DENVER -- Jason Elam raised his arms, then high-stepped along the sideline. After hitting a 55-yard field goal with 45 seconds left, Elam figured the game was over.
He was wrong.
|Rob Konrad and Olindo Mare are happy Dolphins after Miami's last-second victory over the Broncos. (AP)|
The Broncos (4-2) figured they had the game won when Elam's fifth field goal -- his second over 50 yards -- curled inside the right upright, but Miami quarterback Jay Fiedler had just enough time to set up Mare's kick.
After Elam's field goal, Miami's Travis Minor returned the kickoff 21 yards to the Dolphins 26 with 40 seconds left. Fiedler, who played the final series with a broken thumb, missed on his first two passes, but hit Randy McMichael on a 17-yarder on third down with 29 seconds left.
Fiedler followed with a 22-yard completion to Dedric Ward, who grabbed the ball after it went right through the outstretched hands of Denver linebacker John Mobley.
"Down the stretch, Jay made some big-time throws under pressure," Miami coach Dave Wannstedt said.
Mare, who missed a 48-yarder earlier in the game, calmly hit the field goal, then was mobbed by teammates as he ran toward the sideline. It was the seventh game-winning kick of his career.
"It was one of those great finishes that you see on Classic Sports," Miami's Patrick Surtain said. "It was a great game, man. Two great teams going at it, playing four quarters."
Miami (5-1) gained just 259 yards, but scored twice in a 1:35 span after intercepting two of Brian Griese's passes in the fourth.
Miami's Sam Madison stepped in front of Rod Smith on a slant for an interception and returned it 15 yards to the Miami 48. That set up a 2-yard TD run by Ricky Williams that put Miami up 14-12.
Three plays later, Surtain returned an interception 40 yards for a touchdown for a nine-point lead.
Griese, coming off one of his best games as a pro, was 27-for-46 for 335 yards, but he threw three interceptions and was booed by the home crowd early in the fourth quarter.
"I know I didn't play perfect and I know a lot of our guys on our team feel the same way," said Griese, 26-for-35 for 316 yards in a 26-9 victory over San Diego last week.
"I am going to be hard on myself, but at the same time I realize that I am not always going to be perfect."
The Broncos answered Surtain's TD with an 80-yard scoring drive, capped by a 1-yard touchdown pass from Griese to Mike Anderson that made it 21-19.
Denver stopped Miami on its next drive, then reached the Dolphins 35 after Ashley Lelie slipped behind Surtain for a 30-yard reception to set up Elam's final kick.
"It felt good. I thought that was going to be it, but that's the NFL," Elam said. "You just never know."
Williams, the league's second-leading rusher, finished with only 49 yards on 20 carries and took a beating for the second straight game.
He took a vicious hit from Denver linebacker Al Wilson in the fourth quarter but bounced back with a 7-yard run around right end, then scored on the 2-yard run off right tackle. He also scored on a 10-yard run in the second quarter.
"They did a good job of handling our running game, a lot of times without using their safeties at all," Wannstedt said. "This is one of the best run defenses, if not the best, in the NFL. We knew it was going to be tough duty."
Denver had little trouble moving the ball against Miami's defense in the first half, but the Broncos couldn't find the end zone.
The Broncos crossed Miami's 35 three straight times to start the game but had to settle for three field goals after the drives stalled.
Denver reached Miami's 2 midway through the second quarter, but Anderson fumbled and the Dolphins recovered at the 1.
Denver had the ball at Miami's 22 early in the third after Trevor Pryce stripped Fiedler and recovered the fumble, but the Broncos again had to settle for a field goal by Elam. His 40-yarder made it 12-7.
Elam also had a 49-yard field goal negated as time ran out in the first half when Blake Brockermeyer was called for holding.
"We had a lot of opportunities in that game and we gave it away," Denver coach Mike Shanahan said.
- Miami wide receiver Chris Chambers had to be helped from the field in the second quarter after suffering a concussion on a vicious hit to the head from Denver safety Kenoy Kennedy. Denver's Smith and Ed McCaffrey each had their 500th career reception.
- Miami is 7-0-1 since 1968 against Denver in the regular season.
- Minor had 215 yards on seven kickoff returns.
- Miami is 16-4 in its past 20 Sunday night games.
The Associated Press News Service
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