Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross stood on the sideline at the end of Sunday's wild victory sharing a laugh with those around him, his mind made up regarding the direction of the franchise.
He's keeping his coach. The Dolphins will sit out the playoffs for the sixth year in a row despite Sunday's 37-35 victory over Minnesota, but afterward Ross announced Joe Philbin will return for a fourth season as head coach for the 2015 season. Ross said his decision wasn't based on what happened Sunday, but the win certainly helped the Dolphins' mood after dismal back-to-back losses spoiled their playoff hopes.
"We're building something great here," Ross said in the locker room. "He's the right guy. ... I believe in this team. I believe in the coach."
Rookie Terrence Fede blocked a punt for a safety with 41 seconds left, and Ryan Tannehill threw four touchdown passes, the most by a Dolphins quarterback since Dan Marino in 1998. Miami outscored the Vikings 23-18 in a bizarre fourth quarter.
Both teams went into the game playing for pride rather than a postseason berth. The Dolphins improved to 8-7 and have a shot at their first winning season since 2008. Philbin has a year left on his contract and a career record of 23-24.
"I want to compete for championships while I'm the head coach of the Miami Dolphins," Philbin said. "It's disappointing we're not in it."
Players said they were pleased to learn Philbin will be back in 2015.
"That's exciting news for me, and I think everyone on the team," Tannehill said. "We believe in coach Philbin and the program he has and everything he has set in place."
The Vikings, who have been out of the playoff race since Thanksgiving, fell to 6-9 under first-year coach Mike Zimmer. They blew a 14-point lead to lose for the second week in a row.
"We made too many mistakes and penalties in crucial situations," Zimmer said. "All of the things I've been trying to preach for 11 months, we didn't do today."
The Dolphins overcame a 14-0 deficit, and trailed again after giving up 15 points in an 11-second span in the fourth quarter. Tannehill then drove Miami 80 yards and hit Damien Williams for a 3-yard score with 1:11 left to make it 35-35. Minnesota failed to pick up a first down, and after the fourth-down snap bounced to punter Jeff Locke, Fede blocked the kick out of the end zone for the game-winner.
"I didn't know where the ball went," Fede said. "I was looking for it in the sky. Then I saw it land in the stands, and I knew it was two points."
Tannehill went 35 for 47 for 396 yards, and directed an offense that totaled 36 first downs and 493 yards. He shook off a costly interception and two sacks and was knocked down at least eight other times. Mike Wallace caught touchdown passes of 16 and 7 yards and has 10 scores this year.
Vikings rookie Teddy Bridgewater, playing in his hometown, was efficient but not as prolific as Tannehill. He went 19 for 25 for 259 yards and two scores, and said he's braced for teasing from friends and family about the outcome.
"I'm pretty sure I won't hear the end of it in the offseason," he said. "We just made too many mistakes."
The Vikings trailed 28-20 but drove 59 yards for a touchdown and made the 2-point conversion with 4:46 to go. On the ensuing kickoff they recovered Jarvis Landry's fumble at the 5, and Matt Asiata ran for the go-ahead touchdown. Miami regrouped, and its tying drive was aided by a pass interference penalty on Xavier Rhodes on third-and-14. Rookie Williams scored his first career touchdown on the next play.
Safety Harrison Smith set up a TD when he blitzed and intercepted Tannehill's pass at point-blank range deep in Miami territory. Three plays later, Bridgewater led Greg Jennings perfectly for a 21-yard score and a 14-0 lead. But the Vikings, who squandered a two-touchdown cushion in a loss at Detroit last week, couldn't hold their leads against Miami, either. Lamar Miller's 1-yard plunge on third down at the start of the fourth quarter put the Dolphins ahead for the first time.
"We weathered the storm," Miami cornerback Cortland Finnegan said. "The football gods were smiling down on us. You've just got to keep playing through the ups and downs."
Vikings LB Chad Greenway hurt his knee in the first half. He was playing following the death of his father during the week. Dolphins DE Derrick Shelby had an interception but hurt his ankle in the third quarter. Miami's Jarvis Landry broke Terry Kirby's team record for receptions by a rookie with 79. The Vikings haven't won in Miami since 1976.
This story was written by The Associated Press
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