DOLPHINS HEAD COACH JOE PHILBIN**
JP:I want to congratulate the Patriots, they played a good football game and they deserved to win the game.
Q:Joe, you guys entered this game as the NFL's best-scoring team in the third quarter. What happened there in the third quarter, offensively and defensively?
JP: **Well, you know, we kicked off and they had the ball and they went right down the field and scored, and then we had a three-and-out, and then they got the ball and brought it down the field, kicked the field goal and then, if I'm not mistaken, we might have turned it over the next time. I'm not exactly sure of the sequence but it's pretty close…I'm not sure.
Q:Coach, early in the game you moved the ball down the field, had the field goal blocked… I mean, another time when you weren't able to get the touchdown on the board but you get into the red zone, and it turns into a touchdown for them… and then you had a first and 25, first and 15, first and 15… we talked about just tough ways to get going offensively against a team like this here.
JP:Yeah, I mean, obviously the game started on a good, positive play for us, but we're down there in good position and weren't able to capitalize. They made a play and we didn't do a good job protecting, you know, and then there was another opportunity there in the red zone… I think we got to the six or seven yard line, maybe, and kicked the field goal. So you got to capitalize on those opportunities.
Q:You get the late touchdown in the first half, you get within a point, you feel like momentum is on your side. Then you come out in the second half and you couldn't have had a worse start defensively.
JP:Couldn't agree with you more. I mean, yeah, I think they went right down the field and scored and, you know, without much resistance on our part.
Q:You said, going into this game the other day, you told us that you were going to find out a lot about yourselves in this game today. What did you find out about your team?
JP:Well, we haven't played a… I just told the team we got to play 60 minutes of football. And even though we were losing at halftime, I thought we were playing competitively and certainly we would have a good opportunity to win the game but you have to play 60 minutes, and you can't make the mistakes that we made… getting field goals blocked, they had an interception, I think they started possession on our eight... I think they started a possession on our 25 or 30. Yeah, this is an excellent football team. It's hard to do that stuff.
Q:Twenty four points in the third quarter…a little helpless feeling standing on the sideline as it all kind of was coming unraveled?
JP:Yeah, yeah we didn't play well. We didn't play well in the third quarter, we didn't coach too well in the third quarter, and you know…
Q:Joe, back in July, Steve Ross played out a benchmark of seeing progress in 2014. After the last two weeks against the de facto playoff teams, can you point to progress in this franchise?
JP:No I'm not… today we lost a game to the New England Patriots. There will be a time to evaluate how much progress we've made but today we lost a game, the New England Patriots deserved to win.
Q:Are you at all concerned that you might not be the coach in 2015?
JP:I'm not concerned one bit.
Q:Joe, you guys had a couple of deep passes that weren't completed. Brian Hartline… did he get the sun in his eyes?
JP:Might have been a little sun. The sun was tough in the first quarter. I think maybe it was.
Q:And what about Damien Williams? Looked like the…
JP:Yeah, I mean, it looked like he had an opportunity to make a play.
Q:Joe, there was a third-down call, third-and-six on the first drive where you called a run play. What was the thinking there? That set up the field goal that eventually got blocked and returned for a touchdown.
JP:I think that was part of the game plan we had on third down. We meet on third down every single week, we come up with plays in each down and distance category and that was one of the plays we came up with.
Q:The blocked field goal, what happened?
JP:Looked like it came through the C-gap if I'm not mistaken, and, you know, we schemed up pretty well. And, you know, I'll take a look at the film… I don't know if the kick could have been a little higher, maybe. I don't know. But they certainly penetrated and I believe it was 91 [Jamie] Collins, if I'm not mistaken. They made a good play we got to do a better job of protecting the kicker.
Q:With your playoff hopes in very small…
JP:We got to win a game. We're not even going to talk about it. I told the team we got to come back to work on Tuesday and see if we can win a game. Play 60 minutes of football before we worry about anything else.
Q:That's what I was going to ask you. How do you maintain that intensity and focus now that your goal's kind of getting away?
JP:We're all professionals. We're all paid to do a job and you know, that's what I'm going to starting when I get on the plane, going to look at film and make the corrections and coach. That's what we're supposed to do, that's what players do, that's what coaches do.
Q:Over the past four weeks, you've given up an average of 29.5 points on defense. What has gone wrong with this defense?
