on the season, one less than team leader Cam Wake’s 6.5 and one more than Jared Odrick’s 4.5.

Statistical milestones

Running back Lamar Miller’s 29-yard reception on a screen pass in the third quarter was the longest of his career. … Veteran Nate Garner made his first career start at center today in place of Mike Pouncey and he now has started 14 games overall. … Rookie Sam Brenner made his NFL debut and had his first career start at left guard. … Rookie tackle Dallas Thomas also made his debut on running back Daniel Thomas’ 1-yard touchdown leap in the second quarter. … Veteran guard Danny Watkins made his Dolphins debut. … Thomas’ rushing touchdown was the seventh of his career and second of this season. … Cornerback Brent Grimes’ interception in the first quarter was his third of the season, his most since he picked off five passes in his Pro Bowl season of 2010.


The Dolphins host the Carolina Panthers at Sun Life Stadium next Sunday at 1 p.m.

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