Can Victory Be a Springboard?

No doubt Nick Saban thoroughly enjoyed the Dolphins' shocking 31-13 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday, but that doesn't seem he felt his team played a perfect game. Partly because of that, Saban, ever the teacher, wanted to make sure his 2-6 disciples didn't get too full of themselves after one solid victory and would avoid "relief syndrome."

"I think the important thing is that we set a standard in this game of how we played -- offense, defense and special teams all playing well in a game," Saban said. "That's what we've tried to accomplish each and every week, and I think it's self-gratifying for the players and should be a confidence booster for them in terms of us doing that on a consistent basis.

"But we need to handle it and manage it. It's not something that we want to get relieved over and say, 'OK, we made an 'A' on the mid-term. Now, we're going take it easy and miss two weeks of class and make a 'C' on the next test and have a 'B' average.' That's not what we want to do."

Despite the Dolphins running all over the league's top-ranked defense, it must be pointed out that their three offensive touchdowns came on short drives of 6, 12, and 24 yards -- all set up by Bears turnovers.

Also, the defense gave the Bears six of their 20 first downs via penalties. And although Joey Harrington threw three touchdown passes, he also had two ugly interceptions and missed a wide-open Marty Booker deep. Chris Chambers continues to drop passes that a Pro Bowl receiver shouldn't.

"There were some plays we could have made, but we didn't let it affect us and we went to the next play," Saban said. "I think that's even more critical and with more confidence and playing with confidence and believing in each other I know we'll make those plays in the future."

The improving offensive line which didn't allow any sacks, while finally opening up holes for Ronnie Brown to run through (career-high 157 yards), also isn't about to rest on its laurels.

"We haven't turned any corners," said right tackle Vernon Carey. "We got a win, but we have to keep doing it with consistency."

Carey, who played for the University of Miami when the brash Hurricanes often used anger and cockiness to intimidate opponents, said that attitude is a vital trait for offensive linemen.

"Everything's got to do with attitude no matter who you play but every time you step on the field," Carey said.

Harrington, who said he was fueled by being ignored by sports reporters on ESPN's PTI program last week, is now motivated by Sunday's confidence-boosting victory.

"We beat the best in the NFL on the road and if we could do that then we could go and beat anybody," Harrington said.

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