"(We) played on the short end of the field a bunch. We gave up one touchdown. If you told me going in that we could hold Miami to one touchdown, I'd say we won the ball game. The thing we did with a short field, we kept them out of the end zone and made them kick field goals.
"There was a lot to overcome in this ball game."
Early miscues put tremendous pressure on a FSU defensive unit that its back to its own end zone far too many times. In fact, all the Hurricanes had to show for three trips inside the Seminoles' 10-yard line and five inside the 32 in the game's first 22 minutes was a pair of field goals.
"We really didn't get a chance," FSU defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said in measured tones, staring straight ahead as he spoke.
"The thing was to stop them. And every time something happened and we were back on the field. It was tough to bounce back from -- that can wear a defense down. It was very frustrating. I am not going to do any finger-pointing or anything like that, but it's tough man."
The Seminoles certainly had their share of mistakes. They had a punt blocked, lost an accidental onside kick and turned the ball over five times in a stretch of seven possessions.
Quarterback Chris Rix, who couldn't seem to overcome the rainy conditions, threw two interceptions and lost two fumbles. UM turned the second fumble into its third field goal to open the second half after the Seminoles held the Hurricanes at the 2-yard line.
FSU's defense tried to it best to help turn the momentum, forcing three consecutive UM turnovers in the third quarter -- interceptions by cornerbacks Leroy Smith >and Rufus Brown and a fumble recovery by Bryant McFadden. Brown's pick set up Willie Reid's 18-yard touchdown in the third quarter to make it 22-7.
"I thought we had the momentum after my pick and Rufus' pick," said Smith. "I thought we were going to come back. I kept feeling that way until (the end)."
It didn't happen as the Hurricanes upended the Seminoles for the fourth consecutive time to remain a major player in the national championship hunt. FSU was once again left searching for answers, despite another strong defensive performance in sloppy conditions.
"There is no such thing as blame it on the rain. It's natural," Dockett said.
"It's no excuse. We practiced in the rain on Tuesday. They wanted it more than we did, and we fell short. We couldn't execute when we wanted to. We emphasized all week that turnovers could hurt us, giving up the big play. We talked about it all week, but we did the opposite."
FSU coach Bobby Bowden agreed.
"What I told the kids all this week was that what will win the game are turnovers and the kicking game," Bowden said. "We turned the ball over five times and had a punt blocked. That's your story right there.
"The statistics are very even so if you want to tell it like it is, the game came down to turnovers and the kicking game. As much as we talked about taking care of the ball, we turned it over too much.
"Our defense must have played fantastic if they couldn't more points on that board. We would turn the ball over down there and all the would get out of it was three. We would turn it over again and all they would get out of it was three. Our defense just played super."
UM had its share of mistakes as well.
The Hurricanes turned it over a third straight time when Kellen Winslow fumbled at the end of a 39-yard reception, giving FSU possession at the 17. The Seminoles then mounted an 18-play drive that ended on Rix's incompletion on fourth down from the 5.
"For the most part the defense did the job," said cornerback Standford Samuels, who put a thunderous hit on UM receiver Roscoe Parrish in the first half.
"What counts is getting into the end zone, and they weren't able to do it but one time. They got more yards than we liked to allow but we kept them out of the end zone.
"We are still a great team, period. Miami is not a slack team. This is a rivalry game. They are going to go one way or another. I still have total faith in this team. We just didn't execute. Bottom line."