2001 GAME-BY-GAME RECAPS

Here's a quick look back at the Dolphins' games of the 2001 season:<P>

THE DOLPHINS GAME BY GAME IN 2001:

PRESEASON

ST. LOUIS 17, MIAMI 10 — The Dolphins score first on Lamar Smith's 2-yard run, but can't find the end zone again and lose when tight end Jeff Robinson catches a 3-yard touchdown pass from Marc Bulger with 9:15 left in the fourth quarter.

MIAMI 17, TAMPA BAY 14 — The Dolphins steal the victory when Mike Quinn hits Robert Baker with a 43-yard Hail Mary pass on the last play of the game. The Dolphins dominate early, taking a 10-0 in the first quarter.

SAN DIEGO 23, MIAMI 20 (OT) — The Dolphins lost when Reggie Hunt returns the overtime kickoff 72 yards and Cedric Oglesby kicks a 33-yard field goal on the next play. Big plays are the story for the Dolphins, who get things going with a 72-yard completion from Jay Fiedler to James McKnight.

GREEN BAY 17, MIAMI 12 — In a steady rain at Lambeau Field, the Dolphins offense can't get into the end zone, settling for four Olindo Mare field goals. The Dolphins lead 12-10 until De'Mond Parker breaks free for a 54-yard run, which sets up his game-winning 4-yard touchdown run with 6:07 left in the fourth quarter.

MINNESOTA 20, MIAMI 7 — The Dolphins jump out to a 7-0 lead, but then lose backup quarterbacks Ray Lucas and Mike Quinn to injuries. The offense manages only one first down in the second half, and Minnesota pulls away for the victory. The Dolphins pull out their starting offense in the first quarter, while Daunte Culpepper, Randy Moss and Cris Carter play until late in the second quarter.

REGULAR SEASON

MIAMI 31, TENNESSEE 23 — Brock Marion sets the tone by returning the opening kickoff 55 yards, and the Dolphins dominate from start to finish to record their 10th consecutive season-opening victory. Lamar Smith scores two touchdowns, including a 65-yard pass play where he took a screen pass from Jay Fiedler to pace the offense. Linebacker Zach Thomas is the star on defense, as he finishes with a team-high nine tackles and returns an interception 34 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown. The Dolphins never trailed in the game, and led 31-14 before the Titans scored twice late to make the outcome look more contested than it actually was.

MIAMI 18, OAKLAND 15 — Jay Fiedler goes from goat to hero when he scrambles for a 2-yard touchdown with five seconds left. The run caps a remarkable 80-yard drive that began with 1:41 left and the Dolphins out of timeouts. Fiedler completed his first four passes on the drive, then hit Dedric Ward for a 9-yard gain on fourth-and-3 to keep the drive — and the Dolphins — alive. Fiedler not only had to overcome two interceptions, including one returned for a go-ahead touchdown, but also a vicious hit late in the fourth quarter that left him groggy for a few seconds. The defense again was outstanding, as the Dolphins held Oakland to 216 total yards and limited future Hall of Famer wide receivers Jerry Rice and Tim Brown to a combined four catches for 27 yards.

ST. LOUIS 42, MIAMI 10 — This one was rather forgettable. Kurt Warner completed 24 of 31 passes for 328 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Rams to a surprisingly easy victory at the Dome at America's Center. The game could have been a lot closer if not for a couple of huge plays in the first half. The first came when the Dolphins were ready to take the lead with a third-and-goal and the score tied 7-7. That's when linebacker London Fletcher came free on a blitz and knocked the ball away from Jay Fiedler. The Rams recovered the fumble and went on to drive 70 yards for a touchdown. The Dolphins were still in the game before the last play of the half. St. Louis was leading 14-10 and decided to go for a touchdown on a fourth-and-goal from the 1. Warner rolled to his right and linebacker Twan Russell quickly got to him. But Warner was able to escape Russell's clutches and then fired a strike into the end zone for a touchdown. The play gave the Rams a 21-10 lead and deflated the Dolphins, who were then outscored 21-0 in the second half.

