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Miami Dolphins

Both Dolphins and Jay Ajayi suddenly very relevant

Christopher Fischer

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Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire
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Stuck toward the back of the pack at the first quarter pole of the season, the Dolphins have managed to find their stride thanks to the legs of Jay Ajayi at the halfway point. A run that appeared destined for an eighth consecutive season without a winning record, could end with Miami’s first playoff birth since 2008.

While a 4-4 record may not indicate a playoff caliber team, keep this in mind; only ONE of the final eight games of the season comes against a team with a winning record. For a team that has found their niche running the ball, there is no reason to think they can’t pound their way to the postseason.

“I’m definitely proud of what we’ve accomplished,” said Ajayi. “But at the same time we’re not sitting on any of that stuff, we’re just trying to keep pushing forward.”

Over this three game winning streak, Ajayi has accounted for 529 of the Dolphins 615 rushing yards.

“I reminded our guys again today, don’t let me go away from Jay,” said coach Adam Gase. “What makes Jay so affective is, he’s a guy who runs very angry and when you can do that for four quarters, eventually the other team is going to break.”

Ajayi’s running style, along with the aggression shown by the offensive line blocking has led to an epiphany that Miami may actually be a playoff team.

Sunday’s win over the Jets wasn’t pretty by any means. But it was an all around team victory: two interceptions, a special teams go-ahead score and a commitment to winning the time of possession battle all bolds well.

While the rushing attack is seeing a surge the past few weeks, it’s taken plays away from the passing game. In particular, WR Jarvis Landry has seen his chances to make plays go down.

Gase on Monday said he needs to do a better job of getting the ball in to Landry’s hands.
Landry hauled in only 3 catches on Sunday, and has seen his targets drop over the winning streak. Back in Week 5, Landry was tied for the NFL lead in receptions, but has since dropped to eighth with 49 receptions.

“I need to figure out a way to get him the ball, where he can catch it and go and make some plays which he did.” said Gase. “When we put the ball in his hands, he makes something happen and what did he have three catches? That’s just unacceptable and that’s all on me.”

I’m an advocate of “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it;” with the Dolphins rattling off three straight victories by feeding Ajayi the ball, then let him feast. The last thing they want is to deviate from success and hit another early season famine.

A native Floridian who graduated from Clearwater High School and the University of Florida, Chris Fischer has spent nearly 15 years in Sports Televison, including the last five as Sports Reporter and Anchor with the CBS affiliate in Tampa Bay-WTSP. He is a multi time AP Sports and Local Emmy award winner and will be seen this season as a sideline reporter on CBS-TV’s network coverage of the NFL.Chris brings enthusiasm and passion (particularly when it comes to his Gators) to College and NFL coverage to F.F.I.

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Miami Dolphins

“Mountaineer Shot” earns Dolphins K Sanders AFC honors

Florida Football Insiders

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
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One of the great trick plays, not just of this NFL season but in recent pro football memory, has earned the Dolphins kicker who caught a touchdown pass Sunday AFC weekly honors.

The league announced Wednesday that kicker Jason Sanders, who became the first place-kicker to catch a touchdown pass in 42 years, is the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week:

Sanders also made his only field-goal attempt, as well as two extra points, earned the weekly honor for Miami’s 37 – 31 upset of the Eagles.

However, it is the play that is known as “Mountaineer Shot” that Sanders will forever be remembered for not just in Dolphin history, but NFL.

We wrote about the play on Monday, as head coach Brian Flores and special teams coordinator Danny Crossman implemented the direct snap to punter Matt Haack, while players were spread wide on either side of the formation.

Haack then, took the snap, rolled left and when the Eagles rushed at him, he flipped the ball to Sanders for the touchdown. The play is named for the center, Kilgore, because he played at Appalachian State, whose nickname is the Mountaineers. And, it’s something that Dolphins had been practicing regularly on and off for the past two months.

Furher, 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.

It is also the first time since the AFL – NFL merger in 1970 that a punter has completed a touchdown pass to a kicker and the play will live on for years and years to come.

It is the second time that Sanders has won the AFC special teams player of the week award this season. He also got the honor for his two clultch 48 yard field goals in the fourth quarter of the Dolphins 16-12 upset of the Indianapolis Colts in November.

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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins fans still buzzing over “Mountaineer Shot” trick play

Florida Football Insiders

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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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