Sunday's game between the Dolphins and Patriots offers a couple of interesting sub-plots, and one of the most interesting is the battle of wits between Miami offensive coordinator Norv Turner and New England head coach Bill Belichick.

The two men are considered among the brightest minds in the NFL when it comes to offense and defense, and you'll often see either one of them put at the very top of their profession.

Turner has built his reputation as an offensive genius through his stints in Dallas, Washington, San Diego and now Miami. Belichick, for his part, has come up with great defensive game plans during his years with the Giants, Browns, Patriots, Jets and Patriots again.

Both men have helped teams win Super Bowls. And needless to say, both men have a lot of respect for each other.

"He's been putting gray hairs in my head," Belichick said about Turner this week. "His schemes give you a lot of problems. You look at them on film, the players are not out of position, it's hard to set up anything from a defensive standpoint where you can say you can take advantage of this or that. It's just not that evident."

Turner has wasted little time making an impact in Miami, and his players have marveled at his ability to keep a defense guessing.

But there's more to Turner than just clever play-calling.

"Norv takes the talent that we have and makes the most of it," said running back Ricky Williams. "That's what he's good at. Norv does a good job of making the system fit to the players."

The same can be said of Belichick, whose stature as a genius was solidified by the Patriots defense's ability to shut down the Rams in last year's surprising Super Bowl.

The presence of Belichick alone is why the Dolphins aren't overconfidence offensively despite the fact New England has had its problem on defense the last couple of weeks.

"The thing about great coaches," said tackle Mark Dixon, "is they find answers and they find answers quicker than anybody else."

Sunday will mark the fifth time Turner has faced Belichick since the two first started running offense and defenses.

And the earlier results certainly have to be cause for optimism for Dolphins fans.

Here's the rundown:

In 1991, Turner was the offensive coordinator for the Cowboys and Belichick was the head coach of the Browns, and Dallas won 26-14 in Cleveland.

In 1996, Turner was the head coach of the Redskins and Belichick was the assistant head coach of the Patriots, and Washington won 27-22 at New England.

In 1999, Turner was still head coach of the Redskins, while Belichick had become assistant head coach of the Jets. Washington won 27-20 at New York.

Finally, the two met last season when Turner was offensive coordinator of the Chargers and Belichick was in his current role as head coach of the Patriots. New England won 29-26 in overtime at Foxboro Stadium.

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