MIAMI 30, NEW ENGLAND 10 — Lamar Smith broke through with his first 100-yard rushing performance of the season as the Dolphins dominated the Patriots to improve to 3-1. Smith finished with 144 yards rushing on 29 carries, a healthy 5-yard average per carry. He also scored the Dolphins' first touchdown in the first quarter. The Miami defense was dominant, holding New England to 149 total yards and only 12 first downs. The game couldn't have started off worse for the Dolphins, as Jay Fiedler was intercepted by linebacker Mike Vrabel on Miami's first offensive play. The interception set up an Antowain Smith touchdown run that gave the Pats a quick 7-0 lead. But the Dolphins responded with an 80-yard drive that ended with Smith's 7-yard touchdown run. The Dolphins took the lead for good right before halftime when Fiedler hit tight end Jed Weaver in the corner of the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown that gave Miami a 17-10 advantage. The Dolphins added two Olindo Mare field goals in the second half, as well as a defensive touchdown which came when quarterback Tom Brady mishandled a snap and the ball was kicked toward the New England end zone before Jason Taylor scooped it up for the easy score.

N.Y. JETS 21, MIAMI 17 — Unfortunately, it was the same old story for the Dolphins when they traveled to Giants Stadium. Mostly because of four costly turnovers, the Dolphins blew a 17-0 halftime lead as they dropped their seventh consecutive to the Jets. The Dolphins had a chance to pull out the victory in the final minutes after a 26-yard scramble by Jay Fiedler gave them a first-and-goal at the Jets 6-yard line, but Fiedler then made a crucial mistake. The Dolphins called for a first-down pass to Oronde Gadsden, who was running an inside slant. This was a new play for the Dolphins — and now they should retire it. The Dolphins had anticipated the safety biting outside on a pump fake, but he never made and that left Gadsden double-covered as he cut across the middle. Instead of throwing the ball away or running, Fiedler tried to hit Gadsden anyway. The ball was deflected high into the air and it landed softly into the arms of linebacker Marvin Jones to end the threat. The Dolphins had one final chance after holding the Jets without a first down, but Fiedler's deep pass from the Miami 46 with 33 seconds left was intercepted by safety Victor Green. The Dolphins took a big lead with an overwhelming performance in the first half that includes a touchdown pass to Lamar Smith, a touchdown run by rookie Travis Minor and an Olindo Mare field goal. But the Jets rallied with three second-half touchdowns, the second of which came immediately after Smith's second fumble of the game.

MIAMI 24, SEATTLE 20 — The Dolphins improve to 4-2 in a weird game that features four more Miami turnovers, some highly questionable calls by the officials, and an atrocious decision by Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren. The Dolphins clinch the victory when Jay Fiedler scrambles for a 16-yard gain on a third-and-13 with under two minutes left. That followed Holmgren's strange decision to go for a field goal with Seattle facing a fourth-and-4 at the Miami 10-yard line with two minutes remaining. That Rian Lindell badly hooked the kick didn't make the decision any less strange. The Dolphins got the game-winning touchdown on a 39-yard connection between Jay Fiedler and former Seahawks wide receiver James McKnight. The Dolphins also got touchdowns from Lamar Smith (on a play the Dolphins had to challenge with instant replay) and Fiedler (who fumbled as he neared the goal line, with officials ruling he had reached the goal line before losing the ball). But the Dolphins also turned the ball over four times, twice on Fiedler interceptions and on fumbles by McKnight and punt returner Jeff Ogden. The bottom line is that the Dolphins made just enough plays to leave Seattle with a victory.

MIAMI 23, CAROLINA 6 — Jay Fiedler passed for a season-high 287 yards and a touchdown and Patrick Surtain returned an interception 29 yards for a touchdown as the Dolphins handled the struggling Panthers at Pro Player Stadium. Surtain's touchdown, the first in his NFL career, gave the Dolphins a 10-3 second-quarter lead they would never relinquish. Carolina kept it close in the second half until they decided to go for a first down on a fourth-and-2 from the Miami 40 with the score 13-6. The Dolphins broke up a pass and then marched 60 yards for a touchdown — a 5-yard pass from Fiedler to fullback Rob Konrad — that basically put the game away. The Dolphins held Carolina to 281 total yards and recorded four sacks.

