For the past five-years on the NFL sidelines Matt Moore has been among the elite clipboard holders in the game. If the head coach turns to the left Moore’s there, a side step to the right and Moore’s next to him. But tonight at Met Life Stadium Moore will ditch his post next to Adam Gase for the spot behind center, making his first start since 2011.
“I’ve done this before, just trying to jump in and not let these guys miss a beat,” said Moore earlier this week.
Missing a beat, could mean missing the playoffs for the Dolphins. Currently sitting tied with Denver for the final spot of the Wild Card, a victory tonight is vital against the rival Jets.
“(Moore’s) been preparing every week just being ready to go, which probably isn’t the easiest thing to do considering the guy who was starting hadn’t missed a game,” said Gase. “(Moore’s) done a good job in staying right with the offense, that’s why he was able to go in last week and perform the way he did.”
With Ryan Tannehill on the mend from an ACL and MCL injury suffered Sunday, this is Moore’s offense for now, which will also be without offensive line leader C Mike Pouncey for the remainder of the season. Tannehill told me in earlier in the season “Pouncey is the quarterback of the line, always getting guys in the right position.”
With a backup battery of C Anthony Steen and Moore the rest of the way, it will be important for running back Jay Ajayi to break out of his century mark drought.
“I think this team has been really resilient, whoever goes in there just has to get the job done,” said offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen Thursday. “That’s the nature of this league, that’s why you have to do a great job personnel-wise.”
The Jets know the effects of the personnel revolving door, as QB Bryce Petty will make just his third NFL start. Petty led the rally for the OT win at San Francisco last week and will expect to get help from his number one target Brandon Marshall, who is never at a loss for words. This week Marshall threw shade at how Dolphins CB Byron Maxwell shadows the wideout. Marshall complained Maxwell held him on numerous occasions in the Dolphins 27-23 win in Week 9.
“I’ll be carrying my own flag just in case he decides to conduct himself the same way,” said Marshall, as he held up a flag to the media. “So I will help the refs out, but I thought they did a tremendous job the last time we played them.”
You hope the refs don’t make that big of an influence on a game this important to the Dolphins season. With a road game in frigid Buffalo next week and a showdown with the AFC leading Patriots to close out the regular season, this is do or die stuff starting tonight for Miami’s playoff livelihood.
A postseason opportunity few expected earlier in the year when they started 1-4, but one that resides in the grasp of their backup quarterback.
“I just try to stay ready for a situation like this and here we are,” said Moore.
And here too, are the Dolphins. Let’s see what they have.
“Mountaineer Shot” earns Dolphins K Sanders AFC honors
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:
Special Teams Players of the Week (Week 13):
— NFL (@NFL) December 4, 2019
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.
Dolphins fans still buzzing over “Mountaineer Shot” trick play
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:
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) December 1, 2019
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.