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Detroit at Miami

Dolphins top Lions to win 11th consecutive opener

SportsLine.com wire reports

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

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.

Ricky Williams rushes for 111 yards and two touchdowns as the Dolphins romp in their opener. 
Ricky Williams rushes for 111 yards and two touchdowns as the Dolphins romp in their opener.(AP) 
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 Williams.

"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."


  • 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.

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2002, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved
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Photo Viewer

Scoring Summary
TDRicky Williams, 1 Yd run (Olindo Mare kick is good), 03:07. Drive: 9 plays, 90 yards in 5:21.
TDTrent Gamble, 0 Yd fumble return (Olindo Mare kick is good), 14:46.
TDRandy McMichael, 16 Yd pass from Jay Fiedler (Olindo Mare kick is good), 10:11. Drive: 7 plays, 64 yards in 3:31.
TDMike McMahon, 2 Yd run (Jason Hanson kick is good), 04:20. Drive: 14 plays, 80 yards in 5:51.
TDChris Chambers, 9 Yd pass from Jay Fiedler (Olindo Mare kick is good), 00:08. Drive: 8 plays, 66 yards in 1:28.
TDRicky Williams, 2 Yd run (Olindo Mare kick is good), 14:41. Drive: 1 play, 2 yards in 0:06.
TDLamont Warren, 13 Yd pass from Mike McMahon (Jason Hanson kick is good), 06:19. Drive: 7 plays, 45 yards in 4:11.
TDRobert Edwards, 4 Yd pass from Jay Fiedler (Olindo Mare kick is good), 03:59. Drive: 5 plays, 43 yards in 2:20.
TDRobert Edwards, 1 Yd run (Olindo Mare kick is good), 10:39. Drive: 11 plays, 77 yards in 6:39.
TDCory Schlesinger, 2 Yd run (Jason Hanson kick is good), 05:48. Drive: 11 plays, 77 yards in 4:51.
M. McMahon13/2517911
J. Harrington4/114100
C. Schlesinger82819
M. McMahon21119
L. Warren5808
A. Cason4403
A. Hakim997021
M. Ricks368049
A. Cason237019
L. Warren113113
L. Foster1404
C. Schlesinger1101
J. Fiedler18/2720730
R. Williams20111237
T. Minor1145018
R. Edwards420110
J. Fiedler3904
R. Konrad1-10-1
R. Lucas2-20-1
R. McMichael473124
R. Edwards438114
C. Chambers336120
R. Konrad435019
O. Gadsden218010
D. Ward1707
Complete Player Stats