MIAMI — It wasn't exactly vintage Miami Dolphins, but it was enough against the Houston Oilers.
Dan Marino passed for four touchdowns Sunday, and the Dolphins moved within a game of .500 with a 28-7 victory over the Oilers, who lost their eighth straight game.
"We weren't able to get things done early, but it's tough to keep a guy like Dan down," Miami Coach Don Shula said. "We still have a lot of work to do before we start talking about any long streaks. We need to keep improving."
The Dolphins (4-5) have beaten four teams, who have a combined record of 3-24. In fact, two of Miami's victories have come against winless Indianapolis.
"I think we are headed in the right direction," said Dolphins fullback Ron Davenport, who gained 74 yards in 16 carries. "Everybody says we beat lesser teams, but those teams are professionals. . . . We just have to play better against every team."
Despite his four touchdowns, Marino struggled against the Houston pass defense, completing 12 of 29 passes for 220 yards, with 2 interceptions.
Marino connected with Mark Duper on an 85-yard scoring pass play in the third quarter. He also had touchdown tosses of 38 yards to Nat Moore, 3 yards to Tony Nathan and 8 yards to Mark Clayton.
Marino started slowly, hitting 1 of 7 first-quarter passes for 3 yards.
"I didn't think we played well, but you've got to look at the way they play defense and keep plugging away," Marino said. "They play good defense, but we were able to move the ball on them. We just have to keep working to turn it around. We still have a chance for the playoffs."
Houston (1-8) scored on a one-yard run by Mike Rozier with 12:46 to play.
Oiler wide receiver Ernest Givins was carried off the field on a stretcher after being hit by safety Bud Brown and was diagnosed as having a neck injury. He did have movement in his arms and legs.
The Oilers replaced starting quarterback Warren Moon with Oliver Luck in the second half. Moon was 5 of 8 for 45 yards and an interception. Luck finished 9 of 19 for 119 yards and an interception.
Moon injured his foot in the first half, but said he could have played.
"It was my decision to put in Luck and see if he could move the ball, especially since Warren had hurt his foot," Houston Coach Jerry Glanville said. "It wasn't all Moon's fault. We didn't get good protection on the times we threw."
The crowd of 43,804 was the smallest to watch the Dolphins in the Orange Bowl since 41,854 watched the New York Jets defeat Miami, 24-17, in the final game of the 1980 season, the last year Miami did not make the playoffs.