GAME NO. 16, NEW ENGLAND 27, MIAMI 24 (OT) — The Dolphins' season ended in heartbreak when Adam Vinatieri kicked a 35-yard field goal 2:03 into overtime and then the New York Jets beat Green Bay later that afternoon to eliminate Miami from playoff contention. The Dolphins squandered leads of 14-0, 21-7 and 24-13 during the game, letting the Patriots score 11 points in the final three minutes of the fourth quarter. The Dolphins made one mistake after another in those final minutes to let their lead — and season — slip away. The first was a pass interference penalty, albeit highly questionable, on Jamar Fletcher that gave New England a first-and-goal at the 3-yard line. After a touchdown and two-point conversion cut Miami's lead to 24-21, the Dolphins wrongly assumed New England was going to go for an onside kick with 2:49 left and three timeouts remaining. But the Pats kicked deep, and Travis Minor was tackled at the 4-yard line after picking it up at the 1. A 23-yard punt by Mark Royals then put New England in position to tie the game without even needing a first down. The final mistake was Olindo Mare sending the overtime kickoff out of bounds, giving New England the ball at its 40-yard line. The loss overshadowed another great performance by Ricky Williams, who rushed for 185 yards and two touchdowns. The 185 yards helped Williams win the NFL rushing title with 1,853 yards, the eighth-best season in NFL history.
GAME NO. 15, MINNESOTA 20, MIAMI 17 — The Dolphins missed out on a chance to possibly wrap up the AFC East title by losing to a Vikings team that came in with a 4-10 record. After taking a 7-3 lead at halftime, the Dolphins defense simply had no answers in the second half for the Minnesota offense, which scored two touchdowns and a field goal on its three possessions. The last score was 43-year-old Gary Anderson's game-winning 53-yard field goal, which a line drive that barely made it inside the right goal post. The kick came a few plays after Daunte Culpepper gained 3 yards on a fourth-and-2. Minnesota initially was going to punt, but after calling a timeout Vikings coach Mike Tice decided to go for the first down. The Dolphins had tied the score with about six minutes left on an Olindo Mare field goal, one play after Cris Carter dropped a potential go-ahead touchdown pass in the end zone. The Dolphins defense came up with three takeaways in the first half, but lost out on a chance for two others when both David Bowens and Larry Chester failed to come up with the loose after two Culpepper fumbles. The Dolphins also hurt themselves offensively with an interception thrown by Jay Fiedler, a James McKnight fumble, a dropped third-down pass by Dedric Ward, and a personal foul penalty on Randy McMichael that turned a third-and-1 into a third-and-16. Fiedler threw touchdown passes of 59 yards to Chris Chambers and 3 yards to Jed Weaver to account for the rest of the Dolphins scoring.
GAME NO. 14, MIAMI 23, OAKLAND 17 — The Dolphins tied the Raiders for best record in the AFC with their fifth consecutive regular season victory in the series. The defense was the big story on this day, starting with Jason Taylor's two sacks on the first possession of the game and ending with Patrick Surtain's game-clinching interception with less than two minutes left. Ricky Williams rushed for over 100 yards again, but it was through the air that the Dolphins offense did the most damage. Jay Fiedler hit Chris Chambers with a 40-yard pass on the Dolphins' first offensive play of the game, setting the tone for Chambers's big day. Chambers finished with seven catches for a career-high 138 yards. The Dolphins took a 17-6 lead into halftime thanks to Cris Carter's one-handed grab in the back of the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown and Travis Minor's 4-yard run while Williams was getting a breather on the sideline. After the Raiders cut the lead to 20-17 with a touchdown and a two-point conversion in the first minute of the fourth quarter, the Dolphins defense stiffened again. Taylor finished with three sacks to grab the NFL lead in that department, while Adewale Ogunleye and Jay Williams also sacked Rich Gannon. A bonus in the victory was the fact that the Dolphins defense held Gannon, who came into the game on pace to break Dan Marino's single-season passing yardage record, to only 204 yards. That left Gannon needing to average 338 yards in his last two games to beat Marino's mark. Ed Perry recovered a fumble on a punt return to set up Olindo Mare's third field goal of the day.
