Bad blocking dooms Dolphins

Updated: November 2, 2003, 8:04 PM ET

MIAMI -- Those holes Ricky Williams ran through last year have vanished.

The 2002 NFL rushing champion had the least productive day in his two seasons with the Miami Dolphins, totaling just 36 yards Sunday in a 23-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

No one suggests that Williams has forgotten how to run. The problem seems to be blocking -- and not just on running plays.

The Dolphins gave up five sacks against the Colts, including one that produced a game-deciding fumble by Brian Griese with two minutes left.

One reason the Colts were able to mount an aggressive pass rush is because the Dolphins failed to get their ground game going again.

"We didn't," coach Dave Wannstedt acknowledged. "And we need to if we're going to be the type of team we all expect ourselves to be."

The Dolphins dropped to 5-3, one game behind AFC East leader New England, which plays Monday night.

While the run-blocking failures were a team effort, most of Miami's pass protection breakdowns were by rookie left tackle Wade Smith. He gave up three sacks to Dwight Freeney, including two that resulted in fumbles by Griese.

"I didn't play as well as I can," Smith said.

Smith is the only change in the offensive line from last season, when Williams led the NFL with 1,853 yards rushing. Last year's starting left tackle, Mark Dixon, has missed the entire season with an ankle injury and is expected to be placed on injured reserve Monday.

That leaves the Dolphins with few alternatives to Smith, a third-round draft pick who has been pressed into duty sooner than planned.

"As a group, we're disappointed," center Tim Ruddy said. "None of us are pointing fingers at one individual. It's not one guy's fault, and none of us in here feel that way."

The Dolphins rushed for 47 yards, their lowest total since a playoff loss two seasons ago -- the last time they took the field without Williams.

"The way the game was going, we didn't have a chance to run the ball as much as we wanted," Williams said.

Last year the Dolphins often dominated time of possession. On Sunday, they had the ball for barely 22 minutes.

And they didn't do much with it. Williams carried 13 times and averaged 2.8 yards per attempt, with a long gain of 6. He was held below 100 yards for the fifth consecutive game.

"Ricky Williams is a tough ball carrier," Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy said. "We knew we would have to be on top of him every play. We missed a couple of tackles, but overall I think we tackled very well."

Freeney came up with the hit that saved the Colts, sacking Griese from the blind side to force a fumble. That ended the Dolphins' chance to take the lead in the closing moments after they reached the Indy 13.

"It's hard to have eyes in the back of your head," Griese said.

"We had a chance to win at the end of the game, and obviously we let it go," Williams said. "That's what hurts the most."

Five sacks were the most allowed by the Dolphins in their past 16 games.

"Obviously when you give up five sacks, you have to start with the offensive line," Wannstedt said. "We've just got to keep working with those guys to get better. And they will."

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

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