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Marino Not Ready for a Lesser Role

September 08, 1997|From Associated Press

MIAMI — The Tennessee Oilers would have preferred to see Dan Marino on the bench.

Miami Coach Jimmy Johnson considered benching Marino because of a bad performance last weekend, but the Dolphin quarterback wound up earning a game ball from his coach Sunday.

Following a week of criticism by fans, the media and Johnson, Marino rallied the Dolphins past the Oilers, 16-13, in overtime.

"He came out and figured he had something to prove," Oiler defensive end Kenny Holmes said, "and he proved it."

Marino threw for 324 yards and helped Miami overcome a 13-6 fourth-quarter deficit. Irving Spikes returned the overtime kickoff 48 yards, and Olindo Mare's 29-yard field goal with 12:45 remaining won it.

Miami is 2-0 for the fourth consecutive season.

Tennessee (1-1) missed a chance to win in regulation when Al Del Greco's 43-yard field-goal attempt on second down with 11 seconds left sailed wide right. Del Greco had made his five previous field-goal attempts this season, including a 33-yarder that beat Oakland in overtime last weekend.

Marino rallied Miami from a fourth-quarter deficit to victory for the 33rd time in his 15-year career. Although he still doesn't have a touchdown pass this season, he surpassed the 300-yard mark for the first time under Johnson, completing 24 of 43 passes.

"I don't care if I throw for 400 yards or 100," Marino said. "I threw the ball like I normally throw it. It just so happens that we hit some plays."

Marino, the most prolific passer in NFL history, was coming off a 105-yard game, his lowest total since 1989. The performance prompted Johnson to say he considered benching Marino, and that comment sparked considerable fan and media debate.

"Dan responded to a difficult week," Johnson said. "If physically he is not at the top of his game, I don't mind putting Craig Erickson in. But Dan is our starting quarterback. He's going to be in the Hall of Fame, and he's still playing great football."

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