JP:We haven't stopped the run. We just haven't been playing the type of defense that we're used to playing. I mean, today, I think the scoreboard certainly is not kind to our defense but you know, again, we had a field goal blocked, we gave the offense, the defense… their offense on our eight yard line, gave it to them on the 24 yard line. I mean the stat sheet, probably yards, I didn't even see it, I don't really even care, but it's probably not as bad as it could be but the scoreboard's not too good.
DOLPHINS QUARTERBACK RYAN TANNEHILL
Q:It was a tough day offensively trying to put points on the board.
RT:Yeah, we didn't come out and score enough points. I think we moved the ball well offensively in the first half, didn't score a touchdown on the first drive, got the blocked kick and then didn't score again when we got it down there inside the 20 again. So, you can't do that and then obviously the second half we didn't perform well, we didn't move the ball well, we didn't execute really in any phase of the game. So, you can't do that and win.
Q: **Ryan, you've seen this over a while, the scoring in the red zone. You get in the red zone and you want to convert to touchdowns. What need needs to happen for that to occur?
RT:You have to execute, you know, I think Coach [Bill] Lazor puts us in some good positions to make plays. Today we just didn't do a good job of executing.
Q:How frustrating was that third quarter? Going into halftime feeling pretty good about it, and then the bottom just fell out in the third quarter: turnovers, they scored. It seemed like they could do anything they wanted to do in that quarter.
RT:Yeah, we didn't come out and play. You know, I felt good coming in at half and obviously came with a little momentum. They scored to start the half, but I still felt good about our offense. You know, we tried to run on third-and-short and came up, I don't know, six inches short on that. Then the next drive, I think, was the pick where Lamar [Miller] got hit in the back, still kind of frustrating. You know, you do that and they are scoring points, you're not going to win. So, we've got to find a way to make those drives work and score points.
Q:Obviously, you felt going into this game that you could throw the ball down the field. In that first series you hit Mike [Wallace] for a long gain. You had a couple balls in the end zone, right in your receivers' hands and they couldn't come up with the completions. How do you make those work, how do you turn that into points?
RT:Just make the plays. You know, they are right there for all of us, so you just got to make them.
Q:Ryan, back in training camp, Stephen Ross's benchmark for this team was to show progress. Can you point to progress with team or have you gotten better from last year? Not you personally, but the team.
RT:Yeah, I think we are a better team. Obviously it doesn't feel like it right now. To be where we are at at this point is tough. I feel like with the guys we have in that room, the players that we have there is no way we should be sitting where we are at right now. You know, that is frustrating for me. The fact of the matter is we just haven't made the plays that were there. We let games slip away, let plays slip away, and it's tough.
Q:There's going to be a lot of conversation in the next couple of weeks about Head Coach Joe Philbin's future in this franchise, should he be the coach of this team in 2015?
RT:It's not on Coach. Coach puts us in a good position. [He] prepares us well and the fact of the matter is we're not out there making the plays. So you can't put that on Coach. He'll take responsibility, but he's not the one out there messing up the plays and not executing. So when you take a real look at it, it's on the players.
Q:What was the difference between this game and the one in the beginning of the season when you were able to beat them?
RT:The second half. You know, you look at the second half in the first game, we were able to come out and score points. [It was the] exact opposite in this game, so it's pretty clear.
Q:You guys have now fallen to 1-4 in your last five December games. Both years you've had a chance to make the playoffs. How do you explain falling off late in the season?
RT:It's tough. Like I said, we didn't make the plays. We had a lot of opportunities. [We] felt good coming in, thought we matched up well. We were right in there. I felt like we outplayed them in the first half. You look at the blocked field goal for a touchdown and then miscommunication on the coverage and the pick and [we] put them inside the 10. You take away those two plays and we were definitely out-playing them. I think we came into halftime confident and what happened in the second half is totally on the players and kind of unexplainable. We didn't perform.
Q:What'd you see there on your first pick that sailed high over Brandon Gibson?
RT:Just miscommunication on the coverage. I read it as something; he saw something else, tried to anticipate the throw and obviously that's what happened.
Q:You guys haven't thrown down the field much this year, yet you did a lot in the first half and very effectively. Why today – did you see something or was it just unleashed today?
RT:We just called more today. I think we played [against] a lot of man so it was pretty simple to see. I think later in the game they started mixing a lot of more zone, but early in the game we kind of knew what they were going to be in and wanted to challenge them downfield and we did that.
