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NOTEBOOK: Penalty Free Game At Indy A Plus; Other Notes

Posted Sep 16, 2013

Only sixth time in franchise history team did not draw a flag.



Playing on the road in the National Football League is tough enough without giving the home team free plays and bonus yardage due to penalties. The Miami Dolphins made life easier for themselves Sunday by not committing a single one against the Indianapolis Colts.

Only six times before in the history of the franchise has Miami put together a game devoid of yellow flags and it hadn’t happened since December 21, 1998 at home against the Denver Broncos before yesterday. Head Coach Joe Philbin couldn’t be more pleased that his players understood the importance of staying disciplined in such a pivotal game this early in the season.

“We told the team Tuesday when we started that we wanted to play clean and fast and we wanted to play within the rules,” Philbin said. “We had 10 penalties there a year ago, we felt that hurt us and that was a big part of the game. We knew we had to do a good job of communicating, being disciplined and playing within the rules. So I take my hat off to the players.”

The Colts employed an aggressive pass rush that resulted in five sacks of Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill and they hit him an additional four times after he released the ball. He also had decent enough protection throughout the game to complete 23-of-34 passes for 319 yards, one touchdown and a passer rating of 107.4 – and his offensive line and protectors managed not to get caught holding or committing a false start.

Linebacker Philip Wheeler might have been forgiven if he got antsy enough to jump the snap once on defense being that he was playing his former team in the stadium he helped open, but not likely. Still, as active as he and fellow linebacker Dannell Ellerbe were on the blitz packages, they never entered the neutral zone prematurely, so clearly and his teammates are good listeners.

“That’s really big and it shows a lot coming from Coach Philbin and how well he’s instilling discipline in us,” said Wheeler, whose sack of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck on fourth down late in the game helped secure the win. “We hear it all day, everyday and we had to transfer it to field so that’s what happened.”

Last season, the Dolphins committed just 82 penalties, which was the third-fewest total in the NFL that season, for 724 yards, the fourth-fewest total. In fact, over the past six NFL seasons (2007-12), the Dolphins committed just 489 penalties, the fourth-lowest total in the NFL over that time span, behind only Atlanta (460), Indianapolis (476) and New England (483). Their total penalty yardage (4,139) is the third-fewest total behind only Indianapolis (3,739) and Atlanta (3,928).

THE LAST WORD

“Sometimes games are – I won’t ever say they’re easy to call – but you get in a game and you kind of get in a rhythm and the calls are coming and you get a great feel and you can’t wait to get to the next call. This was not one of those games. This was a game where it was hard sledding the whole way.” – Coyle on what it was like trying to coach the defense against the Colts offense
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