INDIANAPOLIS — Defense has been almost non-existent for the Miami Dolphins this season, but for once the defenders carried the day.
Linebacker John Offerdahl tackled Owen Gill of Indianapolis two yards short of a first down and 14 yards short of the goal line with 33 seconds left Sunday to ensure a 17-13 victory over the winless Colts.
It was the Dolphins' 13th straight win over the Colts, the longest current string of this kind in the league.
"Letting this slip away would have been a real heartbreaker," Miami Coach Don Shula said. "It was a very important win for us.
"We had a lot of errors. But hopefully, with this win we can swing things around and get the monkey off our back."
Miami (3-5) took a 17-7 lead early in the game but had to hang on at the finish after two Colt field goals had narrowed the gap to four points. Dolphin punter Reggie Roby fumbled, and Indianapolis (0-8) took over at the Miami 45 with 3:37 left.
The Colts' drive was kept alive by one inch on a fourth-down run by George Wonsley to the Miami 22. Three incomplete passes later, again on fourth down, Gill took a short pass from Jack Trudeau but was brought up short by Offerdahl. The Dolphins then ran out the clock.
"We took the short pass (to Gill), hoping to get the first down," Indianapolis Coach Rod Dowhower said.
Miami's Dan Marino, who completed only 12 of 28 passes in the first half, gave the Dolphins their winning margin with a seven-yard touchdown pass to Mark Duper midway through the second quarter. Marino finished with 23 of 42 for 243 yards and threw a scoring pass for the 15th straight game.
The Dolphins took a 7-0 lead on Lorenzo Hampton's 1-yard run, but the Colts tied it on a 14-yard scoring run by Randy McMillan after Wonsley got the drive going with a 46-yard burst.
Fuad Reveiz kicked a 29-yard field goal for Miami.
Dean Biasucci's 39-yard field goal brought the Colts within 17-10 at halftime, and his 45-yard field goal accounted for the only scoring in the second half.