Q:One of the questions has been, 'Can you throw downfield,' yet you probably had touchdowns dropped and you hit the 50-yarder. Do you feel confident throwing downfield?
RT:Yeah, I feel confident. I think one games doesn't put the nail in the coffin or anything. I've felt confident all year that we can make the plays. We had a few more opportunities today, we just didn't make them.
Q:You guys did have a few missed opportunities on deep balls. Can you tell me what happened on the Brian Hartline pass and the Damien Williams pass? It looked like Brandon Gibson might have broken off a route there on the Patriots sideline. Can you tell me what went wrong on those three? Was the sun in Brian's eyes?
RT:Yeah, Hartline definitely had the sun in his eyes.
RT:I just don't think could come up with the play.
RT:I'm totally blanking on that play, I'm sorry. But yeah, the other two we had opportunities. The sun was tough. I saw it in pregame. Warming up just looking in that direction, it was tough. We had opportunity but with the sun – the sun won that play.
Q:You are not mathematically eliminated, but most likely eliminated from playoff contention. As one of the leaders of the team what's your mentality and what's the mentality of the team for these final two games?
RT:You're playing for pride. You're playing for the name on the back of your jersey and the name on the front – the Dolphins. You represent yourself every time you step on that field –your name and everything about yourself. You have to go out and play even if it may not be for the playoffs. You have to play in a way that you want to see yourself represented and for your teammates too. I love the guys that are on this team. I love battling with them even in tough games. I see the guys out there on the offensive line battling. I love being out there with those guys. I don't have any question that we'll be able to come out and perform in the next two games.
Walt Aikens, Safety
(On the difference between the first and second half)
"They played a good game and they deserved to win. We went out and played hard, but they came out on top in the end. We have got to play better. They got the momentum and it was tough for us to regain that and come back. That was pretty much it."
(On the Tom Brady scramble play)
"He got up, and he was like, 'Woo!', he was excited. They try to protect the quarterback but when I saw he wasn't sliding I tried to give him what I had on the sideline. I got a nice shot on him. Just a little bit because he is a QB and you have to watch for him sliding but if they don't you got to take a shot on him. "
Brent Grimes, Cornerback
(On the mood of the team at the end of the first half)
"We were in a good mood; we had just swung the momentum. We were confident and we were making plays, getting stops. In the second half, they made plays and we didn't. They made some big plays that were uncharacteristic of us. We gave up some big passing plays; I don't know the exact number of yards they were. If you look at us through the season we don't give up big passing plays, and we did that today. That's a good team and we made too many mistakes and when you're playing a team like the Patriots, who are a great team year in and year out, you can't give them big plays on the field because they'll capitalize."
(On Gronkowski in the first half versus the second half)
"I'm not sure what they really did different. They just ran their offense; that's what's good about the Patriots. They run their plays and they take their shots when they have their chance. Tom Brady made some great throws, and they made some great catches. It just came down to us making more mistakes than they did, and a team like that, when you make mistakes they're going to capitalize."
(On picking up the pieces)
"Just having pride in your craft, you want to go out there and put this stuff on the field. This loss hurts; we were confident in what we had going on coming into this game. It didn't go the way we wanted it to, but we've got two more games at home and we have to come in there and play football like we know we can, and try to win two in a row."
Brian Hartline, Wide Receiver
(On the problem with the second half)
"I couldn't tell you until I watch the film and then I will have an answer for you. Turnovers didn't help and lack of big plays didn't help and they scored more points than we did."
Jared Odrick, Defensive Tackle
(On the status of Coach Joe Philbin)
"That's a question that is totally irrelevant to me and the team right now. Whether there is a sliver of hope or a mountain of hope, either way, you have to still fight to see what happens and how this plays out. We can't think about next year until this year is over."
(On what was different about this game for the pass rush)
"It's tough when you don't have a lead to truly pass rush. When you are in positions where he [Brady] just stands in the pocket and slings the ball around. He was getting the ball out and doing his job really well and we didn't do ours good enough. Simple as that."
(On what the mood was like at halftime)
"Energetic. We came in here with the mindset that we had momentum and let's take care of business and finish this game strong. We just didn't finish the game strong. We didn't take care of our opportunities."
