Armando Salguero: Miami Dolphins not dwelling on the past with New England Patriots
12/11/2013 12:00 AM
12/11/2013 6:12 PM
The New England Patriots have beaten the Dolphins seven consecutive times. In the past decade, they have dominated Miami, winning 14 of 19 games. Coach Joe Philbin is winless in three outings against the Patriots and a dozen players who will start for him Sunday have never beaten the Patriots, either.
So when the Patriots visit the Dolphins this weekend, history will be no friend of the home team.
And that’s apparently OK for the Dolphins because they don’t think much of history’s ability to make plays.
“Oh, you’re talking about the past? You’re talking about the past? That’s the past,” Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace said of New England’s 10-year stranglehold on the Dolphins.
“I don’t think they dominated us this year. They won the game. But you’re still talking about the past, though, right? We got a game to play on Sunday. It’ll be at 1 o’clock. You just show up. We got a little something up our sleeve.
“Like I said, we do a lot of preparing around here. We’re in meetings for hours and hours. I’m really feeling our energy right now, our team chemistry, and I think guys are having a really good time out here right now. Coach Philbin is having a good time. Everybody in the building is having a good time.
“And I feel like as long as we translate this energy we’ve been having in the locker room and meetings and things to the field, if we have fun, we could be dangerous down the stretch. We have a lot of good players on our team. If guys are going to games being focused, being loose, I think we’ll be a dangerous team down the stretch.”
The Dolphins picked a good time to become dangerous. They have a chance to earn a postseason berth if they can stretch their two-game win streak. They are relevant because they have won four of the past six games.
And the season’s direction will be determined the next three games — all against divisional rivals.
Although the Patriots are the biggest obstacle during that stretch, the Dolphins claim they have no hang-up about an opponent that has owned them since 2010 and troubled them a lot longer than that.
“Nothing like that,” cornerback Nolan Carroll said. “We know we can match up with this team. It’s just when it comes down to the final quarter, they find a way to win. That’s what they do well. We need to do that, too. We’re not frustrated because we know we can play with this team.
“They’re good, they’re very good. They’ve been successful for a lot of years, but at the same time, we know our goals are ahead of us. We can continue this momentum; it can carry us into the playoffs. And that’s all we’re thinking about right now.”
The thinking within the Dolphins organization is that the Patriots win many of their games because they never quit — always playing until and often winning on the final play. And they don’t make many mistakes.
“You look at their general scheme, they have a Hall-of-Fame quarterback, who they’ve had for a while, and that’s a huge part of it,” receiver Brian Hartline said. “But they have a bunch of guys, although skillful, that just don’t make a lot of mistakes.
“They’re just guys that if you play a team that 95 percent of the team is doing things right 95 percent of the time, that’s hard to beat.”
Hartline suggests the Patriots’ success is not solely about them having the most talented players.
“Not being disrespectful, but you don’t see the Dez Bryant crazy plays or any freakish athletic plays,” he said. “You just see a bunch of guys doing their job, playing football, blocking and tackling.
“They don’t turn the ball over. They don’t fumble. When guys have a chance to intercept the ball, they intercept it. You see it all over the field. You never hear anything coming out of their locker room. I mean, I have the ultimate respect for those guys. They do a really good job.”
They also rely on other teams not doing great work. The Patriots, tied for second in the AFC in turnover margin, count on mistakes from their opponents. And typically get those mistakes.
The Dolphins, not surprisingly, have offered up plenty of those during their seven-game skid against the Patriots.
In the loss in October, the Dolphins missed a field goal early in the second half and gave up a sack that led to a fumble and gave New England the ball at Miami’s 12-yard line. Last season, the Dolphins also fumbled a punt that gave New England the football inside the 10 yard line.
“They’re too good, they’re too good,” Philbin said. “You can’t do that stuff.”
The Dolphins expect they won’t do that stuff Sunday. And if that’s the case, the team that hasn’t beaten New England since 2009 believes itself every bit the equal of its divisional foe.
“Yeah, why not?” Wallace said. “We feel we’re just as good as anybody. This isn’t about the Patriots. This is about the Miami Dolphins and what we do. I feel like as long as we go out and execute our plays like our coaches teach us every single day and all the meetings we go through, I feel like we’re just as prepared as anybody.
“I’m on this team. I’m always going to feel like we’re equal or better than teams. I’m never going to say my team is beneath another team. That would just be crazy.”
About Armando Salguero
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