Dec 22, 2014 4:48 AM
Dolphins are keeping coach after 37-35 win over Vikings
The Associated Press
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) The Miami Dolphins are out of the market for a new coach, even though they're also out of the playoff race for the sixth year in a row.
Miami won a wild game between also-rans Sunday, beating Minnesota 37-35, and owner Stephen Ross then announced coach Joe Philbin will be back next year.
That put an end to speculation that Ross might again pursue San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, who turned down his job offer four years ago.
"We're building something great here," Ross said in the locker room. "I believe in this team. I believe in the coach."
Ross said his decision wasn't based on what happened Sunday, but the win certainly helped the Dolphins' mood after losses the previous two weeks spoiled their playoff hopes.
Here are things to know about a game that was entertaining, if mostly meaningless:
THEIR PLACE IN THE STANDINGS: The Dolphins improved to 8-7 and have a shot at their first winning season since 2008. Philbin is 23-24 with a year left on his contract.
"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," quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. "We believe in coach Philbin and the program he has and everything he has set in place."
Minnesota, which has been out of the playoff race since Thanksgiving, fell to 6-9 under first-year coach Mike Zimmer and 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."
WINNING SAFETY: Terrence Fede, a seventh-round draft pick this year, blocked a punt for a safety with 41 seconds left for the winning score.
After Miami drove 80 yards for a touchdown to tie the game with 1:11 to go, the Vikings failed to pick up a first down. The fourth-down snap from Cullen Loeffler bounced to punter Jeff Locke, and Fede blocked the punt 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."
A dejected Loeffler took the blame for the play.
"Jeff made the best that he could with the ball," Loeffler said. "That's what it cost us the low snap."
BRIDGEWATER HOMECOMING: Vikings rookie Teddy Bridgewater returned to his hometown and played for the first time in the Dolphins' stadium, where he attended games growing up. A large contingent of friends and family were on hand, and Bridgewater is braced for teasing 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."
Bridgewater went 19 for 25 for 259 yards and two scores, and he broke the Vikings rookie record with his 11th start at quarterback.
"He continues to play well," Zimmer said. "I thought he kept his composure."
TERRIFIC TANNEHILL: Tannehill threw a career-high four touchdown passes and went 35 for 47 for 396 yards. He directed an offense that totaled 36 first downs and 493 yards, shook off a costly interception and two sacks, and was knocked down at least eight other times.
GREENWAY'S INJURY: Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway played following the death of his father during the week but was forced to leave the game in the first half with a knee injury.
"Not what I had in mind," he said. "That's what makes matters worse."
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