Around the state: Disappointment abounds
The NFL playoffs once again will not include a team from Florida.
The Florida non-playoff streak was officially extended to four seasons on Sunday, when the Miami Dolphins were eliminated from postseason contention despite beating the Buffalo Bills 24-10 at Sun Life Stadium.
Miami remains the state’s most recent NFL playoff team, having reached the postseason in 2008. Jacksonville and Tampa Bay last went to the playoffs in 2007.
The Buccaneers and Jaguars, having already been eliminated from playoff contention this year, both lost at home in Week 16.
The Buccaneers dropped their fifth straight game in losing to St. Louis 28-13.
The Jaguars stayed close against the New England Patriots but lost 23-16. It was Jacksonville’s 11th defeat in 12 games.
All three Florida teams are winding up their first years under head coaches. Miami’s Joe Philbin and Tampa Bay’s Greg Schiano appear to be making strides in their rebuilding projects, but Jacksonville’s Mike Mularkey’s job status figures to be in jeopardy due to a disastrous season and an impatient owner, Shad Khan, who officially took control earlier this year.
With one week left in the regular season, here’s a more in-depth look at Week 16 around the state:
Week in review
Dolphins 24, Bills 10: The Dolphins (7-8) entered the game with remote playoffs hopes and, despite the victory, were eliminated when Cincinnati beat Pittsburgh.
Reggie Bush scored three touchdowns, including his first two scoring receptions of the season, to help build a 24-3 lead.
Bush added 65 rushing yards as Miami ran for 182 yards and a 5.2 per-carry average.
Rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill continued his late-season effectiveness. He completed 13 of 25 passes for 130 yards and 2 touchdowns. He avoided throwing an interception for the fourth straight game.
The Dolphins went 7 for 14 on third downs and did not commit a turnover.
Miami safety Reshad Jones recovered two fumbles and intercepted Ryan Fitzpatrick’s pass at the Dolphins’ 1 with 71 seconds left.
Jacksonville had the ball inside the Patriots’ 26 seven times but managed just one touchdown and three field goals – 16 out of a potential 49 points.
Chad Henne completed 29 of 51 passes for 348 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. His 3-yard scoring pass to Justin Blackmon was Jacksonville’s first touchdown on its opening possession since Oct. 9, 2011, against Cincinnati.
Jacksonville receiver Cecil Shorts III and guard Uche Nwaneri both left the game with concussions.
As the largest home underdog (14 points) in team history, the Jaguars compiled 436 yards of offense, a season-high three sacks and intercepted Tom Brady twice. Game gallery >>
Rams 28, Buccaneers 13: Josh Freeman threw four interceptions and the Bucs (6-9) had five turnovers for the second week in a row.
The Bucs were stopped on downs twice inside the Rams’ 10-yard line.
Freeman (30 of 54 passing, one touchdown) threw for 372 yards as the Bucs outgained St. Louis 429-285.
Mike Williams had seven catches for 132 yards, including a 61-yard touchdown reception. Vincent Jackson had seven catches for 108 yards.
Doug Martin was held to 62 rushing yards on 18 carries.
Freeman has eight interceptions the past two games after having thrown three overall during the previous eight games. Game gallery >>
Star of the Week
Reggie Bush, Dolphins
Bush became the first Dolphins tailback since 2009 to score three touchdowns in a game.
The free-agent-to-be had scoring catches of 17 and 12 yards, and a 1-yard touchdown run. He finished with 107 all-purpose yards.
Goat of the Week
Josh Freeman, Buccaneers
Freeman threw four interceptions for the second straight week. The Rams turned three of his interceptions into 21 points.
Coincidentally, Freeman also set the team mark for most passing yards (3,843) in a season and tied the team record for most touchdown passes (26) in a season.
Miami coach Joe Philbin on his team being eliminated from playoff contention: “The NFL has a system in place: six teams earn a spot in the playoffs. It is what it is.”
Dolphins left tackle Jonathan Martin postgame: “We’re obviously very happy with the win, but it’s disappointing not to have a chance at the playoffs. Had we won a coupe of those close ones earlier in the season, we wouldn’t be in this position.”
Running back Reggie Bush on the Dolphins’ season: “I feel like we’re getting into a rhythm. I think we hit a low point midway through the season, where we were kind of struggling to run the ball, and I think that really hurt us.”
Jacksonville coach Mike Mularkey postgame: “Very, very, very, very, very proud of this football team. I’m glad to be a part of it, proud to be a part of it. Fifteenth game, they’re playing for respect. Every one of them showed up to win this game.”
Jaguars cornerback Rashean Mathis on his team often coming up short: “Those little things you point to at the end of the game and say, ‘Why didn’t we win?’ That’s the tale of our season.”
Defensive end Jeremy Mincey on the Jags: “I hate to say I’m proud of the guys after a loss, but I am. (New England) just did escape.”
Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman after his four-interception effort: “I’ve got to take the blame as the quarterback. Saints game, this game … not really the brand of football I want to play.”
Coach Greg Schiano on the Bucs’ five turnovers: “You just can’t turn the ball over. That’s what it comes down to in this league. People are too good. You turn it over, and it’s going to be awfully hard to win games.”
Bucs defensive end Michael Bennett on losing after a good week of practice: “It doesn’t matter what you do on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday; it’s all about Sunday. You’ve got to get everybody on the team to understand that. The games are won on Sunday.”
Defensive back Ronde Barber, 37, on whether Sunday’s loss was his last home game as a Buc: “I won’t even entertain those notions yet. That’s for me to do in the offseason. Week 16 of the season is no retrospective for me.”
Did You Know?
· Miami produced its first winning home record (5-3) since 2008.
· Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill has thrown for 5 touchdowns and no interceptions in his past five games. He has thrown 137 passes without a pick.
· Tannehill became the fifth Dolphins quarterback to throw for at least 3,000 yards in a season.
· Reggie Bush needs 40 yards to compile his second straight 1,000-yard rushing season. He’s trying join Larry Csonka (1971-73) and Ricky Williams (2002-03).
· Miami defensive end Cameron Wake had his career-high 15th sack.
· Before the game, Jags coach Mike Mularkey gave each Jaguars player a baseball bat with the words “Violent, Physical, Relentless” as motivational tools.
· Jacksonville scored points (one touchdown, one field goal) on its first two possessions for the first time this season.
· Jaguars safety Chris Prosinski had his first career interception and led the Jaguars with eight tackles.
· Jacksonville linebacker Daryl Smith made his season debut after missing 14 games with a groin injury.
· Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman has thrown for 3,843 yards, a Buccaneers single-season record.
· Vincent Jackson moved to second on the Bucs’ list for most single-season receiving yards. With 1,334 yards, he needs 89 in the season finale to top Mark Carrier’s franchise record of 1,422, set in 1989.
· Rookie Doug Martin has the second-most single-season rushing yards (1,312) in team history. James Wilder set the record with 1,544 yards in 1984.
· Tampa Bay has lost 14 of the past 15 games in which it lost the turnover battle.
Tweets of the Week
Wow people tweeting my name #ComeOnNow
— Rishard Matthews (@_RMatthews) December 23, 2012
Finally get a chance to sleep in and I’m wide awake
— George Selvie(@georgeselvie) December 24, 2012
Thanks for all the prayers and love!! I appreciate it, I’m doing fine. I love y’all! #Jagnation
— Cecil Shorts III (@CecilShortsIII) December 23, 2012
Looks like imma be alone for Christmas this year