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Sunday, September 23, 2012
Joe Philbin puts Dolphins on ice

By James Walker

Dan Carpenter
Dan Carpenter missed two field goal attempts, including one that could have won the game for the Dolphins in overtime.

MIAMI -- Dolphins rookie head coach Joe Philbin walked into the postgame news conference appearing to have the weight of the world on his shoulders. Philbin knew he made an ill-advised decision that cost the Dolphins in a 23-20 overtime loss to the rival New York Jets.

Philbin attempted to ice Jets kicker Nick Folk in overtime and called a timeout right before the snap. The Dolphins were able to get penetration and block the kick.

Thousands in the crowd and the Dolphins players went wild until they until they realized Philbin called a timeout. Folk nailed his second chance at a 33-yard field goal in a physical game that was virtually gift-wrapped in the end.

"I thought it was the right call," Philbin said of the ill-advised timeout. "I was planning on it all along, to call the timeout right before he kicked the ball."

Dolphins defensive end Jared Odrick was one of several players on the field who thought the blocked kick gave Miami more life. Instead, Odrick was part of a deflated and sullen locker room after the Dolphins fell to 1-2.

"You knew in the back of your head that something like that might happen, but you gotta play the down as hard as you can," Odrick said of the timeout. "Randy [Starks] definitely did that and got in and blocked the kick. It's upsetting, but it’s part of the game in terms of trying to ice the kicker. ... It's tough, but that's the way the cookie crumbles."

It is time to do away with icing the kicker in the NFL, especially right before the snap.

That fad was in a few years ago. But it quickly faded when things like blocked and missed kicks happened. Apparently, Philbin never got the memo and the Dolphins were the latest team to suffer a heartbreaking loss due to a coach outsmarting himself.

Philbin even said that this type of result won't deter him from doing the same thing in future games.

"There may be a different history of a particular kicker that may have us change our mind," Philbin said. "But I would say our position right now is typically we’re going to ice the kicker."

The Jets did not try to ice Miami’s kicker. They would have been upset if they did, because Dan Carpenter of the Dolphins missed two crucial kicks that he would love to have back.

The usually-reliable Carpenter flubbed a 48-yard field goal attempt wide left in overtime that could have sealed the win for Miami. The distance was not automatic. But it came after Carpenter shanked another 47-yard field goal attempt wide left.

“They were makeable. I mean, I let the team down,” Carpenter said. “First of all, there shouldn’t have been an overtime. We should never have been there. The team was busting their [expletive], and I just didn’t come through.”

Imagine if Jets head coach Rex Ryan called timeouts on Carpenter’s two misses, especially the one in overtime. Carpenter most likely nails the field goal on the second try, Miami wins, and Ryan is the goat for the following week.

But Ryan had a huge smile on his face after Philbin called a timeout and Folk’s kick was blocked. Ryan’s grin told the story: He knew Philbin made a rookie coaching mistake.

Robert Malone
Nick Folk (2) celebrates after nailing his second chance at the game-winning field goal.
Ryan has been around the block a few times as a head coach. The Jets are now 2-1 and tied for first place in the AFC East. The Dolphins are 1-2 and have two tough road games upcoming against the Arizona Cardinals (3-0) and Cincinnati Bengals (2-1).

"We’ll certainly take the win," Ryan said. "We’re not going to give it back."

These are the kinds of growing pains the Dolphins must live with by going with a rookie head coach. Philbin will have to learn from this, get better and not make the same mistakes.

There were other coaching gaffes by Philbin such as not taking a knee at the end of the first half and running starting tailback Reggie Bush on a meaningless play. Bush, who entered Sunday at the NFL’s second-leading rusher, injured his knee on the play and didn’t return. Philbin did not update Bush's status after the game.

Philbin and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman also could have done a better job to get Carpenter a little closer before his 48-yard attempt by running the ball more.

It’s unfortunate that a very competitive rivalry game came down to two missed kicks and one big coaching error. The Dolphins must find a way to pick up the pieces from a tough Week 3 and not let this emotional loss impact the remainder of their season.

“I think they’re disappointed. Dejected,” Philbin said of the overall mood of the team. “This is a game where division games are important. Home games are important. We talked about winning all of our September 1 o’clock games, building that advantage, so it’s disappointing.”