GAME NO. 13, MIAMI 27, CHICAGO 9 — Ricky Williams did it again, but this time the Dolphins didn't waste his effort. Williams became the third player in NFL history to rush for at least 200 yards in consecutive games, finishing with 216 yards and a couple of touchdowns. Included in Williams' total was a career-long 63-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, as well as a 15-yard TD run in the second quarter. Thanks to Williams' score, the Dolphins grabbed a 14-0 halftime lead but it could have been much worse for Chicago considering the Dolphins outgained the Bears 293-37 in the first half. A couple of fumbles — by James McKnight and Williams — stopped a couple of Dolphins drives, but the defense also came up with four turnovers while shutting down an anemic Chicago offense. Brock Marion, Jamar Fletcher and Jermaine Haley all recorded inteceptions, while Adewale Ogunleye forced and recovered a fumble while sacking Bears backup quarterback Chris Chandler. Jason Taylor also had a sack, tying a team record with a sack in six consecutive games. Jay Fiedler started at quarterback for the first time since Oct. 13 and got the Dolphins on the board early with a 5-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jed Weaver. Fiedler finished the game 15-for-29 for 196 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Chicago didn't reach the end zone until the final minute when the game already had been decided.
GAME NO. 12, BUFFALO 38, MIAMI 21 — Ricky Williams had the best rushing day in franchise history, but it wasn't enough to prevent the Bills from completing a season sweep of the Dolphins. As was the case in the first meeting, turnovers played a big role as Miami turned the ball over three times on fumbles by Ray Lucas and Randy McMichael and an interception by Jay Fiedler, who returned to action after Lucas was injured. Unlike the first meeting, however, the Bills offense shredded the Dolphins defense thanks to several big plays, among them a 73-yard touchdown pass from Drew Bledsoe to Peerless Price, a 57-yard TD pass from Bledsoe to Eric Moulds and another 47-yard completion to Moulds that set up the final touchdown of the game. For the Dolphins, the big story was Williams, who scored on a 45-yard run the first time he touched the ball and later added a career-best 55-yard TD run. While rushing for a team-record 228 yards, Williams also broke Delvin Williams' 24-year-old record for most rushing yards in a season. Williams' first touchdown and a 1-yard TD pass to Jed Weaver gave Miami a quick 14-3 lead, but Buffalo took the lead into halftime with two touchdowns late in the second quarter. The Dolphins regained the lead midway through the third quarter on Williams' second touchdown, but things fell apart after that.
GAME NO. 11, MIAMI 30, SAN DIEGO 3 — The Dolphins dominated from start to finish in this battle of AFC playoff contenders. The tone was set early when Zach Thomas picked off a Drew Brees pass on the third play of the game. That led to an Olindo Mare field goal and a 3-0 lead. After San Diego tied the game, the Dolphins took charge with a couple of touchdown drives in the first half. The first was capped by a 20-yard touchdown pass from Ray Lucas to James McKnight, and the second ended with Ricky Williams' 1-yard touchdown dive. Williams added a 12-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. He finished the game with 143 yards rushing, surpassing the 1,000-yard mark for the season. McKnight set up the final score, Mare's third field goal, with a 77-yard catch and run on the last play of the third quarter. The defense shut down LaDainian Tomlinson, holding him to 45 yards, and also sacked Drew Brees three times.
GAME NO. 10, MIAMI 26, BALTIMORE 7 — The Dolphins used the same formula (good defense, good running game, no turnovers) that produced such good results early in the season to snap their three-game losing streak. Ray Lucas easily had his best game as a starter for the Dolphins, as he completed 18 of 26 passes for 221 yards and scored a rushing touchdown. Most importantly, he did not commit any turnovers. Ricky Williams scored the other two touchdowns and tied a team record with his fifth 100-yard rushing performance of the season. But this game, more than anything else, was won on defense. The Dolphins finished the game with a whopping seven sacks, their highest total since a 1998 game at Oakland. Adewale Ogunleye led the way with 2.5 sacks. Patrick Surtain came up with his fifth interception of the season for the game's only turnover. The Dolphins took the lead for good in the second quarter when Lucas capped a 61-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown drive that gave Miami a 14-7 lead.
GAME NO. 9, N.Y. JETS 13, MIAMI 10 — The Dolphins losing streak reached three games with a frustrating loss marked by a couple of key turnovers and a couple of questionable calls that went against the Dolphins. The Dolphins marched to the Jets 38-yard line after John Hall kicked a field goal with 2:17 left, but a sack and two incompletions ended their hopes. It was the third time the Dolphins had reached New York territory in the fourth quarter only to come away without any points. The Dolphins handed the Jets a 7-0 lead in the first quarter when Ray Lucas botched a handoff to Robert Edwards and the Jets recovered at the Dolphins 6-yard line, setting up Curtis Martin's 6-yard TD run. The Dolphins also lost a great scoring opportunity on their first drive of the second half when Ricky Williams fumbled at the Jets 2-yard line. The Dolphins challenged the ruling on the field, but replays didn't clearly indicate whether Williams' knee was down before he fumbled. But official Larry Nemmers did reverse an earlier touchdown catch by Chris Chambers, saying that although Chambers got both feet down in the end zone with possession he did not maintain control of the ball after landing out of bounds. The negated touchdown cost Miami four points when they were forced to settle for a field goal. Still, the Dolphins were able to tie the game at 10-10 in the third quarter on Lucas' 4-yard touchdown pass to Rob Konrad. But the Jets used a 42-yard pass from Chad Pennington to Laveranues Coles — the only major breakdown on defense all game — to set up the game-winning kick.
