Miami Gardens, Fla. — The Miami Dolphins are out of the Jim Harbaugh Sweepstakes.
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross stood on the sideline at the end of Sunday’s wild victory sharing a laugh with those around him, his mind made up regarding the direction of the franchise.
He’s keeping his coach.
The Dolphins will sit out the playoffs for the sixth year in a row despite Sunday’s 37-35 victory over Minnesota, but afterward Ross, a Michigan graduate, announced Joe Philbin will return for a fourth season as coach.
“We’re building something great here,” Ross said in the locker room. “He’s the right guy. … I believe in this team. I believe in the coach.”
Ross said his decision wasn’t based on what happened Sunday, but the win certainly helped the Dolphins’ mood after dismal back-to-back losses spoiled their playoff hopes.
Rookie Terrence Fede blocked a punt for a safety with 41 seconds left, and Ryan Tannehill threw four touchdown passes, the most by a Dolphins quarterback since Dan Marino in 1998. Miami outscored the Vikings 23-18 in a bizarre fourth quarter.
Both teams went into the game playing for pride rather than a postseason berth. The Dolphins improved to 8-7 and have a shot at their first winning season since 2008.
Philbin has a year left on his contract and a career record of 23-24.
“I want to compete for championships while I’m the head coach of the Miami Dolphins,” Philbin said. “It’s disappointing we’re not in it.”
Players said they were pleased to learn Philbin will be back in 2015.
“That’s exciting news for me, and I think everyone on the team,” Tannehill said. “We believe in coach Philbin and the program he has and everything he has set in place.”
The Vikings, who have been out of the playoff race since Thanksgiving, fell to 6-9 under first-year coach Mike Zimmer. They blew a 14-point lead to lose for the second week in a row.
“We made too many mistakes and penalties in crucial situations,” Zimmer said. “All of the things I’ve been trying to preach for 11 months, we didn’t do today.”
Tannehill went 35 for 47 for 396 yards, and directed an offense that totaled 36 first downs and 493 yards. He shook off a costly interception and two sacks and was knocked down at least eight other times.
Mike Wallace caught touchdown passes of 16 and 7 yards and has 10 scores this year.
Vikings rookie Teddy Bridgewater, playing in his hometown, was efficient but not as prolific as Tannehill. He went 19 for 25 for 259 yards and two scores, and said he’s braced for teasing from friends and family about the outcome.
“I’m pretty sure I won’t hear the end of it in the offseason,” he said. “We just made too many mistakes.”