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Lucas gets first victory as Dolphins' starter

11/17/2002

MIAMI (AP) -- Three consecutive losses as a starting quarterback
left Ray Lucas wondering whether he belonged in the NFL.

Question on the Ravens: Should Lewis continue to play or would he be better off with season-ending surgery?
He probably would be better off with the surgery. The Ravens need a healthy Ray Lewis. It's hard to say, though. He's so competitive, but hopefully he can see beyond this season and think about the rest of his career.

Question on the Dolphins: How big of a win was this for Lucas -- and the defense?
Miami's offense needed a win against a quality defense. And the D is playing superbly. Miami CB Patrick Surtain is the best cornerback in the AFC right now. He and Jason Taylor led the Dolphins to victory today. They'll need more of the same to be successful while QB Jay Fiedler mends.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

But the Miami Dolphins never lost faith in their popular
teammate, and he finally rewarded their confidence Sunday, throwing
for 221 yards to help beat the Baltimore Ravens 26-7.

"I'm going to sleep tonight for the first time in a month,''
Lucas said, looking relieved rather than jubilant.

Miami (6-4) ended a streak of three consecutive losses, all with
Lucas starting for Jay Fiedler, who will likely miss two more games
with a broken thumb.

A seven-year veteran, Lucas acknowledged he began to doubt
himself.

"It's a scary aspect of the business,'' he said. "To go out
there and lose three straight, it creeps into your mind.''

But his fast start against Baltimore gave the Dolphins some
breathing room, and their suffocating defense did the rest. Miami
notched seven sacks and held the Ravens to a season-low 157 yards.

"That's a butt-kicking right there,'' linebacker Zach Thomas
said. "We played some smashmouth.''

Despite their recent slump, the Dolphins remained in first place
in the AFC East. The young Ravens (4-6) fell to third place in the
AFC North.

"For the first time, we regressed,'' coach Brian Billick said.
"It's always tough to lose, but we didn't get better today. This
young group made a lot of mistakes. We need a day off. They'll get
one, but they didn't earn it.''

The Dolphins, who scored a single touchdown in each of Lucas'
first three starts, mounted two TD drives as they took a 17-7
halftime lead.

Baltimore failed to convert its first seven third-down
situations and never threatened a comeback. Jeff Blake threw an
interception that led to a Miami field goal, totaled just 127 yards
passing and was constantly harried.

"He's going to be sore tomorrow,'' Miami defensive end Jason Taylor said.

The Ravens' lone score came when they surprised Miami by
throwing deep on fourth-and-1. The gamble paid off with a 28-yard
touchdown pass from Blake to Travis Taylor.

Otherwise, it was all Dolphins. Even with All-Pro middle
linebacker Ray Lewis back for the Ravens after missing five games
with a partially separated left shoulder, they gave up scoring
drives of 88, 61, 43 and 82 yards.

"We made some mistakes,'' Lewis said. "This is the kind of
game where we'll watch the film this week and say, 'What were we
thinking?' on some plays.''

Miami's Ricky Williams tied a team record with his fifth
100-yard rushing game, but his first in five games. He gained 102
yards in 26 carries and scored on runs of 2 and 4 yards.

Lucas completed 18 of 26 passes and scored on a 1-yard sneak.
The Dolphins had no turnovers after committing 12 in the past three
losses, nine by Lucas.

"Ray was efficient,'' tackle Mark Dixon said. "The new-car
smell is off of him. He has broken in the seats and knows how to
drive the thing. That helps all of us.''

Lucas threw his longest completion since 1999 when he hit tight
end Randy McMichael for a 45-yard gain. That set up Miami's first
score, a 2-yard touchdown run by Williams to cap the 88-yard drive,
the Dolphins' longest since the season opener.

Lamont Brightful's 43-yard punt return led to Baltimore's tying
score. It came four plays later when Blake threw deep on
fourth-and-1, and Taylor easily beat Sam Madison to make the catch
at the goal line.

Miami mounted a 61-yard drive to regain the lead, with Lucas
scoring on a 1-yard sneak. Olindo Mare's 42-yard field goal with
:08 left in the first half made it 17-7.

An interception by Patrick Surtain set up a 49-yarder by Mare
for a 20-7 lead.

James McKnight turned a short reception into a 39-yard gain to
set up Miami's final score, a 4-yard run by Williams.

Said Williams: "We've got our swagger back.''

Game notes
Dolphins receiver Cris Carter, released from a hospital
Friday after being treated for a kidney problem, watched from the
sideline. He's expected to miss at least one more game. "I'm
getting better every day,'' he said, "and you always feel better
when you win.'' ... Ravens receiver Javin Hunter sustained a
concussion in the first half. ... Lucas bruised his left elbow but
didn't miss a play. ... Williams tied Delvin Williams' 1978 team
record of five 100-yard rushing games in a season.