Sports

Dolphins players, assistant coaches credit Philbin in turnaround after bullying scandal

  • Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin, right, talks with officials during the first half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Don Wright)

    Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin, right, talks with officials during the first half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Don Wright)  (The Associated Press)

  • Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin looks at the scoreboard during the second half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Don Wright)

    Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin looks at the scoreboard during the second half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Don Wright)  (The Associated Press)

Miami Dolphins coach Joe Philbin maps out his team's hourly schedule months in advance and reads postgame locker-room speeches from index cards.

He prefers working from a script. But when this season strayed from the planned outline, and a bullying scandal accelerated the team's tailspin, Philbin responded with steady leadership that has won praise from his players and assistants — and kept Miami in the playoff race.

Given the Dolphins' disarray six week ago, it's remarkable they're 7-6 and in contention for the AFC's final wild-card berth heading into their game Sunday against New England.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick credits Philbin for steady improvement by Miami despite the scandal.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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