More problems for Miami than dubious call
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- It would have sounded better had Joe Philbin claimed to have known some statistics.
Instead, Philbin said, "I don't know that there's a statistic necessarily. None that I'm aware of."
If the Miami Dolphins coach were to have Googled "Icing the kicker," he would have found a 500-plus word entry on Wikipedia. Yes, there are people who really have thoroughly researched the subject.
The entry mentions two statistical studies. One, with NFL field goals studied in 2002 and 2003, determined that kickers miss 10 percent more when iced for an attempt of more than 40 yards, but there is little difference on kicks less than 40 yards. Another study, using kicks between 1991 and 2005, determined iced kickers actually made an overall percentage slightly higher (72 to 71.7 percent) than non-iced kickers.
Considering it was a 33-yard attempt by New York Jets kicker Nick Folk, perhaps there was nothing in favor of icing Folk on Sunday at Sun Life Stadium. Folk drilled the kick with 6:04 left in overtime to give the Jets a 23-20 victory. It came after Philbin had called a timeout just before a previous kick by Folk, and it was blocked by Miami defensive tackle Randy Starks.
It's unclear whether icing stats are any different when a coach stands next to an official and calls timeout just before the ball is snapped, which is what Philbin did. Then again, that strategy hasn't worked out too well for foes when the kicker is Folk.
In 2007, when Folk was with Dallas, Buffalo coach Dick Jauron tried it in the waning seconds. Folk made his first attempt, a 53-yarder, but it didn't count. Then Folk came right back and made his next try for a 25-24 win.
In 2008, Folk had a last-second kick in regulation blocked. But Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt had called timeout just before the play, giving Folk another chance. He made a 52-yarder to tie the score 24-24, but the Cowboys eventually lost 30-24 in overtime.
"I'd rather kick it than sit there and not kick it," Folk said after Sunday's game. "I got another warm-up kick."
Nevertheless, Philbin had no regrets.
"I thought it was the right call," he said. "I was planning it all along, to call timeout right before he kicked the ball. I really had no reaction whatsoever on (the first kick being blocked). I knew that was the plan, that was the thing to do."
Philbin might not have had any stats to reel off. But if one looks at statistics, the game shouldn't even have gotten to that point.
Dolphins kicker Dan Carpenter entered Sunday having made 28-of-31 field goals inside 50 yards since the start of last season. But Carpenter botched one from 47 yards with 10:48 left in the game that could have given the Dolphins a 20-13 lead. Then, with 7:53 remaining in overtime, Carpenter hooked one wide left that could have given Miami the win.
"They were makeable," Carpenter said. "I mean, I let the team down. First of all, there should haven't have been an overtime. We should never even have been there. The team is busting their (butt), and I just didn't come through."
No, Carpenter didn't. But credit him for accepting responsibility.
Some questioned after the game whether Philbin should have been more overzealous about trying to get Carpenter closer in overtime after the Dolphins had first-and-10 at the Jets 35. They had two running plays sandwiched around a deep throw.
But even though Carpenter had missed the earlier field goal, who would have thought he would miss another? A 48-yarder is a chip shot for the five-year man. Miami wide receiver Davone Bess said he was thinking "automatic" when Carpenter lined up for the winning kick.
"We were licking our chops," Bess said of believing the Dolphins were about to win. "It's distressful (they didn't)."
Now, the Dolphins (1-2) must be careful a loss like this doesn't wreck their season. A win would have been huge, giving them a tie for place in the AFC East. Instead, it's the Jets (2-1) in that spot.
"We talked about the fact it may be OK," linebacker Kevin Burnett said of the tough defeat. "But we don't want to have too many more OKs."
After all, there were some positives for the Dolphins. Despite rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill completing just 16 of 36 passes for 196 yards with an interception, Tannehill did gain valuable experience playing in a tight NFL game for the first time.
Tannehill led Miami on a late drive, which ended with Carpenter tying the score 20-20 on a 41-yard field goal with 21 seconds left in regulation. And Tannehill put the Dolphins in position to win in overtime, the big play a 35-yard pass to Brian Hartline that got them to the Jets 35.
The Dolphins also showed solid depth in their running game after Reggie Bush hurt his left knee late in the first half and didn't return. Although Bush was listed at halftime as questionable to be back and several teammates said after the game they didn't believe his injury was too serious, the Dolphins said little after the game about Bush.
Bush left with 10 carries for 61 yards. But Miami backups Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller did get 69 and 48 yards, respectively.
In the end, though, there was a feeling the Dolphins let the Jets off the hook. New York quarterback Mark Sanchez might have thrown for 306 yards but was mediocre while completing 21 of 45 passes with two interceptions.
Backup Tim Tebow did little with the exception of running 5 yards for a first down on a second-quarter fake punt. Tebow's other big moment was being shown on the Sun Life "Kiss Cam" while he was standing alongside wide receiver Clyde Gates, a former Dolphin. No, nothing happened.
Miami also couldn't fully take advantage of star Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis leaving for good late in the third quarter due to a knee injury.
"It's frustrating," Tannehill said of the loss. "I think we left some plays out there."
If Carpenter had made the overtime field goal, it wouldn't have mattered. And perhaps if Philbin hadn't called timeout before Folk's initial overtime attempt, maybe the Dolphins still would have pulled it out.
Then again, leave it to Folk to say his offensive linemen might not have been going all out on the kick Starks blocked.
"I could hear the whistle blown," Folk said. "I like to get one in. So I tell Tanner (Purdum, the long snapper) all the time, even if it's late, to go and ahead and snap the ball and we'll put it down and kick it. I think part of it, too, was our guys heard the whistle, so they stopped what they were doing."
Regardless, when it comes to icing Folk with a last-ditch timeout, it hasn't ended up turning out well for opponents. Perhaps those were the statistics Philbin should have known about.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson