Coming off road win, Dolphins finally return home this week
DAVIE, Fla. (AP) If the Miami Dolphins miss the playoffs for the seventh year in a row, which is likely, their fans will be able to offer firsthand feedback.
Five of Miami's final seven games are at home, starting Sunday against Dallas.
The Dolphins (4-5) hope the scheduling quirk will help them stage a late-season surge. But even with Sunday's 20-19 victory at Philadelphia, Miami is last in the AFC East and a long shot to make the postseason, due in part to an NFL-worst 0-4 record within their division.
The 2015 Dolphins have played in their stadium only twice, and just once since Sept. 27. They also were designated the home team Oct. 4 in London, when they lost to the Jets.
It's the first time since the 1970 NFL merger that a team had only two games scheduled in its stadium in the first 10 weeks of the season, according to STATS.
''It'll be good to get back home in front of our crowd,'' interim coach Dan Campbell said Monday. ''Bottom line we've got another game. Whether it's there or here or in the parking lot, we've got to go win.''
Campbell's lone home game as interim coach was a rout of Houston three weeks ago, when the Dolphins led 41-0 at halftime.
Receiver Jarvis Landry said he can't even remember how to get to the stadium, which happens to be undergoing a renovation costing more than $425 million. He's looking forward to the return.
''Good to be home,'' Landry said. ''Time for us to go on an eight-game win streak.''
Not that playing at home has been a big advantage in recent years for the Dolphins. Since 2003, their record in their stadium is 44-52 (.458), compared with 43-59 (.422) in away games. Since 2010, they've had more success as the away team (21-25, .457) than in their stadium (18-23, .439).
Some of that reflects a home-field advantage diluted by stands half-empty through the franchise's current long stretch of mediocrity.
Even so, the Dolphins look forward to playing at home after three consecutive road games.
''About time,'' cornerback Bobby McCain said. ''Now that we're at home, we've got to protect the fort.''
The Dolphins were lucky to come away from Philadelphia with a win. Miami scored on a deflected pass, and Reshad Jones intercepted Mark Sanchez in the end zone when the Eagles were on the verge of taking a late lead.
But the Dolphins were also encouraged about a strong defensive showing, led by Ndamukong Suh, who totaled eight tackles, three tackles for a loss, three quarterback hurries and a sack in his best game yet for Miami.
''He was in the backfield all day,'' Campbell said. ''He's a menace.''
The run defense, which entered the game ranked 31st in the NFL, allowed the Eagles only 2.3 yards per rush.
''I think we're starting to gel together as a unit, especially up front,'' Suh said.
The Dolphins overcame a 16-3 deficit and a secondary depleted by injury and illness. Several rookies played important roles, including McCain, cornerback Tony Lippett, linebacker Neville Hewitt and linebacker Zach Vigil, who blocked a punt to set up.
''A lot of guys stepped up,'' quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. ''It says something about our toughness when we hit adversity.''
Hewitt, who saw his most extensive action of the season, was so taxed by the Eagles' uptempo offense that he became ill in the second half. He kept playing.
''I think he threw up three times,'' Campbell said, ''which is great.''
Linebacker Jelani Jenkins (ankle) and cornerback Brice McCain (knee) were forced from the game. Their injuries weren't serious, and their status is day to day, Campbell said.
Cornerback Brent Grimes, who missed the game with a stomach ailment, is expected to be fine this week.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL
Follow Steven Wine on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Steve-Wine. . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/steven-wine