Williams impressive in Dolphins' debut


MIAMI (AP) -- For the Miami Dolphins, plenty of points meant
plenty of heroes -- most of them newcomers.

Does this type of debut make the transition smoother for Ricky Williams?
Definitely. Ricky is in Miami to take pressure off QB Jay Fiedler, and he's done that. It doesn't matter if the opponent is the Lions or the Rams -- he did his job today. He has Dolphins' fans optimistic about the season. With the defense they have, the sky's the limit.

Eric Allen played 14 seasons in the NFL for the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

Ricky Williams rushed for 111 yards and two touchdowns,
offensive coordinator Norv Turner earned raves for his play-calling
and the Dolphins won their opener for the 11th year in a row
Sunday, beating the Detroit Lions 49-21.

Backup tailback Robert Edwards, playing his first game in four
seasons, scored the Dolphins' final two touchdowns. Rookie tight
end Randy McMichael turned acrobat on one catch and scored on
another, and even 335-pound guard Jamie Nails won cheers by
clearing the way downfield for Williams on a 37-yard run.

All were in their first game with the Dolphins, who rang up
their biggest point total since a 52-14 win over the New York Jets
to open the 1995 season, Don Shula's last as coach.

"We've got a lot of talented guys,'' Nails said.

Miami extended its home winning streak in August and September
to 16 games. Opponents often wilt in the subtropical heat, but
stamina wasn't a concern for the Lions because they trailed 21-0
after just 20 minutes.

Detroit also fell behind 21-0 in its opener last year against
Green Bay, lost 28-6 and dropped its first dozen games as the Lions
went on to a 2-14 season.

"I'm surprised about a lot of things, starting with the
score,'' coach Marty Mornhinweg said. "I expected our entire team
to play better.''

The Lions' Joey Harrington, the third pick in the April draft,
made his debut with 10 minutes left. He directed a 77-yard
touchdown drive but completed just 4 of 11 passes for 41 yards.

"I was happy to get into the game,'' Harrington said. "I would
have liked it to have been a little different situation.''

Mike McMahon went 7-for-17 for 133 yards and remains the
starter, Mornhinweg said.

Jay Fiedler threw three touchdown passes for the Dolphins, but
fans saved their biggest cheers for the newcomers -- including

"They liked me OK,'' he said. "They cheered for us in New
Orleans, but we never won games like this in New Orleans.''

Williams, acquired from the Saints in March to bolster Miami's
perennially poor ground game, did just that with a display of both
power and speed. He carried 20 times, scored on runs of 1 and 2
yards and set up another touchdown with his 37-yard run, the
second-longest of his career.

Nails led the way on that one.

"When a defense knows Ricky is back there,'' Nails said, "not
only do they have to worry about me running them over, but they
have to worry about Ricky running them over.''

Miami's streak of season-opening wins is the second-longest in
NFL history behind only the Dallas Cowboys, who won 17 openers in a
row from 1965 to 1981. The Dolphins have won every opener since
1992, and this one ranked among their most impressive starts, even
considering the overmatched opponent.

Turner directed an offense that totaled 27 first downs and 389
yards, including 245 in the first half.

"With Norv Turner's play-calling, it's a joke out there,''
tackle Mark Dixon said. "I knew after the first four or five plays
that the Lions were in trouble. With all of our shifting and
motion, they could not adjust.''

Miami led 28-7 at halftime, and 19 seconds into the third period
it was 35-7, thanks to a Brock Marion interception and Williams'
second touchdown. The Dolphins' punt team scored when a kick
deflected off the leg of Lions blocker Chris Cash and was recovered
in the end zone by Trent Gamble.

Edwards, returning from a devastating knee injury in February
1999, scored on a 4-yard reception and 1-yard run.

"I felt great,'' Edwards said. "I felt like I did when I
scored my first touchdown as a rookie.''

McMichael made a one-handed catch for a 22-yard gain, then
scored his first NFL touchdown six plays later on a 16-yard
reception to make it 21-0.

"It was a good start,'' coach Dave Wannstedt said. "It was
something to build on.''

Game notes
Miami Pro Bowl cornerback Sam Madison twisted his right
ankle and missed the second half. Wannstedt said he didn't think
the injury was serious. ... Lions receiver Desmond Howard suffered
a concussion. Defensive tackle Luther Elliss left in the first
quarter with a bruised right thigh. ... Detroit running back James Stewart, who bruised his left knee in an exhibition game Aug. 24,
was inactive. ... Miami rookie Albert Johnson had a rocky debut as
a kick returner. He fumbled a punt, made a fair catch at the 6 and
got into a fight with Todd Lyght.


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