8:30 PM ET, December 26, 2004
MIAMI (AP) -- When Olindo Mare kicked the winning field goal with 7 seconds left, the 20,000 fans still on hand rose and roared, pleased to avoid having to watch an overtime.Four quarters was bad enough. In a matchup of last-place teams, the Miami Dolphins were just a little less awful than the Cleveland Browns, with Mare kicking a 51-yarder for a 10-7 victory Sunday night."It wasn't a pretty game for people who like to see 80 points on the board," Browns safety Earl Little said. "We knew somebody would get that one break at the end and win."Jim Bates won in the matchup of interim coaches against Terry Robiskie. Bates improved to 3-3 since Dave Wannstedt resigned, but he'll be replaced after the season by LSU coach Nick Saban, who accepted the Miami job Saturday."I have built confidence being in this position that I can handle this job," said Bates, who interviewed unsuccessfully for the job. "There isn't any doubt in my mind that I can do this type of work."The Dolphins (4-11) made it two wins in a row for the first time this season, although they hardly looked like the same team that upset defending Super Bowl champion New England last Monday.Lee Suggs broke Jim Brown's 45-year-old Cleveland franchise record for carries with 38 for 143 yards, but the Browns (3-12) still lost their ninth game in a row. Robiskie fell to 0-4 since replacing Butch Davis.With 1:49 left, the Dolphins took possession at their 28-yard line following a punt. A.J. Feeley moved the team 40 yards in eight plays, setting up Mare for the winner."A lot of times, we've seen teams quit," Bates said. "They're 4-11, and they're ready to go home. They've got their bags packed."This team has not quit."Still, Miami's victory was hardly picturesque. The teams combined for six turnovers and went 3½ quarters without a point after an early 7-all tie with impressive ineptitude."A lot of times, we kind of stepped on our foot," Feeley said.The Dolphins faked a field goal, tried a pooch punt instead and netted 2 yards. They had a 6½-minute drive that barely reached midfield. Tight end Randy McMichael, who has lobbied for more passes, dropped two. Feeley drilled a throw 5 yards into the chest of defensive end Ebenezer Ekuban, who was too astounded to make the interception.The Browns lost a fumble at the Miami 2 and had a takeaway negated by a penalty. But the ugliest moment came in the third quarter, with an interception and two fumbles on the same play.Luke McCown's deep throw was intercepted by Arturo Freeman, who fumbled. Teammate Patrick Surtain picked up the ball, then lateraled to Sam Madison, who fumbled. The Browns recovered for a net gain of 26 yards.More comedy came three plays later, when Phil Dawson missed a 43-yard field goal when his attempt hit the right upright."That kind of sums up our season," Browns center Melvin Fowler said. "We haven't gotten many breaks."With the stands more than half-empty, as they have been much of this season in Miami, Pro Player Stadium had all the atmosphere of an August exhibition game. The Dolphins struggled to take advantage of Cleveland's four turnovers, sputtering on offense against a Browns team that allowed 158 points in the past four games.An interception by Surtain set up the game's first score, which came on an 18-yard pass from Feeley to Derrius Thompson.Cleveland pulled even 88 seconds later. McCown was flushed out of the pocket and threw long across his body, hitting Dennis Northcutt in stride for a 58-yard score.The Browns squandered a chance to take the lead in the second quarter when Suggs fumbled and Miami's Sammy Knight recovered at the 2."Both teams scored early, and we thought it was going to be a shootout," Northcutt said. "Then it was just drive and punt, drive and punt."
Suggs broke Brown's team record of 37 carries, set against the Chicago Cardinals on Oct. 14, 1959. ... The game-time temperature was 55, a big improvement for the Browns. They played in a wind chill that dipped to minus-25 last week against San Diego. ... Miami MLB Zach Thomas, who had missed the past three games because of a hamstring injury, made 18 tackles.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Team Stat Comparison
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
|Yards per play||4.9||3.9|
Yards per pass
Yards per rush
|TD||6:00||DERRIUS THOMPSON 18 YD PASS FROM A.J. FEELEY (OLINDO MARE KICK) |
Drive: 5 plays, 49 yds, 1:54
|TD||7:28||DENNIS NORTHCUTT 58 YD PASS FROM LUKE MCCOWN (PHIL DAWSON KICK) |
Drive: 3 plays, 62 yds, 1:28
|FG||14:53||OLINDO MARE 51 YD |
Drive: 8 plays, 40 yds, 1:42