DEFENSE SAVES THE DAY

It's getting to be a recurring theme for the Dolphins. The offense struggles, but the defense comes up with a big performance and the end result is a victory. The formula was taken to a different level on Sunday when the Dolphins beat Jacksonville 24-10 at ALLTEL Stadium.

The Dolphins were dreadful on offense, with the offensive line getting handled, passes being dropped, Jay Fiedler missing throws and penalty flags flying everywhere.

But the defense was sensational, with a big fourth-down stop, a handful of sacks and most importantly five takeaways, including a game-clinching 29-yard interception returned for a touchdown by Sam Madison.

The defensive effort was even more impressive when you consider that both Junior Seau (hamstring) and Tim Bowens (hand) missed the game because of injuries.

"We got lucky at some point," said offensive tackle Todd Wade. "We have to thank the defense for winning the game for us. I'm tired of having to thank the defense for winning the game for us."

This was a difficult battle for the Dolphins, who are now 3-0 on the road and were able to maintain their half-game lead in the AFC East following New England's victory over the Giants.

The Dolphins looked like they were going to dominate this game after Madison recovered a Fred Taylor on the first series of the game and they cashed in the turnover with a Ricky Williams 13-yard touchdown run.

The lead grew to 10-0 after defensive tackle Jeff Zgonina intercepted a Byron Leftwich pass that was tipped by Jason Taylor.

But the offense continued to self-destruct while Jacksonville mounted enough offense to tie the game at 10-10.

The game-winning score came in the fourth quarter on a third-and-goal from the 6 when Randy McMichael picked up an Obafemi Ayanbadejo fumble at the 3-yard line and strolled into the end zone.

The Dolphins then stopped the Jaguars after they had a first-and-goal from the 10 and Madison later clinched the victory with his second pick of the game.


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