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Fiedler Makes Wannstedt Look Decisively Smart

September 04, 2000|From Associated Press

MIAMI — Jay Fiedler silenced Dan Marino and the other second-guessers for at least a week.

Fiedler, the controversial choice to succeed Marino, turned in a steady performance and had plenty of help from his running game and defense Sunday as the Miami Dolphins beat the Seattle Seahawks, 23-0.

The opener was the Dolphins' first without Marino since 1983.

First-year Coach Dave Wannstedt was the target of second-guessing when he chose Fiedler to start over last year's backup, Damon Huard. Even Marino questioned the decision on a television show.

"Marino had to have an opinion--everyone is entitled to one," said Fiedler, who completed 15 of 24 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown with no turnovers. "I just went out there and proved I was the right guy."

Another newcomer, journeyman Lamar Smith, sparked the Dolphin running game with 145 yards and a touchdown.

The Seahawks, who committed six turnovers, were shut out for the first time since a 19-0 loss to the Los Angeles Raiders on Oct. 18, 1992.

While the Dolphin quarterback controversy faded, the debate is just beginning in Seattle. Jon Kitna had four passes intercepted and lost a fumble before being replaced early in the third quarter by Damon Huard's brother, Brock.

"Today wasn't a great showing, but I'll bounce back," said Kitna, who completed six of 13 passes for 54 yards. "I know I can lead this team.

"I know I can be the guy."

While Kitna committed turnovers on the Seahawks' first four possessions, Fiedler looked comfortable from the outset in his first game with his fifth NFL team.

The Dolphins scored on their first four possessions. By halftime, when Miami led 23-0, Fiedler had completed 12 of 18 passes for 129 yards. Two passes were dropped.

"As far as the decision, this just reinforces why he's starting," Wannstedt said. "He was very efficient, and he played smart."

The smartest thing Fiedler did was hand the ball to Smith, who twice was released by NFL teams, but beat out incumbent J.J. Johnson for a starting job.

Smith carried 27 times and repeatedly took advantage of rookie right tackle Todd Wade's blocks.

Olindo Mare, who set an NFL record last season with 39 field goals, converted attempts from 48, 25 and 30 yards.

Sam Madison intercepted two passes by Kitna, Kenny Mixon knocked off Ricky Watters' helmet with a tackle, and Seattle never reached the Dolphin 30.

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