NFL moves Monday night game to Tempe

Updated: October 27, 2003, 11:43 PM ET

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Brian Griese was nearly perfect in his first start for Miami, throwing three touchdown passes as the Dolphins took a 24-3 lead over the San Diego Chargers after three quarters Monday night.

Griese completed 15 of his first 16 passes and was 16-of-20 for 158 yards through three quarters.

The game was played in Sun Devil Stadium, home of the Arizona Cardinals. Wildfires raging throughout Southern California forced the NFL to move the game from San Diego, which was making its first appearance in a Monday night game since Nov. 11, 1996.

The NFL decided Sunday night to move the game from Qualcomm Stadium, where the parking lot was being used as a relocation center for people forced from their homes. Fans were admitted for free, but were asked to donate to a relief fund.

The Cardinals said 73,014 tickets were distributed.

Griese's scoring passes covered 5 yards to Chris Chambers, 2 to James McKnight and 7 yards to Randy McMichael.

The Dolphins defense dominated as well, intercepting three passes by San Diego's Drew Brees.

Miami also held LaDainian Tomlinson, who was coming off his third 200-yard game in a 2{-year career, to 55 yards in 21 carries through three quarters. The Dolphins limited Tomlinson to 45 yards on 14 attempts last season in his only previous game against them.

Griese, who signed with Miami in June after Denver released him, and his father, Bob, became the first father and son to play quarterback for the same team in NFL history.

He replaced Jay Fiedler, who sprained a ligament in his left knee late in a 19-13 overtime loss to New England on Oct. 19.

Griese completed his first six passes before Ricky Williams dropped one, avoiding a loss. After a 6-yard run by Williams, Griese connected with McKnight in the corner of the end zone 1:32 into the second quarter to give Miami a 17-3 lead.

After Patrick Surtain's second interception of Brees -- this one in the end zone, where the cornerback took a knee -- Griese marched Miami 80 yards in 3:04, capping it with the TD pass to McMichael with 1:55 left in the half.

The big play of the drive was a 49-yard pass to Chambers to the Chargers 16.

Miami had two big defensive plays in the first 6:26.

Surtain stepped in front of David Boston and picked off Brees' first pass. Surtain found a seam to his right and returned the ball 32 yards to the Chargers 6.

Two plays later, Griese hit Chambers for the score just 2:02 in.

San Diego managed a first down on its next possession, but two plays later Brees passed slightly behind Tomlinson, and the ball went off his upraised arm and was intercepted by Thomas.

After Thomas' 19-yard return, the Dolphins stalled and Olindo Mare kicked a 44-yard field goal with 8:34 left in the quarter.

The Chargers finally sustained their next drive, getting near midfield on Brees' 23-yard pass to Eric Parker off a scramble, and Steve Christie cut the deficit to 10-3 with a 51-yard field goal with 3:17 left.

But Miami's defense came up big again near the end of the second quarter as Arturo Freeman and Adewale Ogunleye moved the Chargers out of field-goal range with sacks.

The game was the third catastrophe-related adjustment for an NFL game.

The league moved a game between the Patriots and 49ers from San Francisco to Palo Alto, Calif., on Oct. 22, 1989, after the Bay area earthquake, and postponed an Oct. 6, 1992, game between New England and Miami for six weeks because of damage from Hurricane Andrew.

This story is from's automated news wire. Wire index