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Dolphins Try To Keep Slim Playoff Hopes Alive Against Minnesota

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MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – Another up-and-down Miami Dolphins season is heading towards a familiar ending.

Even if the Dolphins can turn things around in the final two weeks of the season, that might not be enough to save Joe Philbin's job.

The Dolphins and their embattled coach look to avoid a third straight defeat when they host the pesky Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

Miami (7-7) appeared to be in decent shape to end its five-year playoff drought while sitting at 5-3 at the halfway mark. The second half of the season hasn't gone nearly as well, and the Dolphins have been outscored 69-26 in the last two weeks.

A 41-13 loss at New England last Sunday further fueled speculation that Philbin will be fired after the season. He met with owner Stephen Ross following the game and the two expect to talk more this week.

"Players were disappointed. Coaches are disappointed. Owners are disappointed," said Philbin, 22-24 in three seasons with the Dolphins. "I think that's understandable."

Naturally, Philbin would rather focus on the present and not his future.

"Right now what's relevant is getting our team to play up to their potential for 60 minutes against the Minnesota Vikings," he said. "That's really all that is important to me right now."

Though Philbin's days in South Florida might be numbered, his team still has a chance to make the postseason. Miami must win Sunday and at home against the lowly New York Jets, plus receive plenty of help to get in.

"I believe in the players. I have confidence in the players," Philbin said. "We have an outstanding locker room. Our staff has an excellent working relationship with the players. It's a mutual thing."

What isn't close to excellent is an offense that hasn't scored more than 16 points and been held to 213 rushing yards in the last three contests. Ryan Tannehill has thrown two touchdowns and three interceptions in those three gamesand been sacked 10 times in the last two.

Jarvis Landry has been one of Miami's few recent offensive bright spots and continued his strong rookie season with eight catches for 99 yards against the Patriots. Landry leads the Dolphins with 71 receptions and is second with 672 yards and five receiving touchdowns.

"He has so many of the qualities - the toughness, the hands, the instincts - that some of the great receivers have," assistant wide receivers coach Phil McGeoghan told the team's official website. "But at the same time, he's still very unique."

Miami has forced only five turnovers in six games and recorded six sacks in the last five. The Dolphins gave up 661 rushing yards at 5.8 per carry in three games before yielding 108 and 3.7 against New England.

The Patriots, however, went 8 of 13 on third down. Miami's last five opponents have converted 51.5 percent (35 of 68) of their third-down chances.

"Part of my job is to get the team to play up to their potential each and every week," Philbin said. "So to that degree, certainly I feel like we could do better."

Doing so might be difficult against a Minnesota team that held Detroit to a season-low 233 yards in a 16-14 loss last Sunday.

The Vikings (6-8) have made strides under first-year coach Mike Zimmer, but falling short of a third straight victory last weekend left them frustrated after Blair Walsh missed three field goals and two Teddy Bridgewater interceptions led to 10 Lions points.

"Bottom line is we want to be a playoff team," defensive end Brian Robison said. "We want to be one of those teams in the race or leading the division. When we play a team like (Detroit) we know that's the type of ball that we can play."

Bridgewater has completed 73.0 percent of his passes in the last three contests and thrown for at least 300 yards in each of the last two. He's recorded a TD pass in eight straight games but has three picks in the past two.

"The good thing is Teddy is getting a lot of these experiences," Zimmer said. "The on-the-job training he's getting I really believe will bode well for him in the future and for us as an organization and as a team."

Fellow rookie Charles Johnson has become one of Bridgewater's favorite targets while catching 20 passes for 355 yards and two TDs in the last five games.

Matt Asiata managed 36 yards on 11 carries against the Lions, but ran for a score and recorded career highs with seven receptions for 50 yards.

The Vikings lost 14-10 at home in the most recent meeting with the Dolphins on Sept. 19, 2010.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)



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