GAME NO. 8, GREEN BAY 24, MIAMI 10 — Turnovers once again doomed the Dolphins as they dropped a Monday night battle at Lambeau Field. This time, the Dolphins turned the ball over four times, on fumbles by Cris Carter and Rob Konrad and two interceptions by Ray Lucas, including one that was returned 89 yards for a touchdown by Packers safety Darren Sharper. That score gave Green Bay a 24-0 lead on the last play of the fourth quarter and ended any suspense that remained. The Packers actually took charge in the first half thanks to a couple of well-executed, poorly defensed screen passes. The first converted a third-and-18 and was followed shortly thereafter by Ahman Green's 1-yard touchdown run. The second screen pass was a 23-yard touchdown connection between Brett Favre and Green in the final minute of the first half. The Dolphins, who finally scored a touchdown on Lucas' 1-yard sneak after the two-minute warning, lost fumbles after crossing midfield on their first two drives in a scoreless game.
GAME NO. 7, BUFFALO 23, MIAMI 10 — In his first start at quarterback for the Dolphins, Ray Lucas went through a nightmare afternoon as his four interceptions and two fumbles played a major role in the Dolphins suffering their first home loss of the season. Lucas, who said afterward he single-handedly cost the Dolphins the game, started well enough, throwing a touchdown pass to rookie tight end Randy McMichael on Miami's first possession. But it was all downhill from there. The trouble began when Lucas was drilled from behind as he was about to hand off to Dedric Ward on a reverse. Lucas fumbled on the play, which came immediately after Brock Marion stopped punter Brian Moorman on a fake punt, and sustained a shoulder injury. Lucas came back on Miami's next possession, but threw his first interception on a third-and-4 from the Buffalo 21-yard line. Two plays later, Drew Bledsoe connected with Eric Moulds, who sped past Sam Madison, for a 70-yard touchdown pass. After Olindo Mare tied the game at 10-10 with a 42-yard field goal, Lucas threw his second interception, and that one was returned 29 yards for a touchdown by cornerback Nate Clements, who finished the game with three picks. With the exception of the one bomb, the Dolphins defense held Bledsoe in check, but allowed Travis Henry to rush for 132 yards. But the real problem on this day was Lucas, who threw his third and fourth interceptions in the second half.
GAME NO. 6, MIAMI 24, DENVER 22 — In what may have been the most exciting regular season game in Dolphins history, Olindo Mare kicked a 53-yard field goal with six seconds left to provide the winning margin. The kick came only 39 seconds after Denver's Jason Elam nailed a 55-yarder to give the Broncos a 22-21 lead. It's believed to be the first time two field goals of 50 yards or more have been kicked in the final minute. Mare's game-winner was set up by a 22-yard connection between Dedric Ward and Jay Fiedler, who played the last drive with a broken thumb on his throwing hand. Fiedler's pass first went through the hands of Denver linebacker John Mobley before getting to Ward, who then tumbled forward to the Broncos 35-yard line. Mare's kick capped a wild fourth quarter during which the teams combined for 27 points. Miami appeared to have control of the game when Patrick Surtain returned an interception 40 yards for a touchdown that made the score 21-12 with under nine minutes left. But Denver rallied for 10 points in the last five minutes to set the stage for Mare's heroics. The first three quarters featured a lot of defense, with Denver stuffing Ricky Williams most of the night and the Dolphins coming up with several big plays. Among those were interceptions by Surtain and Sam Madison, and a fumble forced by Jason Taylor and recovered by Larry Chester at the Miami 1-yard line. Denver dominated the game statistically, but the Dolphins defense was able to hold the Broncos to only one touchdown in five trips inside the 20-yard line. The game was marred by a helmet-to-helmet hit by safety Kenoy Kennedy on Dolphins wideout Chris Chambers, who left the game with a concussion.
