Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 10/14/12
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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Score this one for Mr. Second Choice. When the Miami Dolphins went looking for a coach after last season, Jeff Fisher was tops on their list. But Fisher spurned the Fish and went to St. Louis. He returned to Dolphins turf Sunday for the first time since his interview last January. And what happened? Fisher, a guy coaching his 268th NFL regular-season game, was outcoached by the guy brought in by the Dolphins when he turned them down. That would be Joe Philbin, in charge for his sixth regular-season game. Miami won 17-14 at Sun Life Stadium after Fisher strangely decided to go for a 66-yard field goal on the final play of the game that concluded a frantic drive. But it wouldn't have been so frantic had not the normally conservative Philbin completely fooled Fisher's gang with a fake punt that on the previous possession ran valuable time off the clock. Back in a moment to the fake punt, which came with 4:15 left and enabled to the Dolphins to run more than 2 more minutes before the Rams got the ball back with 1:41 remaining at their own 3. Trailing 17-14, they did make their way to a second-and-4 at the Dolphins 45 with 42 seconds left. Two plays resulted in a pass for no gain and a three-yard sack on quarterback Sam Bradford by Olivier Vernon. But there were still 30 seconds left and the Rams had one timeout left while facing fourth-and-7 at the Miami 48. The obvious move would have been to use the timeout immediately to stop the clock and then try to get the first down. If they were successful, the Rams would have had time for a few more plays and for a much more manageable field-goal attempt. But to the surprise of many Miami players, Fisher ran the clock down to four seconds, called timeout and trotted rookie Greg Zuerlein out for an NFL-record attempt. "I actually thought they were going to go for it on fourth down," Vernon said. "I didn't think they would try a field goal. It surprised me That's crazy, man We knew the wind played a lot in our favor We knew they were playing all those games pretty much in (domed) stadiums (four of their first five). We knew they weren't used to the environment of kicking in the wind." Vernon is a rookie and he had the situation sized up much better than Fisher, an 18-year head coaching veteran. Zuerlein did have the distance but the kick was well wide to the left. "The odds of Greg making that kick from that distance I thought were much (better) than us making that fourth down," Fisher said. Wait a minute. How many fourth-and-7 plays have been converted in NFL history? No doubt hundreds. How many 66-yard field goals have there been? Zero. "That's good for us," Dolphins defensive back Chris Clemons said when asked about the odds of Zuerlein making a field goal from three yards longer than the NFL record. Clemons also knows something about odds when it comes to making a yard. He was the guy who took a direct snap from center when the Dolphins faked a punt on fourth-and-1 at their own 40 with 4:15 left and up 17-14. Clemons ran three yards up the middle for a first down. That kept the clock moving, preventing the Rams from having plenty of time during their final drive. "That's on me," said Fisher, admitting the Dolphins (3-3) got him on that one. "I didn't think that they would do that or I would have left the defense out there. That was a great play." Philbin was well aware of the Rams' tendencies on punt coverage. So he had given Clemons the green light to call the play. "Darren (Rizzi, special teams coordinator) and Dave (Fipp, assistant special teams coach) said all week that it was going to be there," said Philbin, whose Dolphins won Sunday despite being outgained 462 yards to 192. "We kind of needed a play We didn't have a whole lot of rhythm on offense. We felt like if it was there, let's take advantage of it." Interestingly, Clemons said the look the Rams (3-3) provided should have resulted in him checking off the play. But it decided what the heck and went for anyway. "(Philbin) has confidence in us and we got confidence in him." Clemons said of his coach having presented him with the option. Philbin is known as a pretty conservative guy. Dolphins wide receiver Marlon Moore said that image might have worked in Miami's favor when it came to the fake. "I would say he's pretty conservative but he's also aggressive when he needs to be," Moore said. "To them, they just thought we were going to punt it away and we capitalized on it." That wasn't the only surprise Philbin threw at the Rams. He dusted off Moore as a key receiver after the third-year man hadn't caught a pass since his rookie year of 2010 season. And he only had six that season. But Moore grabbed three balls for 46 yards, including a 29-yard touchdown from Ryan Tannehill in the second quarter that gave the Dolphins the lead for good at 7-6. Tannehill, who completed 21-of-29 passes for 185 yards, also threw a 1-yard TD pass to Anthony Fasano for a 17-6 third-quarter lead. Overall, there wasn't much offense from the Dolphins. But the Rams ended up wasting a 315-yard passing day by Bradford. One reason is that Zuerlein, who had made two field goals in the first quarter to make him 15-of-15 on the season, ended up missing his final three attempts. He had misfired from 52 and 37 yards before Fisher sent him out for that crazy final 66-yard attempt. "I can make that kick," Zuerlein said. Nevertheless, still nobody in the 93-year history of the NFL has made that kick. So score it Philbin 1, Fisher 0. Chris Tomasson can be reached at christomasson@hotmail.com or on Twitter @christomasson
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