They can thank their new defensive approach.
"I'm very pleased with the effort defensively. We're learning
the discipline of defense," St. Louis coach Mike Martz said.
"It's going to take some time. We know it. But we're willing to
work at it."
The Rams retooled their defense after last season, hiring a new
coordinator and new line, secondary and special teams coaches. They
also added six-time Pro Bowl cornerback Aeneas Williams,
linebackers Mark Fields and Davis, linemen Cedric Jones and Tyoka Jackson and safety Kim Herring. St. Louis also used all three of
its first-round draft choices on defenders: tackle Damione Lewis,
safety Adam Archuleta and tackle Ryan Pickett.
Warner, the NFL's MVP in 1999, played only one series and didn't
attempt a pass. His backup, Joe Germaine, was 11-for-13 and ran for
a score. Last year's MVP in the NFL, Faulk, didn't even play.
With almost all of the frontline players for both teams watching
from the sidelines, Bulger, in his second year after not getting in
last season with New Orleans, hit two key passes as the Rams drove
57 yards in six plays.
On third-and-1 at the Miami 49, he tossed a 15-yard pass to
Trung Canidate, who sprained a ligament in his knee on the play.
Bulger found Robinson on a play-action pass on second-and-goal.
"It sure feels good to get that first touchdown, but I've got a
long way to go," Bulger said. "Last year in New Orleans I never
even saw the field. So I'm already ahead of a things here. That's
not to say that I don't have a long, long way to go."
Canidate caught four passes for 77 yards and also rushed for 26
The Dolphins' best shot at tying the game ended when Josh
Heupel, who led Oklahoma to the national championship last season,
threw a pass through the end zone with 1:53 remaining.
Another pass by Heupel into the end zone fell incomplete on the
Miami gained 25 yards on its first play of the exhibition
season, a pass from Jay Fiedler to Rob Konrad. On the next play,
however, Fiedler's pass was tipped by linebacker Don Davis and was
intercepted by Dexter McCleon.
The Dolphins avoided any glitches on their second possession,
going 70 yards in 11 plays capped by Lamar Smith's 2-yard run.
Fiedler was 3-for-3 on the drive for 43 yards -- each pass good for
a first down.
"I was pleased with our first offense," Miami coach Dave
Wannstedt said. "I think Jay was a little nervous on the opening
drive. We ran the ball well and Jay made some plays."
The Rams scored the next 10 points, all with Germaine at
quarterback. He completed both attempts for 25 yards, leading to
Jeff Wilkins' 34-yard field goal, then hit on all five of his
passes in a 59-yard drive that he capped by keeping up the middle
for a 2-yard touchdown.
"They've got me doing a little more running," Germaine said
after carrying twice for seven yards. "Four years at Ohio State, I
Germaine passed for 156 yards, double anyone else in the game.
"Whatever it takes to move the chains: running, throwing, a
draw, a sneak -- I'm all for it," he said.
St. Louis was 10-6 in the NFC West last year and earned a
wild-card berth in the playoffs, losing to New Orleans 31-28.
The Dolphins' Olindo Mare kicked a 45-yard field goal on the
last play of the half to tie it at 10.
With the score still 10-10 late in the third quarter, St. Louis
drove to a first down at the Miami 1. After being stopped for no
gain on first down by Dolphins safety Shawn Wooden, Canidate
fumbled the ball and it was recovered in the end zone by Wooden.
Backup quarterback Ray Lucas strained his back and didn't play
in the second half for Miami. The Dolphins also lost defensive end
Jason Taylor with a shoulder injury and running back J.J. Johnson
with a knee injury.
The Dolphins are coming off a surprising 11-5 season in which
they won the AFC East and then won their first playoff game before
losing 27-0 to Oakland.
"Well, we haven't peaked yet," Martz cracked. "But we're
better at this stage this year. The first quarter we flopped, but
as the game wore on we made the plays."