GAME NO. 5, MIAMI 26, NEW ENGLAND 13 — The Dolphins took sole possession of first place in the AFC East by dominating the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots at Pro Player Stadium. The Dolphins took control of the game in the first half as they jumped out to a 16-0 lead, and never led by less than 10 points in the second half. Defensive end Jason Taylor sacked Tom Brady on New England's first two drives, and the second sack forced a fumble that was recovered by Adewale Ogunleye and set up the first touchdown of the game, Jay Fiedler's 8-yard scramble on third-and-goal. A Patrick Surtain interception set up the Dolphins' second touchdown, a 9-yard pass from Fiedler to Chris Chambers in the back of the end zone. Olindo Mare's field goal late in the first half made it 16-0. The Patriots turned a Ricky Williams fumble into a touchdown to close the gap to 16-6 and almost came up with another turnover when Dedric Ward muffed a punt. But Ray Green beat a couple of Patriots players to the ball. The Dolphins then marched for a touchdown (a 1-yard pass from Fiedler to rookie tight end Randy McMichael) to basically put the game out of reach. New England tacked on a late touchdown for the final margin. Williams set a Dolphins regular season record with 36 carries and he grinded out 106 tough yards, his fourth 100-yard game of the season. More importantly, he helped the Dolphins control the ball for a whopping 39:59.
GAME NO. 4, KANSAS CITY 48, MIAMI 30 — The Dolphins' joyride abruptly ended as the defense was battered for five touchdown passes from quarterback Trent Green, three of which went to Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez. The Dolphins came into the game looking to stop 2001 NFL rushing champion Priest Holmes, and they succeeded in that respect, holding him to only 52 yards on 23 carries. But they had no answer for Green, who not only threw for 328 yards but also had three scrambled for 48 yards. The Dolphins offense put up some decent numbers of its own, but couldn't overcome five turnovers, including three Jay Fiedler interceptions in the fourth quarter, or the failure to score touchdowns on two second-quarter drives that produced first-and-goal opportunities. The Dolphins took a quick 7-0 lead on Fielder's 1-yard quarterback sneak, but Kansas City answered with an 80-yard that was capped by Green's first TD pass to Gonzalez. Ricky Williams fumbled on the Dolphins' next offensive play and the turnover set up a Kansas City field goal. After the Dolphins tied the game with an Olindo Mare field goal, the Chiefs took the lead for good when Holmes had his one successful carry of the day, a 25-yard touchdown run. The Dolphins trailed only 38-30 with 10 minutes left when they took possession of the ball, but things quickly unrivaled. Fiedler was picked off, setting up a Morten Andersen field goal; Fiedler was picked off again, setting up a Green TD pass to Billy Baber; and Fiedler was intercepted yet again for the final blow.
GAME NO. 3, MIAMI 30, NEW YORK JETS 3 — The losing streak against the rival Jets was finally stopped at eight, as the Dolphins used strong defense and the running of Ricky Williams to take out four years of frustration. Williams rushed for 151 yards, becoming the first Dolphins back ever to gain 100 yards or more in three consecutive games. He punctuated his performance with a 53-yard touchdown run that gave Miami a 23-3 lead in the fourth quarter. Not long after, Jason Taylor forced and recovered a fumble while sacking Vinny Testaverde, setting up a 5-yard TD run by Travis Minor that closed out the scoring. The Taylor fumble was one of four turnovers forced by the Dolphins defense, which held New York to under 200 yards and sacked Testaverde three times. The Dolphins took the lead when Olindo Mare kicked a 53-yard field goal and made it 10-0 after a Shawn Wooden interception set up Jay Fiedler's short touchdown pass to rookie tight end Randy McMichael. The Dolphins led 13-3 until they broke the game open in the fourth quarter, as their running game began to wear down the Jets defense. Miami rushed for 111 yards in the fourth quarter alone, almost doubling the Jets' total for the entire game.
GAME NO. 2, MIAMI 21, INDIANAPOLIS 13 — Safety Brock Marion knocked away Peyton Manning's pass in the end zone on the final play of the game to help the Dolphins hold off a Colts second-half comeback. The Dolphins appeared headed for an easy victory after taking a 21-3 halftime lead on the strength of touchdowns by Jay Fiedler, Rob Konrad and Ricky Williams, but the Colts got back into the contest behind the passing of Manning and the running of Edgerrin James. Manning's final pass came after he had spiked the ball to stop the clock with two seconds left after the Colts have moved to the Dolphins 6-yard line. The Dolphins also thwarted another major Indy threat in the third quarter when they stopped James on four consecutive running plays from inside the 2-yard line. The fourth-down stop was credited to backup linebacker Tommy Hendricks, who got help from Zach Thomas and Marion. The Dolphins offense was unstoppable in the first half, scoring touchdowns on three of its four possessions, not counting a couple of kneel-downs in the final minute. Williams again led the offense, as he rushed for 132 yards and set up his 10-yard touchdown reception by taking a screen pass 52 yards late in the first half.
