Monday, November 19, 2007

Tonight I'm gonna party like its 1999

From CNN/SI



Damon Huard is making a name for himself while emerging from the shadow of Dan Marino.

MIAMI (AP) -- Dull on offense without Dan Marino, the Miami Dolphins nonetheless survived another thrilling finish.

Damon Huard led a conservative attack in his first NFL start, and the Dolphins beat the Philadelphia Eagles 16-13 Sunday when a tricky breeze blew Norm Johnson's 42-yard field-goal attempt wide right with 52 seconds left.

Cecil Collins rushed for 97 yards and Miami controlled the ball for 36 minutes despite throwing a season-low 21 passes.

"I want to run it enough to where we're boring," coach Jimmy Johnson said. "I love these 16-13 boring games."

It wasn't boring at the finish for the AFC East-leading Dolphins (5-1). Their past four wins have been by a total of 10 points.

"It's nerve-wracking," middle linebacker Zach Thomas said. "I don't even like watching. My heart's fine, but my hair -- I think I'm going to be the first one in my family to go bald."

The ending was painfully familiar for the Eagles (2-5), who totaled just 175 yards. They've lost three games by a total of five points.

"We're about to turn the corner," receiver Charles Johnson said. "It's almost like we're peeking around the corner. We're that close to being a complete team."

The Dolphins notched only their second victory in the past 11 games when Marino doesn't play, and they may be without him for a while. He's unable to throw because of a bone spur in his lower neck, and ESPN reported that he'll fly to California on Tuesday to see a specialist.

Marino and Dolphins officials declined to comment on the report. He suited up but missed a start for the first time since 1996, a span of 50 games.

Even without the future Hall of Famer, the Dolphins had the better quarterback against Philadelphia, and they also had the best kicker. Olindo Mare made field goals of 37, 37 and 53 yards, extending his streak of kicks without a miss to 17, a Miami record.

Huard outplayed counterpart Doug Pederson, who was 13-for-25 for 108 yards with four sacks. The Eagles' offense totaled just 175 yards, but coach Andy Reid chose not to use rookie quarterback Donovan McNabb.

"I was feeling comfortable with Doug today," Reid said. "He did some nice things, and there were some things he did I'm sure he wasn't pleased about."

Stingy defense allowed Miami to overcome one glaring mistake by Huard, an interception returned 67 yards for a touchdown by Brian Dawkins. Huard finished 15-for-21 for 142 yards and picked up three first downs on keepers.

"There's a lot of room for improvement," Huard said. "But anytime you win in your first start, you feel pretty good about it."

Miami raced to a 10-0 lead and held on when Philadelphia failed to make the most of two scoring chances in the fourth quarter.

Trailing 16-10, the Eagles drove to the Miami 7, but a holding penalty and sack pushed them back to the 26, and Johnson kicked a 44-yard field goal with 6:08 to go.

Dawkins recovered a Collins fumble at the Philadelphia 42 with 2:33 left. The Eagles reached the Miami 24, but after Pederson's third-and-2 pass was incomplete, Johnson missed the potential tying kick.

Johnson, 9-for-10 previously this season inside 50 yards, thought he hit the ball well.

"I was elated," he said. "Then I looked up and it started drifting right. It's not the way it usually drifts for a right-handed kicker. I was very surprised."

Miami was nursing a 13-3 lead late in the third period when Huard tried to hit Oronde Gadsden on a short pass near the sideline. Dawkins intercepted and ran untouched for the score. It was the second Huard interception returned for a touchdown in two weeks.

But Huard started quickly, moving the Dolphins to scores on their first two possessions. Miami scored a touchdown in the first quarter for the first time in 11 games on J.J. Johnson's 12-yard run, capping a 63-yard drive.

Philadelphia's comeback bid began with David Akers' first NFL field goal, a 53-yarder.

"We didn't give up hope," Reid said, "until the final kick."

GAME NOTES
The Eagles were depleted at linebacker. Rookie Barry Gardner left the game in the first quarter with a sprained right knee, and Mike Caldwell missed the game with a sore hamstring.


The Dolphins rushed for a season-high 149 yards without their best-run blocker, Mark Dixon, who missed the game due to a sore groin.


The Dolphins haven't allowed anyone to rush for 100 yards or a touchdown.


Philadelphia's offense failed to score a touchdown for the fourth time in seven games.


Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson had so much confidence in his defense that he tried an onside kick with a 13-3 lead. The gamble failed, but Miami quickly forced a punt.


Philadelphia's Sean Landeta, playing in his 200th NFL game, punted five times for a 47.8-yard average.


Olindo Mare's 53-yard field goal matched the longest of his career. The kick was his 17th in a row without a miss, breaking the team record set by Garo Yepremian of 16 set in 1978.


Philadelphia fell to 0-5 in Miami.
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