MIRROR IMAGES?

As was the case a month ago against Denver, the Dolphins face a team this week that looks an awful lot like themselves.

Both the Dolphins and Chargers are led on offense by stud running backs, Ricky Williams and LaDainian Tomlinson.

Both teams are very good on defense against the run, with Miami ranking second in the league and the Chargers ranking third.

Both are led by guys who could be classified as defense-first, conservative coaches, Dave Wannstedt and Marty Schottenheimer.

"I think both teams are physical and both coaches teach that," said Dolphins tackle Mark Dixon. "That's kind of both teams' M.O. (modus operandi). I think both teams like to play it close to the vest, be physical and control the clock. In that way, we're very similar. I think personnel-wise, we're not as similar."

One big difference in terms of personnel concerns the styles of the two star running backs. Williams is a physical, bruising runner who likes to go directly at defenders, while Tomlinson is a slasher who likes to go around defenders.

"Our back can do everything, but he's a big, power guy," Dixon said. "Their guy is a little different type of runner. He's got all the skills, too, but he's more of a ‘stop him, stop him, then hit you for a big one.' I think we like to pound it away more.

"All across the board, their defense has guys who can run. They do a lot of things with (Junior) Seau, which creates a lot of deception. Where we line up more and just come after you, I think they do different things to try to free people up."

Ray Lucas, for one, isn't concerneda about similarities.

When asked if he considered this a "mirror" game, he replied: "Not really. I don't even look at it as two teams. All I look at is my team.

"I know what we have to do to win. We have to go out there and execute. We have to go out there and block. We have to go out there and throw it and we have to go out there and catch it. If we do all that, we'll be OK."


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