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PRO FOOTBALL : Jets Hope They Don't Meet Dolphins on the Rebound

December 07, 1987| Associated Press

MIAMI — New York Jet Coach Joe Walton knows his team is playing the up-and-down Miami Dolphins at the wrong time.

In its last three games, Miami has lost to Indianapolis, 40-21, defeated Dallas, 20-14, and lost at Buffalo, 27-0. That means the Dolphins should be up when they play the Jets in Miami tonight (Channels 7 and 10).

"They scare me," Walton said. "The Dolphins probably got their bad game out of their system against Buffalo."

The Jets (6-5) were tied for first place in the AFC East race entering the weekend's action. The Dolphins (5-6 and 1-5 in intra-division games) were tied for last.

"They're very dangerous," Walton said. "They have a great quarterback and the greatest coach in the business."

The quarterback, Dan Marino, and the coach, Don Shula, admitted they had a bad day at Buffalo.

"I've been somewhat inconsistent the past couple of weeks," Marino said. "I guess you could say it might be a slump."

Marino, the NFL's all-time leading passer, dropped from first to sixth in this season's rankings after the Buffalo game. He failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time in 31 games but said his confidence is unshaken.

"You just have to forget about what's happened. You have to go out and get back to what we've been doing well, and that's throw the football."

At times, Marino has been as good as ever, throwing 18 touchdown passes. He's been betrayed by dropped passes and poor protection, and Miami had only 23 yards rushing at Buffalo. The Dolphins are 27th out of 28 NFL teams in defense.

Shula said he's done a poor job of motivating his team.

"The last two years we haven't been able to win the games we need to win to move in the direction I want to go," he said.

New York has won three of its last four games to generate some momentum for the last month of the season. But running back Freeman McNeil, who has rushed for 529 yards, said the Jets' season has been similar to the Dolphins'.

"Neither one of us has been consistent," McNeil said. "The records show that. It comes down to the team that wants it the most taking advantage of these games remaining."

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