"We're just not used to teams moving the ball like that on us," said Dolphins cornerback Patrick Surtain.
Surtain and the Miami defense got a quick taste of what was to come as the Rams took the opening kickoff and marched 76 yards in 10 plays, capped off by Warner's 3-yard scoring strike to Ricky Proehl. Warner completed 8 of 8 passes for 68 yards on the drive.
"He's that good, let's face it," said Rams head coach Mike Martz. "People need to start realizing that you don't line up against a defense like that and do what he did."
Despite the quick start by the Rams, quarterback Jay Fiedler and the Miami offense had an answer. On their second possession of the game, Fiedler led the Dolphins downfield and capped off a long drive with a 24-yard scoring strike to James McKnight to tie the game at 7-7.
When Brock Marion partially blocked a Rams punt, the Dolphins had great field position at the Rams 44. Miami drove to the 6 where they faced a third-and-goal, and it was here that the game started to turn. That's when linebacker London Fletcher blitzed untouched and stripped Fiedler of the ball. Dexter McCleon fell on the loose ball 20 yards downfield and the Rams proceeded to drive 70 yards for the go-ahead touchdown that put them ahead for good.
"Every day in practice and meetings we talk about getting turnovers," Fletcher said. "That was a huge play."
"I don't know how they got us. Obviously they gamed us and he came free, and we can't let things like that happen," said tight end Hunter Goodwin. "When you get down in the red zone, you have to capitalize and traditionally we've done that in the past. We're just gonna have to watch film, re-evaluate and all of us are going to need to play better, including myself."
The other backbreaker for Miami came on the final play of the first half. Leading 14-10, the Rams had a fourth-and-goal at the 1 with just seconds left and rolled the dice by going for it. Warner faked a handoff and rolled right but Dolphins defenders were not fooled and Warner was literally in the grasp of linebacker Twan Russell when he somehow managed to get the pass off before being slammed to the turf. On the other end was Faulk in the end zone for the score and a 21-10 halftime lead.
Any life the Dolphins had left disappeared midway through the third quarter when, after Fiedler was picked off at the Rams 1, St. Louis methodically drove 99 yards downfield before Faulk went over from a yard out to make it 28-10 and pretty much end the issue.
"I'll refer to him as Marino," said Dolphins defensive tackle Daryl Gardener of Warner. "Randy Johnson, Dan Marino: He threw nothing but strikes."