<
>

Miami wins 10th straight opener; McNair hurt

9/10/2001

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The Miami Dolphins don't really care how
they play in the preseason. They know exactly what to do once the
games really count.

Jay Fiedler passed for 225 yards and two touchdowns as the
Dolphins beat the Tennessee Titans 31-23 Sunday night, their 10th
straight victory to open the season, the second-longest such streak
in NFL history.

Only the Dallas Cowboys have done better, winning 17 consecutive
openers from 1965 through 1981.

"Any time you come into this place like this and get a win,
it's a great feeling," Fiedler said.

It looked like the Dolphins' streak might end Sunday night. Only
the Baltimore Ravens have won since the Titans moved into Adelphia
Coliseum in 1999, and they had a record crowd of 68,798 to cheer on
a franchise that has won 26 games here.

But Miami, the only team ever to shut out the Titans under coach
Jeff Fisher, won its fifth straight in this series by giving
Fiedler plenty of time to throw, grabbing three interceptions and
knocking quarterback Steve McNair out of the game.

"This is not what I expected to see out of our football team
tonight," Fisher said. "Obviously, we didn't give ourselves a
chance from the start."

The Titans brought in a defense that was the NFL's best against
the pass last season and featured offseason addition Kevin Carter.
The Titans didn't sack Fiedler once, and he responded by hitting
seven of his first eight passes.

"For him to come down here and play in front of this crowd
against that kind of defense and take the kind of hits he took, for
him to hang in, he showed he's a tough guy, a real tough guy,"
Miami coach Dave Wannstedt said.

Fiedler made it 17-7 at halftime as he connected with Oronde
Gadsden on a 23-yard TD toss in the second quarter, and Lamar Smith
gave Fiedler the longest pass play of his career in the third as
Smith took a screen pass and went 65 yards up the middle for a TD
and a 24-7 lead.

Tennessee was even worse on offense.

The Titans got just 8 yards total offense in the first quarter,
and they hurt themselves repeatedly with nine penalties for 61
yards by halftime. They didn't pick up a first down that didn't
come by penalty until midway through the second quarter.

When Tennessee did score, new kicker Joe Nedney missed an extra
point.

All-Pro running back Eddie George, who carried only 11 times in
the preseason coming off toe surgery in February, never really did
get started. He rushed 18 times for 49 yards and couldn't think of
another game when the Titans played this poorly.

"We didn't take advantage of the opportunities we had as an
offense and, when that happens, the result is going to be that
you're going to get blown out at home," George said.

The Dolphins did plenty to keep George in check.

"We knew we had to keep his numbers down," Dolphins linebacker
Derrick Rodgers said. "Every time that he got the ball, we had to
make sure we had people around him to take the handoff with him.
Any time that big guy gets rolling downhill, he's tough to stop."

Not even a helping hand from the replacement officials could
make a difference for the Titans.

Chris Sanders had his hands on Dolphins cornerback Patrick
Surtain's head and shoulder on a pass down the sideline, but the
officials called defensive pass interference for a 34-yard gain on
the penalty. Still, Miami forced the Titans to punt.

Dolphins cornerback Sam Madison, who intercepted McNair three
times the last times these teams met in 1999, added another one
that kept the Titans from scoring just before halftime.

Miami linebacker Zach Thomas intercepted a pass by backup Neil
O'Donnell in the fourth quarter and returned it 34 yards for a
touchdown. O'Donnell was also picked off by Brian Walker.

The Titans finally looked like they were getting untracked in
the third quarter as McNair hit Derrick Mason for a 29-yard TD
pass. But Dolphins tackle Jermaine Haley hit McNair as he released
the ball, and McNair spent the rest of the game on the bench with
what the Titans called a "burner" in his throwing shoulder.

Game notes
Madison has 22 career interceptions, tying him with Terrell
Buckley, Curtis Johnson and Tim Foley for seventh in Dolphins'
history. ... Thomas has four career interceptions. ... Fisher said
doctors think cornerback Dainon Sidney ruptured the ACL in his left
knee. The Titans planned to X-ray safety Blaine Bishop for a
possible broken rib. ... Titans guard Bruce Matthews has played in
281 games, moving him just a game behind Jim Marshall on the career
list among non-kickers. ... Titans safety Bobby Myers' 14-yard
return of a fumble for a touchdown was the first of his career. It
was the first against the Dolphins since Chad Cota returned a
fumble 25 yards for a touchdown on Dec. 5, 1999.

Comments

ESPN Fan Shop Powered By

  • Nike Men's Home Limited Miami Dolphins Ryan Tannehill #17 JerseyShop

  • Antigua Men's Tennessee Titans Pique Xtra-Lite Navy PoloPrice: $39.99 Shop

NFL News