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Dolphins Get a Foothold in Opener

September 01, 1997|From Associated Press

MIAMI — An emergency punter rescued Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins.

Olindo Mare, in his first NFL game, pinned Indianapolis deep in its territory twice with his punting and kicked three field goals Sunday to help the Dolphins defeat the Colts, 16-10.

Marino passed for only 105 yards, his worst effort in a full game since 1989, and Colt linebacker Elijah Alexander returned an interception 43 yards for a touchdown.

Miami gained only 202 yards and won because of its defense and special teams. Safety Shawn Wooden came up with three turnovers, including two after punts by Mare forced the Colts to start drives inside their five-yard line. Mare was pressed into double kicking duty after Miami punter John Kidd strained his right hamstring.

"It feels good to help our team," said Mare, who had not punted since high school. "I didn't expect it to be anything like this. It just happened."

The Colts recovered an onside kick with 56 seconds left, but were out of timeouts, and the game ended on backup quarterback Paul Justin's 20-yard completion to Aaron Bailey at the Miami 25.

Marino, playing in his 200th game at the start of his 15th season, completed only 10 of 26 passes with no touchdowns.

"I struggled all day," he said. "I missed some throws we should have had. We normally don't miss them."

Indianapolis starter Jim Harbaugh fared even worse, completing 14 of 29 passes for 109 yards before leaving the game because of fatigue with 3 1/2 minutes left.

"After the last series, I couldn't even raise my arms anymore," Harbaugh said. "I was hurting the team. I gave it all I had until I didn't have it anymore."

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