Griese shines in Dolphins debut on Monday night
JERSEY CITY, New Jersey - The crowd had barely filed in before the Miami Dolphins jumped ahead of the San Diego Chargers. And once they got settled, Brian Griese was in the midst of passing clinic and living up to his famous last name.
Making his season debut, Griese completed 13-of-14 passes before halftime as the Dolphins got off to a great start on both sides of the ball en route to a 26-10 victory over the Chargers.
With wildfires raging in the San Diego area, the game was moved to Sun Devil Stadium. At the home of the Arizona Cardinals, who attracted only 40,824 fans for their game against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, this contest drew a capacity crowd of 73,014 fans, who were admitted for free.
Griese opened the scoring with a five-yard TD pass to Chris Chambers just over two minutes into the game and Olindo Mare kicked a 44-yard over four minutes later. Both scores were set up by interceptions of Drew Brees, who was picked off twice on his first four pass attempts.
On 3rd-and-2 from San Diego's 32, Patrick Surtain picked off a pass and returned it 32 yards to the 6. Just 2:18 later, Brees dropped back on 2nd-and-5 and missed running back LaDainian Tomlinson. Linebacker Zach Thomas ended up with the ball and returned it 19 yards to San Diego's 24.
Griese, whose father Bob Griese led Miami to three Super Bowl titles from 1967-1980 and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame 10 years later, completed his first game in a Miami uniform by completing 20-of-29 passes for 192 yards and three TDs. They are the first father-son duo to play for the same team.
"It felt pretty special," Griese said. "I have waited seven weeks and wanted to contribute to the team in some way. I had the opportunity and it felt great. On Monday Night Football, I don't think I could have asked for anything more."
Facing a Chargers (1-6) team that was coming off its first win, a 26-20 victory at Cleveland, Griese threw two more TDs in the second quarter, connecting with James McKnight on a seven-yard score and tight end Randy McMichael on a two-yard strike.
In its latest loss, San Diego was limited to only 250 yards of total offense and gave up six sacks. Tomlinson was held to 62 yards on 24 carries, Brees completed 19-of-30 passes for 190 yards while throwing three interceptions and former Cardinals receiver David Boston had five catches for 82 yards.
"They played like they always play," Schottenheimer said of the Dolphins' defense. "When you get in a situation where you have to throw against them, they're going to sack your quarterback. We didn't have a way to answer."
The game was scheduled to be at San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium, marking a homecoming for Dolphins linebacker Junior Seau. But on Sunday, NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue suggested the teams play at Arizona after the city of San Diego advised the league that the game could not be played at Qualcomm.
Wildfires in Southern California have burned at least 650 homes and left 14 people dead. The fires stretch for miles and have been fanned by fierce winds.
The parking lot at Qualcomm Stadium has been turned into a major evacuation center as residents in surrounding neighborhoods were ordered out of their homes by authorities.
Seau, who was born in San Diego and graduated from Oceanside High School, spent his entire career with the Chargers before being dealt to Miami in April for a conditional pick in the 2004 draft.
Perhaps the greatest defensive player in the Chargers' history, Seau was selected to 12 Pro Bowls in 13 seasons as an outside linebacker in San Diego. He received the 2003 Spirit of San Diego Award from the city's Chamber of Commerce for community commitment and leadership.
"This was the hardest game I had to play," Seau said. "The game was secondary compared to the things going on back there. All the players did a great job of blocking everything out. It is a struggle for all of us and I can't wait to get home.
"Emotionally those are my guys (Chargers), some of the guys I raised and some I shared a lot of years with. It is my home and always will be."
Miami (5-2) has won five of its last six games and moved within one-half game of the New England Patriots for the lead in the AFC East.
San Diego is in the basement of the AFC West and has dropped 10 of its last 11 games dating to last season.
On Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs (8-0) remained the NFL's only unbeaten team with a 38-5 rout of the Buffalo Bills. Earlier Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings fell from the ranks of the unbeatens, losing to the New York Giants, 29-17.
Only 11 teams since 1972 have reached the midway point of the season with an unbeaten record and eight of those advanced to the Super Bowl.
Kansas City's next four games are against teams with losing records - Cleveland (3-5), Cincinnati (3-4), Oakland (2-5) and San Diego.
This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index
MORE NFL HEADLINES
- Agent: Peppers joins Packers on 3-year deal
- Steve Smith reaches 3-year deal with Ravens
- Colts strike deal with former Giants WR Nicks
- Pats reach deal with suspended CB Browner