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Dolphins' Defense Is Second to None

September 25, 2000|From Associated Press

Miami became the first team in NFL history to give up only one touchdown in its first four games, holding the Patriots to 210 yards and a field goal in a 10-3 victory Sunday.

"The scary thing is we can still play better," defensive end Kenny Mixon said.

Miami (3-1) sacked Drew Bledsoe twice and held him to 16 of 33 passing for 161 yards. New England's running game had even less success, with Kevin Faulk carrying 21 times for 46 yards.

Still, New England (0-4) had a chance to tie the score in the closing minutes.

On fourth and two from the Miami five with a little more than a minute to play, Bledsoe's pass intended for Eric Bjornson sailed through the end zone.

It was the fourth time in as many games that the Patriots had a chance to tie or win the game on their final possession.

"We're in a very difficult situation," Bledsoe said. "We're faced now with doing one of two things. We can come back and battle and compete and try to win as many games as we can or we can pack it in and fold our tent. Anyone who knows me, knows which way I'm going, and I'm planning on taking as many guys with me as I can."

Miami, which had three turnovers in the first three games, committed three against New England.

Jay Fiedler was inconsistent, throwing a touchdown pass and two interceptions. Lamar Smith was ineffective, running 20 times for 42 yards. The Dolphins made only one big play--Fiedler's 53-yard scoring pass to Bert Emanuel.

But that was enough for Miami's defense.

"We didn't look as sharp as we could have," the Dolphins' Thurman Thomas said. "As an offense, we feel guilty that we're not helping those guys. We'd love to be giving them 21 or 24 points a game. It's just not working. But it'll come around."

Miami has given up only 22 points, the first team to give up that few points since the Atlanta Falcons gave up 19 in their first four games of the 1977 season.

The Dolphins have surrendered 22 points in victories against Seattle (23-0), Baltimore (19-6) and New England (10-3) and a loss to Minnesota (13-7).

"We've got to do it again next week," safety Brock Marion said. "Our plan every week is to create turnovers, keep their offense out of the end zone and even off the field."

The defense did. But the offense didn't fair much better.

Fiedler completed 12 of 24 passes for 153 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

Fiedler's first interception set up New England's only score.

About to be sacked by Bobby Hamilton, Fiedler tried to flip the ball to Smith. But Fiedler didn't get it over the defensive line, and Henry Thomas intercepted and returned it 16 yards.

New England then used a 12-play drive to set up Adam Vinatieri's 40-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.

Fielder and the Dolphins rebounded, though. Fiedler connected with Emanuel for the 53-yard scoring play.

"I was determined to get in," Emanuel said. "I didn't want anyone else scoring my touchdown."

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