Written by Matthew Cannata at 5:00 PM EST | Twitter: @PhinManiacs
The final two drives of the Miami Dolphins vs. Detroit Lions game were tough to watch as a Dolphins fan. As we saw the offense go three and out before the two minute warning, there was a sense of “here we go again” as the Detroit Lions offense took the field and marched down with little effort to score the game winning touchdown. Joe Philbin took us inside the game-plan for those last two drives.
“We had a good run on first down. I think we gained four or five maybe. I think it was like 2nd-and-5, we thought we had a pretty good look on second down on a run. Obviously, I don’t think we gained anything there and then on third down they stopped us and forced us to punt. I thought we were in a manageable third down, but you have to give them credit. They made the play. They executed well. Obviously, we weren’t able to get to him and disrupt him enough. One time I think we lose containment, I think on the touchdown pass if I’m not mistaken he got outside the pocket a little bit. Again you have to credit Detroit. They made the plays and we didn’t."
Philbin was criticized by some for taking two timeouts on the Lions’ final possession but explained that he wanted to make sure there was time on the clock for the offense in case the Lions had scored.
“Once they got close to the 30, inside what we consider field goal range, we were hoping to stop them and make them kick a field, which would have been a tie game, and saved us some time to potentially drive and win the game. That was the entire thought process.”
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said he was proud of the way his guys stepped up and made big plays, such as Golden Tate and of course, Theo Riddick. He also made sure to point out the pass rush of the Dolphins.
“That’s a great pass rush we played. We had a couple guys go down, some guys step up, some rookies -and played pretty well. I’m just proud of the team. Our defense obviously did a heck of a job. Great play by Dig (James Ihedigbo) on the third down to knock that ball out to give us a chance to go win the game and not have to go tie. Obviously, we love to be running four-minute offense and taking knees at the end of games, but we’ll take them how we can get them.”
They certainly took full advantage of that and on a play with a little over 30 seconds remaining, Stafford dropped back, ran to his left and fired a perfect pass into the arms of Theo Riddick in the end zone.
“First of all I got an eight up look I thought they were going to bring everybody and just kind of banked on them not,” Stafford said. “They didn’t, dropped eight and our guys kept fighting. Calvin (Johnson) had a shallow route coming to me, was getting jammed up, they had a couple guys on him trying to take him away, obviously. Theo (Riddick) had just kind of like a quick flat route play and we were trying to get it to him quick, but they did a good job of playing over the top of it. Our guys ran the defensive ends by, I had a chance to step up and Theo did a great job of willing up the sideline, staying in bounds, making himself available and that’s just instinct there. You draw them up and sometimes the way football goes you’ve got to go out there and make a play and we were able to do that.”
Prior to that, Golden Tate caught a pass for a controversial first down. At first glance and even on replay, it appeared he was short but the referees kept the first down call on the field.
“9 (Matthew Stafford) trusts in getting me the ball. They had a zone out there, obviously CJ (Calvin Johnson) is going to draw a lot of attention, so I just found a soft spot and I was trying to score. I was trying to end it right then and there. I ended up getting the first down, very close call but I think it was the correct call and it burned some more time off the clock and we were able to get six instead of three.”
Cameron Wake was upset, as you would expect and said the Dolphins need to find a way to finish off these types of games.
“I don’t deny that we have that [killer instinct]. I feel like this is the NFL, there’s good football teams on each side of the ball and like I said, they came out and made one more play. But the difference in this week and last week, our mentality is not going to change. Last week everybody is high on a big high, this week’s on a low, but reality is we still have the same mentality to go out there and give it our all. We came up short this week, but we have a game in five days, so this one we’ll have to brush off really quick, get back to work tomorrow morning and move on.”
The pass rush was mostly ineffective on the last drive of the game, which allowed Matthew Stafford to sit back in the pocket and go through his progressions. Wake said that’s all part of the game and sometimes, you’re going to get stone-walled.
“Well, the kind of pass rush I want is not being blocked and just hit the quarterback, but that doesn’t happen very often. This league again, offenses do their best to make plays and if that means paying more attention to certain guys then that’s what is going to happen. When you sign up for this position or this situation, that comes with a territory. You just have to go out there and do whatever you can, keep knocking at the ball and wait until it falls.”
However, with all that said, Wake said it wasn’t just the last drive that made them lose the game. Instead, it was plenty of other things throughout the course of the game that led to the last drive determining the outcome of the game.
“I would go further than saying the drive, it was probably the entire game. Obviously, coming into the game we knew it was going to be a game that two teams are very willful. Both teams wanted to win and we definitely traded blows back and forth. But I feel like with a lead to close the game out, each facet of the game, offense had an opportunity, special teams had an opportunity, defense had an opportunity to kind of put the game away and I’d say they made one more play then we did.”
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