Monday, October 27, 2003
Griese shines in Dolphins debut on Monday night
JERSEY CITY, New Jersey - The crowd had barely filed in
before the Miami Dolphins jumped ahead of the San Diego
Chargers. And once they got settled, Brian Griese was in the
midst of passing clinic and living up to his famous last name.
Making his season debut, Griese completed 13-of-14 passes before
halftime as the Dolphins got off to a great start on both sides
of the ball en route to a 26-10 victory over the Chargers.
With wildfires raging in the San Diego area, the game was moved
to Sun Devil Stadium. At the home of the Arizona Cardinals, who
attracted only 40,824 fans for their game against the San
Francisco 49ers on Sunday, this contest drew a capacity crowd of
73,014 fans, who were admitted for free.
Griese opened the scoring with a five-yard TD pass to Chris
Chambers just over two minutes into the game and Olindo Mare
kicked a 44-yard over four minutes later. Both scores were set
up by interceptions of Drew Brees, who was picked off twice on
his first four pass attempts.
On 3rd-and-2 from San Diego's 32, Patrick Surtain picked off a
pass and returned it 32 yards to the 6. Just 2:18 later, Brees
dropped back on 2nd-and-5 and missed running back LaDainian
Tomlinson. Linebacker Zach Thomas ended up with the ball and
returned it 19 yards to San Diego's 24.
Griese, whose father Bob Griese led Miami to three Super Bowl
titles from 1967-1980 and was inducted into the Pro Football
Hall of Fame 10 years later, completed his first game in a Miami
uniform by completing 20-of-29 passes for 192 yards and three
TDs. They are the first father-son duo to play for the same
"It felt pretty special," Griese said. "I have waited seven
weeks and wanted to contribute to the team in some way. I had
the opportunity and it felt great. On Monday Night Football, I
don't think I could have asked for anything more."
Facing a Chargers (1-6) team that was coming off its first win,
a 26-20 victory at Cleveland, Griese threw two more TDs in the
second quarter, connecting with James McKnight on a seven-yard
score and tight end Randy McMichael on a two-yard strike.
In its latest loss, San Diego was limited to only 250 yards of
total offense and gave up six sacks. Tomlinson was held to 62
yards on 24 carries, Brees completed 19-of-30 passes for 190
yards while throwing three interceptions and former Cardinals
receiver David Boston had five catches for 82 yards.
"They played like they always play," Schottenheimer said of the
Dolphins' defense. "When you get in a situation where you have
to throw against them, they're going to sack your quarterback.
We didn't have a way to answer."
The game was scheduled to be at San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium,
marking a homecoming for Dolphins linebacker Junior Seau. But
on Sunday, NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue suggested the teams
play at Arizona after the city of San Diego advised the league
that the game could not be played at Qualcomm.
Wildfires in Southern California have burned at least 650 homes
and left 14 people dead. The fires stretch for miles and have
been fanned by fierce winds.
The parking lot at Qualcomm Stadium has been turned into a major
evacuation center as residents in surrounding neighborhoods
were ordered out of their homes by authorities.
Seau, who was born in San Diego and graduated from Oceanside
High School, spent his entire career with the Chargers before
being dealt to Miami in April for a conditional pick in the 2004
Perhaps the greatest defensive player in the Chargers' history,
Seau was selected to 12 Pro Bowls in 13 seasons as an outside
linebacker in San Diego. He received the 2003 Spirit of San
Diego Award from the city's Chamber of Commerce for community
commitment and leadership.
"This was the hardest game I had to play," Seau said. "The game
was secondary compared to the things going on back there. All
the players did a great job of blocking everything out. It is a
struggle for all of us and I can't wait to get home.
"Emotionally those are my guys (Chargers), some of the guys I
raised and some I shared a lot of years with. It is my home and
always will be."
Miami (5-2) has won five of its last six games and moved within
one-half game of the New England Patriots for the lead in the
San Diego is in the basement of the AFC West and has dropped 10
of its last 11 games dating to last season.
On Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs (8-0) remained the NFL's only
unbeaten team with a 38-5 rout of the Buffalo Bills. Earlier
Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings fell from the ranks of the
unbeatens, losing to the New York Giants, 29-17.
Only 11 teams since 1972 have reached the midway point of the
season with an unbeaten record and eight of those advanced to
the Super Bowl.
Kansas City's next four games are against teams with losing
records - Cleveland (3-5), Cincinnati (3-4), Oakland (2-5) and