The Miami Dolphins' offense shows signs of improvement. Or maybe the Indianapolis Colts are just getting worse.
Rookie John Avery rushed for 100 yards and O.J. McDuffie caught two touchdown passes to spark an attack that has sputtered for most of the season, and Miami beat the hapless Colts 27-14 Sunday.
"I believe in my heart we're going to be one of the better teams at the end of the year," quarterback Dan Marino said.
Miami, averaging 269 yards per game, outgained Indianapolis 279-57 in the first half to build a 20-0 lead. The score was 27-0 before the Colts scored all of their points in the final eight minutes.
"The offense came out blazing early, gave us a lead and made Indy do things they didn't want to do," Miami defensive end Trace Armstrong said.
| Dolphins receiver Oronde Gadsden (86) pulls in a pass for an apparent touchdown. But it was waived off; Gadsden was called for offensive pass interference on the play. (AP) |
Peyton Manning's passing couldnt get the Colts back into the game. He was held to 140 yards, completing 22 of 42 attempts with two interceptions and one touchdown.
"Frustrating," Manning said. "A lot of games this year have been frustrating."
The Colts fell to 1-8 with their fourth consecutive loss, and they're 0-6 within the division. The Dolphins improved to 6-3, leaving them tied with the New York Jets for first place in the AFC East.
This win was different, though. The Dolphins finally mustered an offensive performance to match their dominating defense.
McDuffie made his first scoring reception in 21 games, catching touchdown passes of 61 and 6 yards from Marino. Miami rushed for a season-high 153 yards, including Avery's 8-yard touchdown run, and Olindo Mare added field goals of 21 and 23 yards.
The defense, meanwhile, shut out the Colts for the first 52 minutes, extending Miami's home streak without allowing a touchdown to 17 quarters. Terrell Buckley intercepted Manning for the third time this season, and Sam Madison also had an interception for the Dolphins.
"In the first half, I got the impression they were just playing with us on defense," Indianapolis coach Jim Mora said. "They take it to you. They've got a tough-guy attitude. I like that."
With the outcome decided, the Colts finally scored on a 6-yard run by Marshall Faulk and a 9-yard pass from Manning to Ken Dilger.
Marino, who hit his first nine passes, finished 18-for-27 for 207 yards, including nine completions to McDuffie for 132 yards. Avery, playing an increasingly prominent role in the offense, carried a season-high 21 times for his first 100-yard game.
"The biggest thing is Avery had the opportunities," coach Jimmy Johnson said. "The more experience he gets and the more opportunities he gets, the better he's going to be."
The Dolphins even ran a quarterback option successfully -- not with Marino, but with third-stringer Todd Doxzon. He entered the game on third-and-2 at midfield and ran for 3 yards and a first down.
"It's something the coach wants to do," Marino said. "I won't be running the option, believe me."
The play sustaining an 86-yard drive that ended with McDuffie's 6-yard touchdown reception.
The Dolphins took a 7-0 lead on their fourth play when McDuffie beat Jeff Burris over the middle on a short pattern, broke into the clear and scored on a 61-yard play. It was Marino's longest completion since Dec. 8, 1996.
The Dolphins adjusted well to the absence of seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle Richmond Webb, who missed his first start in 119 games after undergoing arm surgery. Brent Smith made his NFL debut as Webb's replacement, and the Colts never sacked Marino.
"That first half was a real poor exhibition of football," Mora said. "We were real flat against a good team. In the first half we were totally outclassed."
NotesMiami running back Karim Abdul-Jabbar sprained hi ankle, and his playing time was limited as a precaution. ... Dolphins linebacker Robert Jones strained his left triceps and safety Brock Marion strained his left hamstring, but the injuries weren't believed to be serious. ... Manning wasn't sacked, and he has been sacked just once in the past five games. ... Faulk rushed for 88 yards and is on a pace to finish with 1,228. ... Miami tight end Ed Perry and defensive lineman Lorenzo Bromell were inactive. "Their play has leveled off the last few weeks," Johnson said. "Maybe this will get their attention to pick it up." ... The Dolphins have won their first five home games for the first time since 1985.
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