Dolphins utilize other weapons in win

WR James McKnight was among the Miami offensive players to shine while Ricky Williams was shut down.

Updated: October 8, 2003, 11:29 AM ET
By Kieran Darcy | ESPN The Magazine

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- James McKnight was in a rush.

"I gotta go guys. Sorry. I got family outside waiting for me."

With that, McKnight left the group of reporters gathered around his locker, and headed for the showers -- shirtless, wearing only a navy towel around his waist and orange slippers on his feet. The Miami wide receiver seemed relatively subdued, considering he had made the biggest play in the Dolphins' 23-10 win over the New York Giants, a 68-yard touchdown run on a reverse.

James McKnight
McKnight
"We've got a lot of guys on this team who can make plays," McKnight remarked minutes earlier. "You haven't seen the best of the Miami Dolphins. Stay tuned."

When people talk about the Miami offense, they're almost always referring to Ricky Williams, the Dolphins' super-back who more often than not carries the team to victory. In their last game two weeks ago, Williams ran the ball 42 times for 153 yards against Buffalo. One week earlier, in this very same stadium against the Jets, he racked up 125 yards on 34 carries.

So if you just looked at the postgame stat sheet on Sunday, and saw that Williams accumulated only 39 yards on 22 carries, you'd certainly be skeptical of the Dolphins' chances. But while much of the pregame hype centered on the Giants' plethora of offensive weapons, the Dolphins showed they have several other weapons of their own.

"We knew the Giants had a lot of good players," said Miami fullback Rob Konrad. "We didn't pay attention to all the talk. Not many teams have as many talented skill players as we do."

Miami head coach Dave Wannstedt singled out Konrad in particular after the game. He hadn't carried the ball once so far this season, and had just four receptions for 33 yards. But on Sunday he had two catches, including a 25-yarder that set the Dolphins up for a field goal. And he ran the ball three times, including an 11-yarder. All this despite hurting his knee late in the first half.

"It was nice to run the ball again," Konrad said. "There's only one football. So when your number is called, you have to take advantage of the opportunity."

Tight end Randy McMichael also took advantage of his opportunities, reeling in a 33-yarder on the first play from scrimmage, and a 24-yarder on third and nine in the fourth quarter, on a drive that led to the game-sealing touchdown.

McMichael was chattering a mile a minute after the game, with a big grin. "I don't worry about getting attention," McMichael said. "I promise you the team we play next week will know all about me."

We've got a lot of guys on this team who can make plays. You haven't seen the best of the Miami Dolphins. Stay tuned.
Dolphins WR James McKnight

He took particular pleasure in getting the best of fellow tight end Jeremy Shockey of the Giants. They were the top two rookie tight ends in the NFL last season, but Shockey received much more attention. Shockey was picked No. 14 in the first round by the Giants, McMichael No. 114 in the fourth round by the Dolphins. Shockey did have 11 catches for 110 yards on Sunday.

"I went over and told him, 'Great game' when it was over," McMichael said. "But I guarantee he's not too happy over there in that other locker room right now. We got the win, and that's all that matters to me."

McKnight is the third wide receiver on Miami's depth chart, and had just two catches for 30 yards coming into this game. But he took the handoff on the reverse from Williams, who was about to be swallowed up by the defense yet again, and then sprinted down the right sideline, slowing somewhat over the last few yards to let his blockers lead the way.

McKnight was much more soft-spoken than McMichael.

"It was a great team effort on one particular play," McKnight said, "and I ended up with the touchdown."

What made McKnight's play even more impressive was the distraction he dealt with this past week. His wife, Mikki, gave birth to the couple's second child on Wednesday, according to the Miami Herald.

Fifteen minutes after McKnight hit the showers, most of the Miami players, including Williams, had already left. But Konrad was still around, talking to a few people. And McMichael was being ushered outside to do a TV interview. Neither seemed surprised by all the attention.

McKnight was back at his locker, buttoning up a brown vest that matched his deep brown eyes, and putting on a checkered gray suit coat. Several reporters were still hovering around him, asking the same questions he'd answered already several times before. He answered a few more, then announced once again that he had to go.

He turned back into his locker, and grabbed his black backpack.

"James, James!" yet another reporter yelled, shoving a cell phone in his face. "Can you do a live radio interview right now?"

"Um, can I walk and talk?" McKnight replied.

"Sure. I'll even take your suitcase for you."

With that, McKnight took the telephone in stride, and walked out into the tunnel.

Stay tuned.

Kieran Darcy is a senior researcher for ESPN The Magazine.

Kieran Darcy is an ESPNNewYork.com staff writer. He joined ESPN in August 2000 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he played four years of JV basketball.
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