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Thursday, November 4, 1999
Baxter Bits: Titans at Dolphins

By Russell S. Baxter
Special to

The Titans head to Miami for the second time in three seasons looking to end the Dolphins' recent winning ways in this always-competitive series.

Including playoffs, Miami owns a one-game advantage in the standings (13-12) and have prevailed in the last three meetings dating back to 1992, including a 16-13 overtime triumph Pro Player Stadium in 1997 in the latest clash between the clubs.

Including playoffs, Titans are 6-7 lifetime at Miami (5-5 at the Orange Bowl dating back to 1966, 1-2 at Pro Player Stadium dating back to 1991).

Numbers: The Titans have played five straight games decided by 3 or fewer points, and 6-of-7 games in '99 decided by 3 or fewer points. Tennessee has limited the opposition to 17 or fewer points in 18 of their last 35 contests dating back to '97. After giving up just five touchdown passes in their first seven games, the Titans have allowed 30 TD passes in their last 16 contests dating back to '98. Dolphins PK Olindo Mare has kicked 25 field goals in seven games in '99, including three or more field goals in six straight games. The NFL record for field goals in a season is 37, set by Carolina's John Kasay in 1996.

Since 1996 (including playoffs), under head coach Jimmy Johnson, the Dolphins are 34-5 when they run the ball five or more times, 0-19 when they fail to run the ball at least 25 times. In 12 home games dating back to '98 (including playoffs), the Dolphins have allowed just 151 points, 2,810 yards of total offense (234.2 YPG) and just eight offensive touchdowns. Since Dan Marino took over as the Dolphins' starter in Week 6 vs. the Bills in 1983, Miami backups are 10-10 starting for Marino, including 3-9 in their last 12 games (2-0 in '99). Since 1996 (including playoffs), under head coach Jimmy Johnson, the Dolphins have totaled 105 sacks and 86 takeaways in 34 wins but just 33 sacks and 32 takeaways in 24 losses. The Dolphins have forced two or more turnovers in four straight games. They have limited the opposition to fewer than 100 yards rushing in six straight games.

Things to look for: Tennessee's aggressive pass rush made life miserable early for the unbeaten Rams but Jeff Fisher's team still had problems putting St. Louis away. Jimmy Johnson's defense continues to make strides and a unit that was great at home and suspect on the road a year ago is now frustrating opponents everywhere. Look for a very physical contest as both teams look to establish the run.

Etc.: The Titans are 6-1 for the first time since 1991, when the then-Houston Oilers opened 7-1, finished 11-5 and captured their first AFC Central title under since-departed head coach Jack Pardee. The Dolphins are 6-1 for the first time since 1993, when they finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs (QB Dan Marino was injured in the team's fifth game and missed the rest of the season) under since-departed head coach Don Shula. The Titans have won three straight games. They are 11-1 vs. AFC Central rivals, 3-8 vs. the rest of the NFL dating back to '98. Since 1995, the Titans are 18-18 at home and 19-16 on the road. PK Al Del Greco (1,408) needs 14 points to tie Matt Bahr (1,422) for 10th place on the NFL's all-time scoring list. The Dolphins have won four straight games.