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Spikes' Party Gives the Dolphins Punch : Interconference: Rookie running back gains 70 yards and helps set up two touchdowns in Miami's 24-14 victory over the Packers.

September 12, 1994|From Associated Press

MILWAUKEE — Rookie running back Irving Spikes has played against the Green Bay Packers twice in his fledgling career, and both times he made it look like his party.

Spikes, a free agent who made Miami's roster after an exceptional exhibition season performance against Green Bay, set up two first-half touchdowns that triggered the Dolphins' 24-14 victory over the Packers on Sunday.

Signed by Miami after being ignored on draft day, Spikes ran 13 times for 70 yards before leaving early in the fourth quarter with a twisted right knee.

"I just want to prove that I can run the ball," said Spikes, who added that his knee felt fine. "This means a lot to me. Hopefully, they'll have confidence in me to keep giving me the ball."

In the exhibition victory over the Packers, Spikes had three kickoff returns for 146 yards and ran for the winning touchdown. However, Spikes ran just once for five yards in Miami's season-opening, 39-35 victory over New England.

The Dolphins (2-0) scored on four of their first five possessions, including a pair of touchdown passes by Dan Marino, and boosted their regular season record against the Packers to 8-0.

Marino has beaten Green Bay (1-1) all five times he has faced them, but he said the job this time was easier with the 5-foot-8, 215-pound Spikes.

"He's small and elusive," Marino said. "He did a great job of accelerating through the holes. We wanted to get him into their secondary and he did a great job."

"Spikes seems like he always has a great game against us," Green Bay safety LeRoy Butler said.

Packer linebacker George Koonce agreed.

"We're still going to face a running back like Barry Sanders, and runners like that, so we can't let a little Spikes do that to us," he said.

With Miami ahead, 3-0, late in the first half, Spikes, who had the fourth-best rushing average in the nation (149.5) last year at Northeast Louisiana, gained 41 yards in three consecutive plays, setting up Marino's 3-yard touchdown pass to tight end Keith Jackson.

Marino, who shredded the Patriots for 473 yards and five touchdowns last week in his first regular-season appearance since undergoing surgery to repair a torn Achilles' tendon, completed 17 of 25 passes for 177 yards.

He executed a perfect play-action fake on fourth-and-one, finding Jackson alone in the left side of the end zone, to end a 12-play, 86-yard drive that made the score 10-0 with about five minutes left in the half.

After recovering a fumble near midfield, Spikes again put the Dolphins in position for a Marino touchdown pass.

On that drive, Spikes ran five times for 35 yards, and Terry Kirby dived for a first down on fourth-and-one at the Packers' six. On second-and-goal, Marino passed to a wide-open Keith Byars in the left flat for a touchdown with 27 seconds left before halftime. The reception marked the 105th consecutive game he has caught at least one pass.

Afterward, he said: "To be honest, I don't just want to be a return guy because I love to run the ball. I want to be the main guy on offense."

Kirby burst up the middle for a six-yard touchdown run to make the score, 24-0, midway through the third period.

Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre completed 31 of 51 passes for 362 yards, but much of that came on short yardage after Miami had the game well in hand. Green Bay ran just seven times. Green Bay didn't score until midway through the fourth quarter when Favre connected with Ed West and Sterling Sharpe on scoring plays.

Sharpe extended his team record by catching a pass in his 89th consecutive game.

"Flat? Yeah, that's a real good word," Packers coach Mike Holmgren said. "We weren't ready for whatever reason."

Chris Jacke missed a 46-yard field goal attempt in the first period, failing to tie Chester Marcol's club record of 120 career field goals.

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