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More Williams Is Better for the Dolphins

October 07, 2002|Houston Mitchell

Ricky Williams is sure of this: A team's winning percentage increases with the number of rushing attempts, and the Miami Dolphins have a victory to prove it.

Williams ran 36 times for 105 yards in Miami's 26-13 win over New England on Sunday, setting a franchise record for attempts in a game and leaving him one 100-yard game shy of tying the single-season mark.

He did it despite a Patriot defense designed to shut him down.

"Whenever you play a Bill Belichick-coached team, you know they're going to punch you in the mouth," center Tim Ruddy said. "They stacked the line a lot on us, but we knew the running game had to be successful for us to win."

And it was.

Williams carried 15 times for 49 yards in the first half, then got a much-tougher 56 yards in 21 attempts in the second half--running when Miami had a 23-6 lead and when New England knew it was coming.

"It's not always being able to get the yards," Williams said. "When you run the ball, it is also taking time off the clock."

It was something they weren't able to do last week against Kansas City. The Chiefs are the only team to hold Williams under 100 yards this season. The Dolphins were behind most of that game, and they passed to try to move the ball faster and save the clock.

This game was completely different. Williams was a factor throughout.

"We're never going to give up on the running game," Ruddy said. "As the game went on, we were able to figure out what they were doing and had some success with the basic stuff."

Williams' only mistake was his second fumble in as many games--a problem that plagued him in New Orleans. He fumbled on the opening drive of the second half, and the Patriots turned it into a touchdown to cut the lead to 16-6.

His fourth 100-yard game of the season left him one shy of Delvin Williams' team record, set in 1978. His 36 carries broke Karim Abdul-Jabbar's regular-season record of 33 attempts set in 1998, but they were four shy of Lamar Smith's record set in the playoffs in 2000.

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Emmitt Smith of the Dallas Cowboys ran for 70 yards against the New York Giants, putting him within 234 yards of breaking the NFL career rushing record held by Walter Payton.

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Sunday's key injuries:

* Atlanta might be without quarterback Michael Vick after he sprained his right shoulder. Vick injured his non-throwing shoulder when he was sacked by Simeon Rice. X-rays were negative.

* The Raiders lost leading rusher Charlie Garner early in the fourth quarter. Garner, who ran for 94 yards, strained his left hamstring after scoring on a 69-yard pass play.

* Washington starting quarterback Danny Wuerffel injured his throwing shoulder. Wuerffel gave way to rookie Patrick Ramsey.

* Saints' linebacker Travis Carroll broke his right leg in New Orleans' victory.

* San Francisco lost receiver J.J. Stokes, who sprained his right knee in the second quarter.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

*--* Bests of the Day PASSING Att Cmp Yds TD DREW BLEDSOE, Bills 53 32 417 2 RICH GANNON, Raiders 38 23 357 3 BRIAN GRIESE, Broncos 35 26 309 2 TRENT GREEN, Chiefs 33 23 296 1 TOMMY MADDOX, Steelers 38 22 268 3 PATRICK RAMSEY, Redskins 34 20 268 2

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*--* RUSHING Att Yards Avg TD JAMAL LEWIS, Ravens 26 187 7.2 0 COREY DILLON, Bengals 23 164 7.1 2 PRIEST HOLMES, Chiefs 23 152 6.6 1 DEUCE McALLISTER, Saints 23 123 5.3 2 CURTIS MARTIN, Jets 21 119 5.7 1 GARRISON HEARST, 49ers 13 116 8.9 1

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*--* RECEIVING No Yards Avg TD DENNIS NORTHCUTT, Browns 8 165 20.7 2 MARVIN HARRISON, Colts 9 145 16.1 1 KEYSHAWN JOHNSON, Buccaneers 6 131 21.8 1 PEERLESS PRICE, Bills 7 126 18.0 1 JERRY PORTER, Raiders 7 117 16.8 1 LAVERANUES COLES, Jets 8 116 14.6 0

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*--* DEFENSE Breakdown DARRIN SMITH, Saints 3 sacks, 8 unassisted tackles KEITH BULLOCK, Titans 12 unassisted tackles

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