The St. Louis Rams tried everything, even a pass completion to their center. Nothing fooled the Miami Dolphins.
Dan Marino threw two touchdown passes and Miami pitched its second successive home shutout Sunday to beat the Rams 14-0.
Tim Bowens stuffed the run, Terrell Buckley and Sam Madison smothered the Rams' receivers, and Trace Armstrong had two of Miami's four sacks. The Dolphins' aggressive defense, burned four times on plays of more than 40 yards in last Monday's 28-21 loss at Jacksonville, this time had no such breakdowns.
"They do a lot of things other teams can't do because other teams don't have their speed," St. Louis quarterback Tony Banks said.
The Rams mustered just 204 yards, and Banks completed only 14 of 29 passes for 143 yards. That included a 2-yard pass that deflected to center John Flannery -- the first reception in his seven-year career.
The Dolphins (4-2), who blanked Pittsburgh 21-0 at home Sept. 20, haven't given up a point at Pro Player Stadium in 10 consecutive quartrs.
"I guess we like playing here," Bowens said.
"It's always great when you get a shutout," Armstrong said. "They're hard to come by in this league."
The Rams (2-4), who have scored at least 30 points three times this season, punted eight times and were shut out for the first time since San Francisco beat them 34-0 in the second game of 1996.
Miami has allowed just 70 points this year, fewest in the NFL.
"It's good to know you can go out and make a mistake or two and the defense can keep you in the game," Marino said. "That's what happened today."
| St. Louis quarterback Tony Banks is taken down by Derrick Rodgers for one of Miami's four sacks on the day. (AP) |
Marino's 1-yard touchdown pass to rookie Oronde Gadsden with six seconds left in the first half broke a scoreless tie. Another rookie, John Avery, added his first NFL touchdown on a 19-yard pass from Marino with 10 minutes to go.
Pass interference penalties on Todd Lyght set up both scores.
"When the refs are giving teams touchdowns, you can't play above that," Lyght said. "The refs gave them everything they got."
The Rams still haven't beaten Miami since Oct. 3, 1976. The Dolphins lead the series 7-1 with six consecutive victories.
"They just dominated us on offense," St. Louis coach Dick Vermeil said. "When that happens, you don't win. We knew coming in here that it would be very difficult to drive the length of the field. Nobody has done that against them. We thought we would be able to get a few big plays, but we didn't execute."
Dangerous Rams receiver Isaac Bruce, a South Florida native playing at Pro Player Stadium for the first time, was held to 72 yards on six catches.
"I really never dreamed they would shut us out," Bruce said.
"The stars of this game were the secondary," Armstrong said. "They stepped up and made some big plays."
The Rams' biggest gain, a 67-yard punt return by Eddie Kennison to the Miami 13, was negated by two holding penalties. St. Louis committed two turnovers, both in the final five minutes.
Banks overthrew a wide-open Ricky Proehl on a potential 20-yard touchdown pass with seven minutes left.
"I'd like to have that one back," Banks said. "I'd like to have a lot of them back." P> Two plays later, an apparent touchdown pass to Kennison on fourth down was negated when officials ruled he stepped out of bounds before the catch, ending the Rams' best threat.
Miami's passing game wasn't much better -- except for the touchdowns. Marino went 14-for-26 for 114 yards.
He had thrown for just 28 yards when Miami took possession at the Rams 46-yard line with 3:18 left in the first half. Marino then completed six passes, including a lob to Gadsden on third-and-goal at the 1, for the game's first score.
Marino hit Avery out of the backfield for the other touchdown in the fourth quarter, capping an 80-yard drive. Avery also gained 85 yards in 11 carries, including a 44-yard run in the final period to help clinch the win.
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