MIAMI 27, INDIANAPOLIS 24 — Rookie Chris Chambers stole the show on offense and the defense came up with several big plays down the stretch as the Dolphins came away with their fourth consecutive victory at the RCA Dome. Chambers' three catches included a 74-yard touchdown in the second quarter and a game-winning touchdown reception early in the fourth quarter. The game-winner came seven plays after Jason Taylor recovered a Dominic Rhodes fumble in Dolphins territory. Rhodes fumbled after taking a handoff from backup quarterback Mark Rypien, who had to enter the game after a hit from Lorenzo Bromell sent Peyton Manning to the sideline with a broken jaw. Manning returned for the Colts' last two series, but couldn't put points on the scoreboard. The next-to-last series was stopped when Patrick Surtain got away with a hold on Marvin Harrison on a third-down pass and the last ended after a Taylor sack left the Colts in a fourth-and-21 and Manning's desperation pass fell incomplete. Harrison had tremendous success earlier in the game, as he finished with nine catches for 174 yards and all three Indianapolis touchdowns. The Dolphins' other touchdown came when rookie Travis Minor raced 56 yards down the sideline in the first quarter. The Dolphins lost cornerback Sam Madison early in the second quarter when he sustained a shoulder injury while making an interception. It was one of three takeaways for the Dolphins defense, which also got the Taylor fumble recovery and an interception by Zach Thomas.

N.Y. JETS 24, MIAMI 0 — The losing streak against the Jets reached eight games as New York returned two interceptions for touchdowns to cruise to the easy victory at Pro Player Stadium. In addition to turning the ball over five times, the Dolphins offense also failed to drive inside the Jets 20-yard line the entire game. The tone was set early, as James McKnight let a short Jay Fiedler hit his facemask, it bounced into the air, and cornerback Aaron Glenn snatched the ball out of mid-air before racing 60 yards for a touchdown. The Dolphins trailed 14-0 in the third quarter when they faced a fourth-and-2 at the Jets 32-yard line. Fiedler rolled right and then tried to float a pass over safety Victor Green. But Green batted the ball into the air, grabbed the deflection and raced 62 yards for a back-breaking touchdown. The Dolphins defense, meanwhile, held the Jets offense in check but couldn't produce any takeaways.

MIAMI 34, BUFFALO 27 — Jay Fiedler's passing and a key fumble recovery helped the Dophins score 17 points in the last four minutes as they rallied from a 27-17 deficit at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Fiedler threw three fourth-quarter touchdown passes, the last a 32-yarder to rookie Chris Chambers. The touchdown came a few plays after Patrick Surtain recovere a Nate Clements fumble on the kickoff that followed Olindo Mare's game-tying field goal. The comeback began with another touchdown pass from Fiedler to Chambers, who showed tremendous athletic ability on both scores. Fiedler's other touchdown pass was to tight end Jed Weaver, and it brought the Dolphins to within 21-17 early in the fourth quarter. But Buffalo responded with Travis Henry's touchdown run to seemingly regain the momentum. But Jake Arians missed the extra point, and it seemed to give Miami some life. All was not peachy for the Dolphins, who started the game without center Tim Ruddy before watching guard Mark Dixon go down with a season-ending leg injury. In addition, the defense turned in one of its worst performances of the season, allowing backup QB Alex Van Pelt to pass for over 300 yards. The defense also couldn't contain Eric Moulds, who had six catches for 196, with touchdowns of 80 and 54 yards.

MIAMI 21, DENVER 10 — Totally inept on offense for the first three quarters, the Dolphins exploded for three touchdowns in a span of just over five minutes. The barrage was highlighted by a couple of key turnovers, including an interception returned 56 yards for a touchdown by defensive end Kenny Mixon. The score gave the Dolphins a 14-10 lead, and was followed by a Denver fumble on the ensuing kickoff. After Scott Galyon recovered the loose ball at the Broncos 7-yard line, the Dolphins needed two plays to extend their lead on a Lamar Smith 1-yard run. The comeback had begun with Jay Fiedler's 11-yard touchdown pass on the second play of the fourth quarter. The score capped a 58-yard drive for the Dolphins; they managed only 160 yards the rest of the game. But the defense, despite having problems with the Denver running game, kept the Dolphins in it by keeping the Broncos out of the end zone until the second half.

