Without scoring a touchdown, the Miami Dolphins turned the tables on the New England Patriots. All it took was some clutch kicking and dominant defense.
Olindo Mare booted four field goals, including a 43-yarder with 10:24 left in overtime, and Miami earned a breakthrough 12-9 victory Sunday in a showdown of AFC East co-leaders.
The Patriots had won their four previous games against Miami, including three last season, but the Dolphins ended the streak thanks to three field goals by Mare in the final 10 minutes. Miami (5-2) took over sole possession of first place in the division.
"It's a big win because we haven't beaten New England in two years," receiver O.J. McDuffie said. "Now we're on top. It feels good to have everybody chasing us."
The injury-plagued Patriots (4-3) slipped to second with their second consecutive defeat.
"This was a very big game for us, but by no means is the season over," quarterback Drew Bledsoe said. "Miami tries to play conservative and win with defense, and they did a good job of that." Miami won without scoring a touchdown for the first time since 1983, mainly thanks to a defense that hasn't allowed a touchdown at home in 14 quarters.
The Dolphins held New England to 26 yards rushing and ended Robert Edwards' scoring streak. He was the first NFL rookie to rush for a touchdown in his first six games.
| Karim Abdul-Jabbar runs for a first down past Chris Canty during the first quarter on Sunday. (AP) |
"This is probably the worst I've ever felt after a game," said Edwards, who carried 19 times for 27 yards. "They pounded on me."
"That's a very good defense," New England coach Pete Carroll said. "They were all over the place."
Dan Marino completed 23 of 42 passes for 279 yards but threw three interceptions, increasing his total to nine in the past four games against the Patriots.
"We were definitely stumbling on offense," Marino said. "You want to be perfect, and we're not exactly perfect. We're hanging in there. That's what we've got to do."
Marino rallied Miami from a fourth-quarter deficit to win for the 34th time.
"When you get in that situation, there's no better man to have in the huddle," McDuffie said. "He's done it so many times."
Marino moved Miami 52 yards in the final two minutes of regulation to set up Mare's game-tying 25-yard field goal, and the Patriots never saw the ball in overtime.
Following the kickoff, a pass-interference penalty on Ty Law on third-and-10 allowed Miami to keep possession deep in its own territory, and Marino completions of 25 and 10 yards set up Mare's game-winner.
"He's as cool a kicker as I've ever been around," coach Jimmy Johnson said.
Mare also connected from 48 and 38 yards.
"I'd rather kick six extra points, but whatever it takes," he said.
New England's Adam Vinatieri kicked field goals from 41, 30 and 36 yards. Bledsoe went 13-for-33 for 240 yards and surpassed 20,000 yards passing in his 83rd NFL game. Only Marino did it faster, reaching the milestone in 74 games.
Bledsoe was working without three of his top four wide receivers, including Terry Glenn, who was inactive because of a hamstring injury. Defensive end Willie McGinest was inactive with a groin injury, and fullback Tony Carter was sidelined following knee surgery.
"Nothing matters -- we lost," receiver Shawn Jefferson said. "That's the bottom line, and it hurts like hell."
The low-scoring, mistake-filled game turned wild in the fourth quarter. A disputed 38-yard pass interference penalty on Terrell Buckley set up Vinatieri's 30-yard field goal for a 6-3 New England lead.
That was the first of four field gals in the final 9:10 of regulation, with the Dolphins twice coming from behind. Kickoff returns of 32 and 37 yards by rookie John Avery led to Miami's scores.
"We were sporadic throughout the game," Johnson said, "but we made the plays when we needed to."
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