DOLPHINS WELL GROUNDED

Been there, done that. The Dolphins' 3-0 start obviously is good news for anyone associated with the team. But the Dolphins know better than to get overly excited about the fast start.

As a team that has won its last 11 season openers, the Dolphins are accustomed to getting off to quick starts. Even 3-0 starts are nothing, the Dolphins having done that five times in the last nine years.

But every single one of the season has ended in disappointment, whether it be a collapse from 7-1 to 9-7 in 1999 or — even worse — 9-2 to 9-7 in 1993.

"Since I've been here, we've gotten off to good starts," said defensive end Jason Taylor. "You see where it gets you if you don't play well at the end of the season. Three wins won't get you in the playoffs."

That was the message Taylor sent to his teammates in the locker room Sunday following the 30-3 victory over the New York Jets.

It was a huge win for the Dolphins, given their recent history against the Jets. But the Dolphins did their best to look at it as just a division win.

Linebacker Zach Thomas even said Monday he was expecting a bigger celebration in the locker room.

"We're kind of excited and we've been working real hard, but we're still only 3-0," said wide receiver Oronde Gadsden. "We know it's a long haul. An even-keel attitude is great. If we're 11-1 or 12-1, then it may be a different story. The toughest games for us are still to come."

Indeed, the Dolphins stil have to play New England (twice), Green Bay, Denver and, yes, the Jets again.

But these Dolphins are shooting for the big prize, and by the time they get to the playoffs that victory over the Jets won't be that significant anymore.

"After a while you get there (to the playoffs) and go out in the first or second round, it seems like a waste of time," Taylor said. "Getting there five years in a row and laying an egg ... what's the use?

"We've been 3-0 before, won the division and got a T-shirt."

The Dolphins don't want a T-shirt this season. Their sights are set more on a trophy. Like the Lombardi Trophy.

So while it's totally difficult to believe the Dolphins when they say beating the Jets was just another division win, you can believe them when they say that being 3-0 is nice, but won't get you anything come January.

They have learned that much over the years.


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