MIAMI 41, INDIANAPOLIS 6 — In their only Monday night appearance of the season, the Dolphins put on a show in front of a national television audience. Jay Fiedler passed for three touchdowns, including two to rookie Chris Chambers, and ran for another to lead the offensive explosion, while safety Brock Marion stole the show on defense. Marion came up with two interceptions, both setting up touchdowns, and a fumble recovery on a play where he stripped tight end Ken Dilger of the ball. Defensive end Jason Taylor also had an interception, his pick coming on a pass that was tipped at the line of scrimmage by Tim Bowens. Lamar Smith, who hadn't rushed for more than 53 yards in any of the previous seven games, finally found some running room and finished with 107 yards on 28 carries. Fullback Rob Konrad scored the first rushing touchdown of his career to close the scoring in the final minute, and Ray Lucas scored on a 2-yard on his only play of the game. It was that kind of night for the Dolphins, who recorded their most lopsided victory since a 52-14 rout of the Jets in the 1995 opener. Coach Dave Wannstedt had challenged the Dolphins' Pro Bowl players before the game to show the country why they had been selected to the all-star contest; on this night, the whole team played like a Pro Bowl squad.

SAN FRANCISCO 21, MIAMI 0 — From a wonderful performance to a dismal effort. The Dolphins hardly looked like a 9-3 team in a game where the less said, the better. The second shutout loss of the season marked the first time since 1970 that had happened to Miami. The Dolphins never really threatened in the game, managing only 78 yards through the first three quarters. The defense, meanwhile, had problem stopping the 49ers running game, which compiled 161 yards, including 103 by Garrison Hearst. The low point of the game came when San Francisco put together a 17-play, 98-yard drive that consumed over 11 minutes and produced a 21-0 lead late in the third quarter. The Dolphins stopped the 49ers on three plays to start the game, but Jay Fiedler overthrew James McKnight on a deep pattern and was interception. San Francisco marched 56 yards for a touchdown and Fiedler overthrew a wide open Chris Chambers deep down the middle on the next possession. After a Miami punt, the 49ers marched 64 yards and made it 14-0 on a TD pass from Jeff Garcia to Eric Johnson. It wouldn't get any better from the Dolphins, who never got inside the San Francisco 40-yard line in the first three quarters.

NEW ENGLAND 20, MIAMI 13 — In a key AFC East battle, the Dolphins couldn't overcome a 20-0 deficit and three fumbles in the last regular season game at Foxboro Stadium. The rushing defense also was a culprit in the loss, as the Dolphins allowed New England to gain 196 yards on the ground. Despite all their problems, the Dolphins had a chance until Fred Coleman recovered Olindo Mare's onside kick with 1:26 left. The Dolphins had just scored their only touchdown of the day on Jay Fiedler's 10-yard pass to Jeff Ogden. But the damage was done earlier in the second half when Lamar Smith was stuffed on fourth-and-1 at the New England 22-yard line in the third quarter and when Smith fumbled at the Patriots 2-yard line with just under nine minutes left in regulation. A fumble by tight end Jed Weaver was the first big play of the game, with New England driving 52 yards after the turnover to take a 7-0 lead. A 23-yard pass from halfback Kevin Faulk to quarterback Tom Brady on third-and-1 was the big play of the drive. A 44-yard run by Antowain Smith on New England's next possession set up a 23-yard touchdown pass from Brady to running back Patrick Pass, who found himself all alone near the sideline after the Dolphins were caught in a blitz. Another fumble, this one by Ed Perry on a kickoff, set up a New England field goal, which made the score 20-0. Fiedler threw for a career-high 320 yards as he tried to bring the Dolphins back, but too many mistakes and too little run defense proved too much to overcome.