GAME NO. 1, MIAMI 49, DETROIT 21 — The Dolphins opened the regular season in style by blistering the lowly Lions to the tune of 389 total yards and 27 first downs. The first down total is three more than the Dolphins managed in any game last season. Ricky Williams rushed for 111 yards and two touchdowns to lead the offense, but there were contributions from several different sources. Robert Edwards scored twice (one catch, one run) and Jay Fiedler also threw touchdown passes to rookie tight end Randy McMichael and second-year wide receiv er Chris Chambers. The Dolphins also got a touchdown on special teams when a Mark Royals hit the leg of Lions DB Chris Cash at the 7-yard line and rolled into the end zone, where it was picked up by Trent Gamble. The Dolphins defense played well but allowed touchdowns after the team had built leads of 21-0, 35-7 and 49-14. The game pretty much was over at halftime after the Dolphins had taken a 28-7 lead, the last score coming on Fiedler's 9-yard pass to Chambers in the final 10 seconds of the half.
PRESEASON GAME NO. 4, MIAMI 24, CHICAGO 22 — Strong performances by backup quarterbacks Ray Lucas and Sage Rosenfels helped the Dolphins even their preseason record. A week after being acquired in a trade with Washington, Rosenfels completed 9 of 11 passes in the second half and led the Dolphins to their last touchdown drive, capped by fullback Obafemi Ayanbadejo's 8-yard run. Lucas, for his part, was 11-for-17 afer replacing Jay Fiedler in the first quarter and threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to James McKnight in the second quarter. The Dolphins opened the game by successfully recovering an onside kick, a play that led to a 34-yard field goal by Olindo Mare. After Dez White gave Chicago a 7-3 lead with a 80-yard touchdown reception, Travis Minor gave the Dolphins the lead for good with a 15-yard touchdown run up the middle. The play followed Derrick Rodgers' fumble recovery after Adewale Ogunleye sacked QB Jim Miller and stripped him of the ball.
PRESEASON GAME NO. 3, MIAMI 24, HOUSTON 3 — The Dolphins finally showed why they are considered among the Super Bowl contenders by dominating the expansion Texans in the first-ever game at Reliant Stadium. Miami racked up huge advantages in total yards (342-152) and first downs (24-8) to record their first victory of the preseason. The Dolphins quickly jumped ahead 14-0 on their first two possessions, thanks to touchdown runs by Ricky Williams (1 yard) and Rob Konrad (4 yards). The lead grew to 24-0 late in the third quarter when Robert Edwards scored on a 1-yard run, his first touchdown since blowing out his knee in February of 1999. The game could have been closer had it not been for two Houston touchdowns that were called back because of penalties, but it was clear on this night who the better was.
PRESEASON GAME NO. 2, NEW ORLEANS 24, MIAMI 7 — The Dolphins were simply awful, committing 12 penalties, having a punt blocked and returned for a touchdown and throwing five interceptions, including three by starter Jay Fiedler. Miami actually outgained the Saints, 296 yards to 228, but couldn't overcome all their mistakes. Randy McMichael scored the Dolphins' only touchdown, leaping over two defenders and into the end zone to complete a 24-yard score on the last play of the first half. Fiedler, Ray Lucas and Tim Levcik combined to attempt 53 passes, but they completed only 22 of them, barely over 40 percent. Safety Shawn Wooden provided one of the only bright spots for the Dolphins as he picked up an Aaron Brooks and came up with a 36-yard return late in the first half. His play set up McMichael's touchdown.
PRESEASON GAME NO. 1, TAMPA BAY 14, MIAMI 10 — Frank Murphy returned the opening kickoff 95 yards to give Tampa Bay a quick 7-0 lead and the Dolphins were never able to catch up after that. The Dolphins trailed 14-0 before they closed the gap on Ray Lucas' 5-yard touchdown pass to Dedric Ward and Olindo Mare's 43-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. The Dolphins lost a great scoring opportunity just before halftime when Travis Minor fumbled at the Tampa Bay 1-yard line and safety John Howell recovered for the Bucs. Mare also missed two field goal attempts (a 52-yarder that was just short, and a 30-yarder that hit the right upright. Wide receiver Robert Baker was the offensive star for the Dolphins with four catches for 85 yards, while Adewale Ogunleye stole the show on defense with four sacks.