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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins fans still buzzing over “Mountaineer Shot” trick play

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Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
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Move over, “Miami Miracle,” we now have a rival Dolphins trick play that will be talked about forever by fans and observers.

While it wasn’t the crazy lateral clinching play that Miami scored on with no time left to defeat the Patriots last December, “Mountaineer Shot,” as it’s known, is one of the wildest gadget plays to ever score a TD in the NFL. That’s because it involved the punter throwing to the kicker for a touchdown on a fake field goal.

It was the second quarter with the Dolphins trailing the Eagles 13 – 7, when Miami elected to kick a field goal (or so we thought) from Philadelphia’s 1-yard line.

That’s when dolphin punter Matt Haack lined up behind Center Daniel Kilgore with Miami spreading players to the right and the left. Then, what happened next was comical special teams touchdown, maybe in NFL history:

Haack’s first ever NFL completion was a forward option pitch to the kicker, Jason Sanders. And for good measure, it was Sanders first reception in his entire football career (dating back to high school) with the play stunning the Eagles and helping Miami pull off a 37 – 31 upset win.

Here was more on the play from David Wilson of the Miami Herald, including how long coach Brian Flores, special teams coach Danny Crossman and the players had been waiting to pull it out of the bag of tricks:

“We felt like that was a good time to run it,” coach Brian Flores said, and it gave us a spark….

“It was one of those plays Miami had been waiting weeks for the chance to run. Tight end Mike Gesicki said the Dolphins started working on it about two months ago and have been waiting weeks for the right opportunity to arise. Sunday finally presented such an opportunity….

“The gutsy call was just the latest in a line of gutsy calls by special teams coordinator Danny Crossman. In an October loss to the Buffalo Bills, Haack ran for a first down on a fake punt attempt. Last month, the Dolphins successfully executed a surprise onside kick in another loss to the Bills….

“The gutsy call was Crossman distilled to his mad-scientist essence.

“Danny Crossman is crazy. Like what is he dreaming up? This is the NFL,” quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said. “Like, that’s not—that doesn’t happen.”

Of course there is further irony that the Eagles famously ran their “Philly Special” play, which was an option pass to then-quarterback Nick Foles, for a touchdown in their upset of the Patriots in Super Bowl 52.

So, teams have constantly been looking to get the Eagles on trick plays themselves.

This would include the Patriots having run a double pass to wide receiver Julian Edelman, who threw a touchdown against them in New England’s 17-10 victory couple of weeks ago at Philly.

Back to “Mountaineer Shot” on Sunday. The play is named for the center, Kilgore, because he played at Appalachian State, whose nickname is the Mountaineers.

And as for the historical aspects of the play, Sanders became the first kicker to catch a touchdown pass in an NFL game since Baltimore’s Jim Turner did it in a game in 1977.

And, it is the first time since the AFL – NFL merger in 1970 that our punter has thrown a touchdown pass to the kicker.

Oh, and the Fins have suddenly come to life with three wins in four games after and 0-7 start. And, it’s in part because the team is still playing hard for a coach and coaching staff that’s willing to take wild risks they did with “Mountaineer Shot,” Sunday.

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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins look to win in familiar road place

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Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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Forgive the Dolphins is they are feeling like they’re having a little “Deja Vu.” That’s because for the second straight week, they will be right back at the Meadowlands, as the visitors. This time, against the Giants.

However, we’ll further forgive the Fins, coach Brian Flores and the fans, if they aren’t quite over last weekend’s trip to “the Big Apple.”

Questionable calls and decisions by the coaching staff have plagued the Dolphins all season. And in the 4th quarter, just when it seemed like they were going to make another one that could cost them the game, they called time out and ended up making the right call.

That’s when Miami, trailing the Jets 16 to 15 and sitting around the 28-yard line, was about to go for it on 4th and one after just hitting a 53-yard field goal earlier. But, after thinking about it, they sent Jason Sanders and the field goal unit on, yet again, with him kicking a 37-yarder… That made it six field goals on the day for the Dolphins, and they finished with an amazing seven made field goals, setting a new Miami Dolphins record.

Going into Week 14, the Dolphins were scoring 16.67 points per game. Prior to their showdown with the Jets this weekend where they covered the spread at SBR best sportsbook, the Fins were putting up 16 points on the road, but now they have managed to increase that number to exactly 17 points per game on the highway.

