Late Safety Helps Dolphins Rally Past Vikings 37-35

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross stood on the sideline at the end of Sunday's wild victory, sharing a laugh with those around him, his mind made up regarding the direction of the franchise.

He's keeping his coach.

The Dolphins will sit out the playoffs for the sixth year in a row despite Sunday's 37-35 victory over Minnesota, but afterward Ross announced Joe Philbin will return for a fourth season as coach.

"We're building something great here," Ross said in the locker room. "He's the right guy. ... I believe in this team. I believe in the coach."

Ross said his decision wasn't based on what happened Sunday, but the win certainly helped the Dolphins' mood after dismal back-to-back losses squashed their playoff hopes.

Rookie Terrence Fede blocked a punt for a safety with 41 seconds left, and Ryan Tannehill threw four touchdown passes. Miami outscored the Vikings 23-18 in a bizarre fourth quarter.

Both teams went into the game playing for pride rather than a postseason berth, but the outcome had plenty of significance for third-year coach Philbin, whose job is in jeopardy. Miami improved to 8-7, and Philbin might return if the Dolphins achieve their first winning season since 2008.

Minnesota, which has been out of the playoff race since Thanksgiving, fell to 6-9 under first-year coach Mike Zimmer.

The Dolphins overcame a 14-0 deficit to take the lead, but trailed again after giving up 15 points in an 11-second span in the fourth quarter.

Tannehill then drove Miami 80 yards and hit Damien Williams for a 3-yard score with 1:11 left to make it 35-all. Minnesota failed to pick up a first down, and Fede blocked Jeff Locke's punt out of the end zone for the game-winner.

Tannehill went 35 for 47 for 396 yards, and directed an offense that totaled 36 first downs and 493 yards. He shook off a costly interception and two sacks and was knocked down at least eight other times.

Mike Wallace caught touchdown passes of 16 and 7 yards and has 10 scores this year.

Vikings rookie Teddy Bridgewater, playing in his hometown, was also efficient if not as prolific as Tannehill. He went 19 for 25 for 259 yards and two scores.

The Vikings trailed 28-20 but drove 59 yards for a touchdown and made the 2-point conversion. On the ensuing kickoff they recovered Jarvis Landry's fumble at the 5, and Matt Asiata ran for the go-ahead touchdown with 4:35 to go.

Miami regrouped, and its tying drive was aided by a pass interference penalty on Xavier Rhodes on third-and-14. Williams scored on the next play.

Safety Harrison Smith set up a touchdown when he blitzed and intercepted Tannehill's pass at point-blank range deep in Miami territory. Three plays later, Bridgewater led Greg Jennings perfectly for a 21-yard score and a 14-0 lead.

But the Vikings squandered an early two-touchdown cushion in a loss at Detroit last week, and they couldn't hold their leads against Miami, either. Lamar Miller's 1-yard plunge on third down at the start of the fourth quarter put the Dolphins ahead for the first time. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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