Mike Pouncey, Guard
(On what happened in the second half)
"Coach came in and gave a really good speech at halftime; guys were pumped up. The other team just came out and outplayed us. It fell apart in the second half. They beat us up. They made more plays than we did. It's just not acceptable."
(On whether the Patriots have improved that much since the first meeting)
"It's the same players right? Obviously, I guess so. The first time we played them, we played really well in the second half. This time we weren't even down by a lot at halftime, we just didn't come out and play well after halftime."
Kelvin Sheppard, Linebacker
(On the game)
"It is hard to look at my play and single myself after a tough loss like this. Honestly, we looked at this as a must-win game. We felt coming into today we had a solid plan. We will watch the film and see where exactly we fell short. At the end of the day we didn't get the job done as a whole team."
(On the difference between the two halves)
"Honestly, you have to take your hat off to them. This isn't a time when you can make excuses for yourself. It is what it is. They obviously went in at the half and came out with a better tempo. It's the Patriots. You know they are led by one of the best in Tom [Brady] and you know it is going to be a 60 minute game when you play them. That is what we knew at the half. We tried to go back out and get the momentum on our side but that didn't happen. We fell short."
Daniel Thomas, Running Back
(On the difference between the two halves)
"They just played better than us in the second half. That is pretty much it. We were not able to move the ball and they just played better than us all around."
Jason Trusnik, Linebacker
(On the game)
"It was a combination of some things, including the players on the field maybe not getting there. It was a combination of a couple of things and we needed to find a way to stop their momentum or stop something and we just didn't. They rattled off a couple of touchdowns. It was a tough quarter and we gave away too much and coming out of the half we did not do a good job. "
(On the mood at half time)
"It was great. I know we came after having made a few big plays at the end before halftime. The score was 14 – 13 and were down a touchdown. We had great momentum going in and coming out. We were on a high coming in."
(On losing in New England)
"It is tough, the Patriots played well today and we didn't do enough to get that win. It is the NFL and we have another game next week and we have to go out and play a complete game against the Vikings next week and that is going to be our challenge this week."
Cameron Wake, Defensive End
(On what it felt like knowing they were eliminated from the playoffs)
"The dictionary isn't big enough. There aren't any words to describe it. Dumbfounded. To come out the way we did in the second half; it's pretty bad."
(On what the issue was in the second half)
"If I knew that, it wouldn't have been an issue. I would love to have the answer, but I don't. It's probably the worst half of football we've played as a team, in one of our biggest games of the season. It's disappointing."
(On whether he thought people had checked out)
"I have never felt that. At halftime, we were down by one point. There is no way I would be able to say that, but whatever happened, to go the second half the way we did, that's never happened in my recent memory."
Mike Wallace, Wide Receiver
(On the second half)
"It was awful; we didn't come out there to play. They [Patriots] whipped us from start to finish in the second half; from the first play to the last play. We just got our butt whipped, that's it. Bad! They dominated us the second half, totally."
(On working all year to just have it end like this)
"It is disappointing again; it's the same as last year, we had the season in our hands, we could have done something about it, it was up to us and we dropped the ball again. There isn't too much to say, we got dominated, we got outplayed totally in the second half. We went in there with a little momentum in the first half and in the second half it was no contest."
(On coach Joe Philbin)
"Coach Philbin is our coach; we're rocking with him no matter what. We've got a lot of things to deal with in the next two weeks. We know we've got to stay together, that's our coach."
(On when they told you about the first play of the game)
"Right before the game, when we were coming out of the tunnel. We did it and I could have had a touchdown, but it is what it is."
(On the Patriots defense )
"The Patriots are going to play their style irrelevant to what other teams do or what we do. They are going to play their type of football. They came out and played man-to-man until they went up in the game, that's when they went to cover-two a lot, but most of the time they played man-to-man in the first half; that's what they do. That's what they do every single game. I don't see any reason why they would change it for us."
Philip Wheeler, Linebacker
(On the second half)
"We didn't come out and play. We expected to come out there on defense and play with the momentum and come out fired up and we didn't. [The Patriots] made some good plays and I don't think we came out there flat and we were trying. They made some good plays. "
(On this year's finish being like last year's finish)
"It is a different year and a whole different situation. We just didn't finish the second half. We can't start comparing it to everything else. It is one game at a time and we should have played better in all phases everywhere: the whole team, players, special teams, offense, defense, coaches, everybody and everybody needs to do better."