It was a victory the Dolphins needed in the worst way. So from that standpoint what happened last Sunday in Seattle was a success. But it wasn't exactly a confidence-builder, either.<P>Not with four turnovers, nine penalties and a running game that saw Lamar Smith average 1.7 yards on 21 carries.

"We've got to get our act cleaned up to reach the potential of what we can do as a team," said Coach Dave Wannstedt.

You want positives? The passing game produced several big plays, including the game-winning 39-yard touchdown from Jay Fiedler to James McKnight. The pass rush registered four sacks and harassed quarterback Matt Hasselbeck most of the game.

And in the fourth quarter, with the game on the line, the defense made enough big plays and Fiedler converted a huge third down with a 16-yard run to clinch the victory.

"We had to have this win," said Wannstedt. "Had to."

The victory leaves the Dolphins in first place in the AFC East with a 4-2 record heading into what should be an easy home game Sunday against Carolina. Then things get interesting in a hurry with a game at Indy followed by a rematch against the Jets at Pro Player Stadium.

"We fight ourselves more than anyone else fights us," said wide receiver Oronde Gadsden.

The Dolphins got a big assist on a highly questionable decision from Seattle coach Mike Holmgren at the two-minute warning. On fourth-and-4 from the Dolphins 10-yard line, with Seattle trailing 24-20, Holmgren chose to go for the field goal to cut the lead to one.

But it all blew up in Holmgren's face. Rian Lindell badly hooked the kick and the Dolphins got the ball back and ran out the clock.

"I thought in that situation," said Holmgren, "we could kick the field goal, kick off to them, get the ball back and kick the field goal to win it. But to do that, you have to kick the first field goal."

Said Wannstedt, "Yeah, I was surprised. I don't know what the thinking was there."

It was a head-scratching type of game all the way around. The officials clearly botched a non-fumble by the Seahawks early in the game after replays showed that running back Shawn Alexander did not lose the ball until his knee was down. The Dolphins had to appeal to instant replay to get a touchdown run from Smith and a Fiedler fumble into the end zone should have gone down as a recovery by Travis Minor. Instead, Fiedler was credited with the score.

"It seems like bizarre things always happen to us," said cornerback Patrick Surtain.

The Dolphins led 10-0, then trailed 17-10 and 20-17 before pulling the game out with that Fiedler-to-McKnight pass.

"We had an off day," said linebacker Zach Thomas. "That would have been a long trip back if we had lost."

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