Dolphins coach Joe Philbin admitted it will be a big challenge to get his team motivated for the season finale Sunday at New England.
With the Dolphins eliminated from playoff contention and nothing to play for against the defending AFC champion but a .500 record, the Dolphins (7-8) will need one of their best efforts of the season in a game that means little.
“You should have been at the team meeting,” Philbin said. “When I signed on to coach the 2012 Miami Dolphins I knew there were 16 regular-season games to be coached, and I have to have the same focus and our staff has to have the same focus and same sense of urgency when we opened the season in Houston. There shouldn't be guys talking about what I'm doing New Year's Eve and what I'm doing for this, that and the other thing because, obviously, we know the task at hand is a large one.”
The game also gets a little added attention nationally as it was flexed to a later 4:25 p.m. ET kickoff on CBS.
Still, Philbin said the team's focus must be on perfect execution, not trying to keep the AFC East rival Patriots from earning a potential first-round bye.
“That's too much for me to handle,” Philbin said. “We're going to have enough to play well and defeat the New England Patriots, not derail (something) that's beyond our control anyway. We're focused on playing as well as we possibly can.”
Run Reggie: Dolphins RB Reggie Bush said he's focused on playing the New England Patriots on Sunday, not becoming only the third back in team history to rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons.
“Well, I think it's good company to be in,” Bush said. “Ricky Williams was a great running back and Larry Csonka's obviously a great running back, too. That's good company to be in, and I think it's even better company that Ricky Williams is from my neighborhood.”
Bush has run for 960 yards and six touchdowns on 219 carries. The former Southern Cal star had 107 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns last week against Buffalo.
“It would be great if we were playing for a playoff spot,” Bush said, “but I think everybody knows that we still have a job to do even though we're not going to the playoffs.”
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Kicking woes: Philbin isn't blaming K Nate Kaeding for a blocked field goal in the first half of a win over the Bills last week.
Kaeding, who was signed last week after K Dan Carpenter was put on IR with a groin injury, had his first attempt as a Dolphin blocked before connecting on a 45-yarder in the victory. The former Iowa standout was 7 of 7 on field goals this season with San Diego before being cut after an injury forced him to miss several weeks.
“A guy was three or four yards in the backfield and knocked the ball down,” Philbin said. “When he walked off the field I said, ‘we usually protect a little better than that.'"
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