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Fiedler, Dolphins dismantle Pats

10/6/2002

MIAMI (AP) -- Zach Thomas busted his chin strap tackling Kevin Faulk, one in a series of jarring hits that helped the Miami
Dolphins knock the New England Patriots out of first place.

Question on the Patriots: Should Belichick be more concerned with his defense or offense?
Belichick should be concerned about his defense -- especially since it's his area of expertise. The Pats are having trouble stopping the run and are giving up a lot of yardage on the ground. And against the Dolphins, Jay Fielder is not a passing-type quarterback who evokes fear. The problem is more about age than scheme so look for it to be a problem throughout the rest of the season.

Question on the Dolphins: As the season goes on, will we see the Dolphins just keep running Ricky once they take a lead?

The key to the Dolphins' success is definitely Ricky Williams. I'm sure Dave Wannstedt would rather see Williams run the ball 30 times and Fiedler throw 19 times a game. They don't want Fiedler in a position where he has to win ballgames. As long as Williams is healthy and running the ball in Miami, the Dolphins are a very strong team.

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

The Dolphins sacked Tom Brady three times, pressured him into
mistakes, pounded the middle with Ricky Williams and handed the
Patriots their second loss in a row Sunday, 26-13.

The victory left Miami (4-1) alone atop the AFC East, while the
defending Super Bowl champion Patriots (3-2) fell a game back.

"They have something we want,'' Dolphins cornerback Patrick Surtain said. "We want to get where they were last year.''

Surtain led a resurgent defense that rebounded from a 48-30 loss
at Kansas City a week ago. Miami took a 16-0 lead in the first
half, when New England totaled just 26 yards and committed two
turnovers, and the Dolphins finished with a 20-minute advantage in
time of possession.

Williams lost a fumble for the second week in a row but topped
100 yards rushing for the fourth time in five games. He gained 105
tough yards on 36 carries, a team regular-season record.

Jay Fiedler threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, all on
third down.

"We were embarrassed last week with what happened,'' Miami
coach Dave Wannstedt said. "To see our team bounce back in every
phase was rewarding.''

The Patriots fell to 0-13 in Miami in September and October.
They can take some consolation that Sunday's loss was similar to a
30-10 drubbing in Miami a year ago, when Brady threw for just 86
yards. The Patriots recovered from that defeat, their worst of the
season, and went on to win the Super Bowl.

This time Brady passed for 240 yards, including touchdown throws
of 34 and 25 yards to David Patten. But much of his success came in
the final eight minutes against a defense that played much better
after giving up five touchdown passes to Kansas City's Trent Green
a week ago.

"We made too many mistakes in the first half and dug ourselves
a hole,'' New England coach Bill Belichick said.

Surtain and end Jason Taylor, both of whom have been hobbled by
knee injuries, sparked Miami's defense. Taylor had two sacks and
forced a fumble by Brady to set up the game's first score, and
Surtain's interception led to the next score for a 13-0 lead.

The Patriots' first 21 plays netted 17 yards -- just 29 inches
per play.

"A lot of things went wrong early,'' Brady said. "They kept a
lot of pressure on us with their front seven.''

Fiedler went 17-for-27 for 190 yards with no turnovers. Miami
converted nine of 17 third-down situations, including both of
Fiedler's touchdown passes -- 7 yards to Chris Chambers and 1 yard
to Randy McMichael.

"It's probably the most complete game I've seen from the
Dolphins in all phases since I've been here,'' said Fiedler, who is
26-13 as Miami's starter. "Ricky was running the ball and the
defense was stopping them, and when those things are going it's a
lot easier for me.''

Despite Miami's dominance, the fumble by Williams almost let New
England back in the game. The Dolphins led 16-0 and were at the
Patriots 33 when Tedy Bruschi jarred the ball loose and Victor
Green recovered. New England then mounted its first drive, moving
68 yards in five plays to score.

Thomas broke his chin strap during the series, and he had to
leave the game while it was fixed. He vented on the sideline in
frustration as Patten caught a touchdown pass.

"I grabbed (teammate) Robert Edwards' helmet, but I didn't get
out there in time,'' Thomas said. "It fit, though.''

A 74-yard scoring drive by Miami ended the comeback. Fiedler hit
James McKnight for 35 yards to the 3, then lobbed to McMichael in
the corner of the end zone for 23-6 lead.

And now the Dolphins lead their division. Said Fiedler: "We've
just got to keep it going and separate ourselves from the pack.''

Game notes
Miami reserve defensive end David Bowens sprained his left
knee in the third period and missed the rest of the game. Reserve
safety Shawn Wooden strained his left hamstring. ... Patriots
receiver Troy Brown (knee) was inactive for the second consecutive
game. Dolphins tackle Mark Dixon (ankle) was also inactive. ...
Playing against his former team for the first time, Edwards carried
four times for 13 yards and caught one pass for 10.