Dolphins fall to Tennessee

All the concerns surrounding the Dolphins heading into the regular season surfaced in ugly fashion, and the result was a 17-7 loss to the Tennessee Titans.<P>

Jay Fiedler got the start at quarterback, but he was replaced at halftime by A.J. Feeley after throwing two interceptions. Feeley wasn't much better, and his interception returned for a touchdown by safety Lamont Thompson in the third quarter may have been the deciding blow as it gave Tennessee a 14-0 lead.

The Dolphins defense, meanwhile, did its best to keep the team in the game but had problems stopping the Tennessee ground game.

The Titans rushed for almost 200 yards and a 52-yard run by Chris Brown in the second quarter set up Tennessee's first touchdown.

Brown didn't play in the second half after sustaining an ankle injury but still finished with 100 yards on the ground. The Dolphins didn't allow a 100-yard rusher in any game last season.

But the problems were most obvious offensively, starting with the quarterbacks, an offensive line that couldn't hold back the Titans pass rush, one horrible coaching decision and a costly instant replay overrule after a Tennessee challenge.

That occurred when the Dolphins faced a third-and-19 from the Tennessee 49-yard line trailing 7-0 in the third quarter. Feeley hit tight end Randy McMichael with a pass just short of the first-down marker and McMichael fumbled immediately after being hit by linebacker Keith Bulluck. Chris Chambers picked up the loose ball and ran it all the way to the 6-yard line.

But after the Titans challenged, the officials ruled that McMichael never had possesssion and it was ruled an incomplete pass, forcing the Dolphins to punt.

But the Dolphins didn't have to punt — and shouldn't have punted — on the first play of the fourth quarter when they faced a fourth-and-1 from the Tennessee 49 trailing 14-0.

The Titans then took the ball at their 21, burned 8:04 off the clock and sealed the deal with a field goal that made it 17-0.

The Dolphins scored a late touchdown on Feeley's 15-yard touchdown pass to McMichael, but the outcome had been decided by then.

When it counted, the Dolphins offense simply was brutal.

The Dolphins didn't get their initial first down of the season until the fourth minute of the second quarter.

That drive eventually reached the Tennessee 20-yard line, but on second-and-10 Fiedler was intercepted in the end zone by Samari Rolle when he tried to hit Marty Booker on a play where he was totally covered.

The Dolphins' next possession, which began with Jeno James recovering a Fiedler fumble on a sack, ended when Fiedler threw a pass right into the hands of Titans cornerback Andre Dyson.

Then came the one major breakdown on defense in the first half as Brown ran through a gaping hole in the middle and sprinted 52 yards to the 2, with a facemask penalty on Antuan Edwards putting the ball on the 1.

After stopping Antowain Smith for a loss on two straight plays, the Dolphins gave Tennessee a first down when Reggie Howard was called for pass interference on third-and-goal from the 4.

On the next play, Steve McNair lofted a pass to wide open tight end Erron Kinney in the back of the end zone and Tennessee took a 7-0 lead into halftime.


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