MIAMI 21, ATLANTA 14 — Two goal-line stands proved the difference as the Dolphins clinched a playoff spot with a tougher-than-should-have-been victory. The last defensive stand came with after the two-minute warning and ended when Ernest Grant led a charge that stuffed fullback Bob Christian for no gain on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line. The Dolphins got the benefit of a rather questionable ruling on the previous play to keep their lead. Christian appeared to stretch the ball over the goal line on third-and-goal, but officials ruled him down inside the 1-yard line. The play was reviewed, but the official determined there was not enough evidence to overturn the call. The Dolphins found themselves in this precarious position in the first place because their offense did nothing in the second half, and also because they had a hard time containing rookie quarterback Michael Vick, who had entered the game last in the first half for the injured Chris Chandler. The defense appeared to seal the victory with Miami leading 21-7 midway through the fourth quarter after Patrick Surtain intercepted Vick near the goal line, but Surtain was stripped from behind as he was nearing midfield and Atlanta recovered. A 48-yard completion from Vick to Shawn Jefferson set up Atlanta's second touchdown. The Dolphins was awful all day except for the last four minutes of the second quarter. Brock Marion's 26-yard interception return for a touchdown had given Miami its points in a 7-7 game before Jay Fiedler went to work. He directed a 67-yard drive that culminated in a 17-yard touchdown pass to Travis Minor with 1:02 left in the first half. After Lorenzo Bromell forced a Vick fumble that Jason Taylor recovered, Fiedler threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Oronde Gadsden to give Miami a 21-7 halftime lead.

MIAMI 34, BUFFALO 7 — As the game began, the Dolphins knew their hopes of winning the AFC East title had disappeared because New England was crushing Carolina. But the Dolphins still needed the victory to secure the No. 4 seed and at least one home game in the playoffs. That proved no problem as the Dolphins dominated a Buffalo team that finished the season with a 3-13 record. Lamar Smith enjoyed his best performance of the season as he rushed for 158 yards on 30 carries and scored the first touchdown of the game on a gutsy 6-yard run up the middle. With Oronde Gadsden sidelined because of a hamstring injury and Chris Chambers leaving the game after the first quarter because of a sore ankle, the Dolphins passing game was shorthanded, but it wasn't needed because of the way Miami was able to run the ball. Jay Fiedler passed for only 110 yards and a touchdown, but he did not throw an interception and he scored on a nifty 18-yard scramble in the fourth quarter. Fiedler's score followed his 16-yard TD pass to James McKnight five minutes earlier and helped turn a 13-7 lead into a 27-7 cushion. The game never should have been that close, but the Dolphins managed only a 13-0 halftime lead despite outgaining Buffalo 154-13 in the first two quarters. Safety Brock Marion ended the game — and the regular season — in spectacular fashion as he returned an interception 100 yards for a touchdown on the last play.

PLAYOFFS

BALTIMORE 20, MIAMI 3 — For the fifth consecutive season, the Dolphins were bounced out of the playoffs unceremoniously, as they saw their offense totally shut down by the Ravens and their defense manhandled. Missing star rookie wide receiver Chris Chambers, the Dolphins couldn't amount a passing game to compensate for their struggling running attack. The result was a Miami offense that produced only 151 total yards. The only Dolphins score came on a 33-yard field goal by Olindo Mare that was set up by Tommy Hendricks' fumble recovery on the opening kickoff. The Dolphins couldn't get a first down after the turnover, setting the tone for the offense. Three plays symbolized the offensive struggles on this day — Lamar Smith being stopped just short of a first down on a third-and-1 early in the third quarter; Oronde Gadsden being called for illegal procedure as the Dolphins were lining up on a fourth-and-1 from the Baltimore 48 in the third quarter; and James McKnight letting a Jay Fiedler bomb inside the Baltimore 5-yard line bounce off his shoulder pad and into the arms of Ravens cornerback Duane Starks to ended all comeback hopes in the fourth quarter. The defense, meanwhile, couldn't stop a mediocre Balimore running game that paved the way for drives of 90 and 99 yards. The Ravens finished with 226 yards on the ground and controlled the ball for almost 38 minutes. After Mare's field goal, Baltimore took the lead when Terry Allen capped the 90-yard drive with a 4-yard TD run early in the second quarter. The lead increased to 14-3 late in the third quarter when Elvis Grbac capped the 99-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Travis Taylor. The big play of the drive came when Baltimore faced a third-and-1 from its own 10-yard and Grbac connected with Taylor on a 45-yard bomb to the Miami 45-yard line. Matt Stover added two fourth-quarter field goals for Baltimore, but by then the damage already had been done.


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