Sam Madison denied that he said after the Buffalo game that he was "failing," but he certainly agreed with the notion that he's not playing up to his standards.

"I didn't say that (I was failing), I said I wasn't playing well and I was in a slump," Madison said this week when asked about comments that were attributed to him after the Dolphins' 38-21 loss at Buffalo. "I didn't say I was failing; you all added that to your own little stories. I'm just not happy with the way that I'm playing, so I have to go out and do something about it myself.

"Am I failing? No, I'm not failing. I can go out and play 1,000 plays in one game, be perfect at those plays, but one play here, one play there and everybody will forget about whatever I did the whole entire game. That's the part I was talking about. I played good the whole entire game and then two plays washed that out the windown. That's the part I'm talking about, I'm slumping. I'm not living up to the ability that I play at."

Madison has been selected to the Pro Bowl each of the last three years, but he clearly hasn't had a great 2002 season.

He has been beaten more often for long plays than usual — examples include long passes to Eric Moulds in the two Buffalo games, a long completion in the Green Bay game, and a 34-yard touchdown pass in the New England game.

"When people talk about this secondary, they always mention Sam Madison and then the secondary," Madison said. "I'm not living up to that. That's the part that I was getting at. Just for myself and let people know that if it's my secondary, I take responsibility for whatever goes on back there, whether I give up a big play or whoever else gives up a big play in the secondary, it all comes down on me."

Madison also is bothered by the fact he has only two interceptions this season, although it must be pointed out he only had two picks last year as well. But that didn't prevent him from getting selected to the Pro Bowl.

Madison was asked this week whether he had ever been in a slump before.

"You tell me," he replied. "I've been to the last three Pro Bowls and the year before that I did a heckuva job with eight interceptions and the year before that I stepped into the starting lineup and I haven't looked back, so you tell me. It's a slump for me. I don't have four interceptions when I usually have those interceptions at this time of the year. I don't usually give up plays but I've given up a number of touchdowns in one season that I've done in all my career here. It's a slump for me.

"I've got to find my game. I've got to fine-tune it and get back to being that premier player as well as help this defense and help this team win. It's rough on me right now. I've got to find myself and get myself out of it and get this secondary back to where we should be. All the guys, when I watch film, I see the guys doing great things. We strive on not giving up the big plays and I look at myself and I'm the one doing it."

If Madison doesn't turn things around, it won't be for lack of trying.

He has spent extra time working with defensive backs coach Mel Phillips looking at film from last year and this year to pick out differences in his play.

Madison said he did notice some things and he spent time at practice this week working on those.

With Madison slumping and Patrick Surtain apparently headed to the Pro Bowl, it figures that opposing quarterbacks might be looking to go in Madison's direction more often.

If that's the case, Madison will welcome the challenge.

"They're going to do what they do," Madison said. "I want to be prepared so when things happen, I can create plays and make plays and be a game changer."

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