October 13, 2014
Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin stands during the first half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers, Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Wilfredo Lee

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) Criticism of coach Joe Philbin filled the South Florida airwaves Monday, with fans complaining he passed when he should have run, ran when he should have passed, called timeouts that helped the opposition, and used the wrong defense on the touchdown that beat the Miami Dolphins with three seconds left.

A wrenching 27-24 loss to Green Bay inspired lots of second-guessing - on the radio, at the water cooler, even in the locker room - and Philbin accepted a share of the responsibility for the defeat.

''I have to do a better job, first and foremost,'' he said. ''I'm the head coach. There are things we could have done better in all three phases, coaching as well.''

The defeat did nothing to help the shaky job security of the third-year coach, who is 2-3 this season and 17-20 overall. The Dolphins will try to bounce back Sunday at Chicago (3-3).

But nearly 24 hours after Miami blew a seven-point lead in the final five minutes at home, Philbin was still rehashing his late-game decisions, all of which seemed to backfire.

''Some of them I wish worked out better,'' he said.

Aaron Rodgers took advantage of a mismatch in coverage to throw the winning 4-yard touchdown pass to tight end Andrew Quarless, who easily outmaneuvered linebacker Philip Wheeler for the score.

After the game, Wheeler blamed the touchdown on ''50 percent bad coverage, and 50 percent bad call.'' Philbin defended the choice of defense.

''Sometimes linebackers cover tight ends in football,'' he said. ''It's a coverage we know. It's a coverage we've practice. It's something we do and believe in. It's easy to say that play cost us the game. There are 170 plays in the game. There are a lot of plays prior to that one that certainly could have changed the outcome, so I don't want to blame that play for the loss.''

Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle conceded the coverage left Wheeler mismatched, but said Rodgers hadn't thrown to Quarless out of that formation previously.

''It was a difficult spot for Philip to be in, and the guy made a great throw,'' Coyle said. ''I can question it, we all can question it, but we saw the results.''

The Packers were out of timeouts during their winning 60-yard drive, but Philbin called timeout twice, including just before the winning touchdown. That gave Green Bay's offense a chance to get more organized, but Philbin said he called timeout to make sure there was no confusion on defense.

''It certainly didn't turn out to be the right decision, but it's something I've done in the past and obviously will continue to think about doing in the future,'' he said. ''I'm most concerned about our team and what our team does.''

Play selection during Miami's final possession also inspired plenty of debate. Leading 24-20, the Dolphins started at their 20 with four minutes left, and Philbin wanted to be aggressive in trying to seal the victory.

Of the seven plays in the series, four were passes, and two fell incomplete to stop the clock. Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor defended Philbin's approach.

''We tell the players we want to play to win, play aggressive, play loose, and I think it's our job to coach that way too,'' Lazor said. ''When Coach makes certain decisions on how we are going to play the game, then I think the players appreciate giving them a chance to go win the game.''

But the Packers mounted a strong pass rush, sacking Ryan Tannehill once, and on third-and-9 with three minutes left, Philbin opted to run off tackle. The play gained 1 yard, and Miami had to punt.

''I got a little queasy when I saw those guys running free, with the quarterback running for his life,'' Philbin said. ''I didn't want to see us fumble the football or do something potentially devastating.''

Instead, something devastating came moments later, leaving the Dolphins and their coach with a long list of what-ifs.


AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL


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