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Miami keeps playoff hopes alive

11/28/2003

IRVING, Texas (AP) -- Mario Edwards chased Chris Chambers down
the sideline, never looking up for the ball. Edwards banged into
the receiver, drawing a pass interference penalty on the first play
of the game.

The tone was set. And it wasn't a good one for the Dallas Cowboys.

The Dolphins went on to score on the opening drive, something no
team had done against Dallas in 22 games. Miami kept scoring, too,
all the way to a 40-21 victory Thursday that left coach Bill
Parcells "a little embarrassed."

"That we would go out here on Thanksgiving in a national game
and play like that, I told the players that and they should be
embarrassed too," Parcells said. "It was pretty bad."

Other than Richie Anderson, who had the first two-touchdown game of his 11-year career, pretty much everyone wearing the throwback, double-star jerseys could be criticized.

The offense had just 10 yards in the first quarter, recovered
to get within nine points at halftime, then quarterback Quincy Carter blew it with four second-half turnovers. His fumble on the
opening drive of the third quarter was returned 34 yards for a
touchdown and the rout was on.

Carter was 24-of-40 for 288 yards, but he had 141 in the fourth
quarter when the game was pretty much decided.

The running game was practically nonexistent: 91 yards, 42
coming on scrambles by Carter, and just 2 yards on three carries by
starter Troy Hambrick. Parcells said not to read much into all that
because the score made running a poor option.

The defense looked nothing like a unit that came in rated as
the NFL's best, allowing the fewest points (15.3) and just 82.4
yards per game rushing.

Jay Fiedler, making his first start since Oct. 19, was 16-of-20
for 239 yards and three touchdowns, all to Chris Chambers, and ran
for another score. Once he stopped throwing, Ricky Williams started
running, gaining 104 yards.

In his first pro game in Texas, the former Longhorns star went
over 100 for the third straight week and over 1,000 for the fourth
straight season.

"We've had a lot of ups and downs since I left here, but when I
come back, they're always my No. 1 fans," Williams said. "It
really builds my confidence."

The special teams weren't very good, either.

Derek Ross fumbled two kickoffs, losing one -- the one right
after Fiedler scored on the opening drive. Luckily for Dallas,
Williams fumbled on the next snap, so it didn't hurt. Also, punter
Toby Gowin did little to help his iffy status, booting a 26-yarder
on his first attempt and finishing with 36.6 yards on five tries.

Dallas (8-4) has now lost three times in six games. The
Cowboys have fallen out of a first-place tie with the Eagles in the
NFC East, and out of a four-way tie for the best record in the
conference.

"We had no chance at a win," Parcells said. "This team does
not have the maturity for this kind of situation. We have young
players who do not understand what's going on. ... We were just
awful."

The lopsided loss erases the joy of a 24-20 victory over
Carolina that brought tears to Parcells' eyes, and the
disappointment will linger for 10 days, until the Cowboys play at
Philadelphia.

"It just didn't seem like we were ready to play. That surprised
me," said Anderson, who had his first rushing touchdown since 1996
and a 25-yard TD catch. "They played better than we did, more
focused than we did and made more plays than we did."

Miami (8-4) had its highest-scoring game since getting 49 in the
2002 opener. The Dolphins moved 1½ games behind New England in the
AFC East and 1½ games ahead of Denver and Cincinnati for the
conference's final wild-card spot.

This was their third straight win and they've improved to 5-1 on
the road. That's the kind of momentum they need considering their
history of disastrous Decembers and a schedule that could set them
up for another: at New England a week from Sunday, then home
against Philadelphia.

"We talked all week about how we needed this win, and they came
out and made it happen," said Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt,
making his second appearance as a head coach in Texas Stadium since
he was defensive coordinator on the Cowboys' 1992 Super Bowl
championship team.

Miami led 10-0, then Anderson got his first score, a 4-yard run
that was his first on the ground since 1996. The Cowboys would
never get any closer.

Fiedler and Chambers answered with their first touchdown, a
well-thrown 39-yarder. Anderson scored again on a 25-yard
reception. Chambers, though, followed with a 6-yard touchdown,
reaching out to snag the ball and tapping the tips of his toes
while falling out of the back of the end zone with 10 seconds left
in the half.

Their third connection was a 35-yarder in the third quarter.
Chambers finished with five catches for 96 yards.

Williams' third straight 100-yard game gives him 15 since
joining Miami, tying Larry Csonka for the most in team history.
It's his fourth straight 1,000-yard season and second in a row in
Miami, letting him join Csonka as the only Dolphins players to do
it more than once.

Game Notes: The Cowboys are 22-13-1 on Thanksgiving, 1-3 against the
Dolphins on the holiday. ... The 23 points Miami scored by halftime
were the most Dallas has allowed in the first half this season, and
the most in any half since the Giants scored 25 in the third and
fourth quarters of the second game. ... Flozell Adams blocked his
team-record third extra point this season. It was his fourth career
PAT stuff and his seventh career kick block. ... Fiedler went to
Dartmouth, making him the second Ivy League quarterback to be a
Thanksgiving star in the last decade. Jason Garrett of Princeton
did it for the Cowboys in 1994, leading them past Green Bay when
Troy Aikman and Rodney Peete were hurt.

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