“I thought his decision-making was good again,” Philbin said. “He played a smart game. Didn’t give the ball to the opposition. There weren’t a lot of throws that they had more guys than we had. I’m not saying everything is perfect or everything was 100 percent, but when you don’t throw the ball to the other team, that’s a good place to start.
“I thought he was efficient and ran the offense good.”
And I think the coaching staff did a magnificent job.
The play-calling on that third-quarter drive was impressive. The fake punt that Chris Clemons turned into a first down with a 3-yard run was courageous and was the culmination of a week’s worth of identifying a St. Louis weakness and then practicing it time and again.
The Dolphins kept the football an extra 2 1/2 minutes because of that successful fake, so they gave St. Louis the football with 1:41 to play instead of 4:15.
Using the clock
There was also this: Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman raised eyebrows in losses to the Jets and Arizona when he continued throwing the ball at a time that it was probably better to run and burn time off the clock.
This game, in a similar situation, Sherman called runs on four of his final five plays. It chewed seconds off the clock. It worked.
So where can all this lead? How good can a team that is steadily improving be?
“The ceiling? It’s a long way from here, I’ll tell you that much,” Karlos Dansby said. “We’re nowhere near there right now. We got a lot of growing to do. That’s from the head down. But everyday we strive to get better and that’s why you play the game — to get better.
“It’s definitely gotten better. But we’re still a long way from being perfect.”