SUNDAY NIGHT CLASSIC

Wow. Is there any other way to describe the Dolphins' 24-22 victory over Denver at Invesco Field at Mile High on Sunday night. This was so good, look for the game to be on ESPN Classic very soon.

The Dolphins improved to 5-1, tied with San Diego for the best record in the AFC, thanks to Olindo Mare's 53-yard field goal with six seconds left.

That came less than a minute after Denver's Jason Elman hit one from 55 yards out to give the Broncos a 22-21 lead after the Dolphins had led 21-12 earlier in the fourth quarter.

As expected, the defenses dominated this game, but that didn't prevent a lot of fireworks in the fourth quarter when the teams combined for 27 points.

The Dolphins entered the fourth quarter trailing 12-7 before taking the lead for the first time on Ricky Williams' 2-yard run up the middle. The Dolphins were going to go for a two-point conversion, but rookie tight end Randy McMichael was called for a false start and the decision was made to settle for the extra-point kick and a 14-12 lead.

That decision almost came back to haunt the Dolphins, although it didn't appear to matter a few minutes later when CB Patrick Surtain stepped in front of a Brian Griese pass and returned the interception 40 yards for a touchdown that made it 21-12.

But the Broncos wouldn't quit, coming back with an 80-yard touchdown drive that was sparked by a 21-yard screen pass to rookie Clinton Portis on a third-and-15.

Mike Anderson's touchdown on a 1-yard pass made it 21-19 with under four minutes left, leaving it up to the Dolphins offense to kill the clock.

But the Dolphins could only manage one first down and had to punt right before the two-minute warning.

A 30-yard completion from Griese to rookie Ashley Lelie over Surtain brought Denver to the Miami 35-yard line. A 2-yard loss by Portis on a running play and two incompletions left Denver in a fourth-and-12 from the 37.

No problem. Elam came in and nailed his fifth field goal of the game — he would have had a sixth on the last play of the first game, but a holding penalty negated it.

The Dolphins' final drive didn't start off well, with McMichael dropping a pass and Fiedler missing Dedric Ward near the sideline.

But McMichael atoned on third down when he reached back to make a spectacular catch that was good for 17 yards to the Miami 43-yard line.

The next play was even bigger. Fiedler threw a floating pass to his left. Linebacker John Mobley, dropped back in coverage, jumped for the ball and got both hands on it.

But the ball went through his hands and landed right in the chest of Ward, who then tumbled forward to the Denver 35-yard line.

The Dolphins called their last timeout with 11 seconds left. They weren't going to wait and Mare came in to kick the game-winner.

It was sweet redemption for Mare, who had missed his fourth field goal of the season in the first half.

It wasn't a great first half for the Dolphins overall, but the defense stiffened when it had to and wound up holding Denver to three Elam field goals. Williams's 10-yard touchdown run kept the Dolphins close until the wild fourth quarter.


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