They did everything they wanted and needed, made the Jets use all three of their time outs and then put up that last field goal to take the lead… but still blew it on defense on first down of the next possession when Darnold threw the ball from the 20-yard line to Smith and coverage went for the deflection instead of a solid tackle in-bounds and the Smith ended up getting a long reception with a chunk of yards after the catch.

Then, a big and controversial pass interference that we wrote about Monday that wasn’t called on the field to keep the drive alive. Then with nothing left on the clock, Jets kicker Sam Ficken boots a field goal to win the game 22-21. Miami lost, but again, they didn’t get beaten by the Jets, they beat themselves with silly mistakes on the final drive.

The Giants have struggled all season. They had a brief moment of hope early in the year when Daniel Jones had a couple of good games. But since then, they have been tail-spinning in a downward spiral. They went back veteran Super Bowl winning QB Eli Manning on Monday night, and looked good for 17-3 third quarter lead. Alas, they allowed the Eagles to tie them late and beat them with a TD in overtime.

That pretty well sums up the sad state of the Giants, who may be parting with coach Pat Shurmur soon.

The G-men are putting up 19 points per game overall, but they fall to 16.66 points per game while at home and allow almost 26 (25.66) per game. Meanwhile, the Dolphins allow 27.33 per game on the road.

So we have what amounts to a less than 1-point scoring differential. This one could be another battle just like we saw last weekend against the Jets.

As we mentioned, the plus side for the Dolphins is it’s the same stadium. It isn’t like they have to go to a different venue on their back-to-back road games, and they should be familiar.

Now, let’s see if Miami can put the ball in the endzone this week.

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Miami Dolphins

Pass interference overrule in Jets win over Dolphins shows flaws

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Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
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The inconsistent application and rulings of the new NFL pass interference replay policy was, again, on full display Sunday afternoon at The Meadowlands. And when the league’s officiating command center gave the Jets a first down on a pass interference call that wasn’t even made by their game officials, it helped New York kick the winning field goal to beat the Dolphins 22 – 21.

And, understandably, Dolphins coach Brian Flores was none too happy with the whole thing.

Although Flores refused to elaborate about why he went running after and arguing with the officials before his post-game handshake with Jets coach (and former Dolphins boss) Adam Gase, it was clear he was none too pleased with the ending to the game.

To reset the scene, the Jets were driving trying to retake the lead trailing 21 – 19. This was after Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders had made his seventh field goal  from 37 yrards for Miami to hold a two-point advantage.

Then on a 3rd and 18 play, Sam Darnold’s incompletion to Vyncint Smith may or may not have been enough contact to throw a flag. The on-field officials let it go.

But, that’s when the NFL supervisor of officials Al Riveron, his assistants and the command center initiated a replay review, as it was under two minutes remaining in the game.

Eventually Riveron overruled the on-field refs, and he  gave the Jets the pass interference call, a first down at the Miami 38, and it eventually led to Sam Ficken making the game winning field goal from 44 yards out with no time left.

Now, it was not the first time, even recently, that the NFL has done this in the final two minutes with the game on the line. In the Buccaneers win over the Arizona Cardinals last month, Riveron and the command center overruled the on-field officials having not thrown a flag. That’s when Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans was clearly interfere with in the end zone, as Tampa Bay was looking for the go-ahead touchdown.

The Buccaneers got a first and goal at the one, scored  and won the game 30 – 27.

Further adding to the confusion and controversy is that the NFL has been so reluctant to overturn flags for pass interference, one way or the other, throughout this first year of using instant replay for pass interference.

However the command center in New York has now demonstrated, not just with the Evans situation but even another case in the Dolphins-Browns game a couple of weeks ago, that they will use replay to overrule their on-field officials and make a penalty call in the final two minutes of a half or game.

Our Jason Cole wrote that this aspect of the review mechanism is troubling and potentially only going to get worse. This is because the league is interjecting themselves rather than backing their guys on the field who didn’t throw a flag unless it is blatantly obvious.

Back to Sunday, Miami had numerous chances, especially early, to get touchdowns while moving inside the Jets 10 yard line. However, three times, Sanders kicked a field goal of 28 yards or less giving Miami only nine points at the half.

The Dolphins had plenty of struggles in losing to Gase/their AFC East rival, and the replay decisions out New York aren’t going to make anyone feel any better about it.

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