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New York at Miami

Dolphins make statement for coach, beat Jets

SportsLine.com wire reports

MIAMI -- As Dave Wannstedt trotted off the field and disappeared into a stadium tunnel, fans above him cheered and offered thumbs-up gestures in support.

The beleaguered coach went out with a victory Sunday. The question now is whether he'll be back.

Wannstedt's job situation would be less precarious if the Miami Dolphins played all season the way they did in a meaningless finale. They showed some offensive spark for a change, and Olindo Mare kicked a 22-yard field goal with three seconds left to beat the New York Jets 23-21.

Both teams entered the game already eliminated from playoff contention.

The Dolphins (10-6) earned a dubious distinction, becoming the first team since Philadelphia and San Francisco in 1991 to win 10 games and miss the playoffs. Their disappointing season has left Wannstedt's job in jeopardy, and owner Wayne Huizenga said he'll make an announcement regarding the coach's future Monday.

Wannstedt, 41-23 in four seasons at Miami, has one year left on his contract.

"I'm going to meet with Wayne tomorrow," Wannstedt said. "We're going to talk about the direction of the team. We've had no discussions about next year."

The Jets (6-10) closed out their first losing season since 1996 and their first under Herman Edwards.

"It starts with the head guy," Edwards said. "I need to improve. I feel I let these guys down this year."

Seven of New York's 10 losses were by seven points or fewer.

"We'll all remember this feeling as a team," quarterback Chad Pennington said. "We'll do everything in our power to make sure we don't have this feeling again."

Pennington went 22-for-28 for 221 yards and a score, but counterpart Jay Fiedler was even better. Playing perhaps his final game for Miami, Fiedler threw for a career-high 328 yards and completed three passes to drive the Dolphins 45 yards in the final 2:56 for the winning score.

Fiedler, erratic and injury-prone in four seasons as Dan Marino's successor, went 21-for-29. Chris Chambers made nine catches for 153 yards, both career highs.

Despite the offensive show, the game between AFC East rivals had the atmosphere of an August exhibition, with some 20,000 empty seats.

"It was real tough to get up for this game, even the Jets," Miami defensive end Adewale Ogunleye said. "I was slapping myself to get ready. But this shows we do have some heart, and we respect coach Wannstedt a lot."

There were only a handful of signs in the stands, and most expressed support for the Dolphins rather than disfavor with Wannstedt. When asked if it was an emotional day, the coach said, "Keep going back. Weeks. Months. It's been a long year. But we finished strong. That's all you can ask."

Miami's Ricky Williams played despite a sore shoulder that has required painkilling injections. He rushed for 73 yards to finish with 1,372 and turned a screen pass into a 59-yard reception, longest of his career.

The Jets' Curtis Martin rushed for 92 yards to increase his total to 1,308.

New York fell behind 20-7, then rallied with four consecutive scores -- a touchdown, two field goals and a safety -- to lead 21-20.

Pennington's 1-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Becht put the Jets ahead. On the conversion attempt, the ball was ruled to have hit the ground before Becht caught it.

"When things aren't going your way, you have to play perfect to get things going your way," Pennington said. "We didn't do that."

The Dolphins showed more offensive flair than usual -- they even ran a double reverse -- and scored on their first four possessions. Then came the late rally, giving Miami a sweep of the season series against its biggest rival.

That was small consolation, however.

"We didn't beat the good teams," linebacker Zach Thomas said. "The players let a lot of people down."


  • Williams finished with 392 carries, breaking the team record of 383 he set last year.
  • Ogunleye finished with 15 sacks, and teammate Jason Taylor had 13. Each had one Sunday.
  • The Dolphins didn't allow a 100-yard rusher this season.
  • Jets G Brandon Moore made his first career start.
  • Jets LB Mo Lewis had two tackles in his 200th NFL game.

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2003, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved
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Jets quarterback Chad Pennington is sacked by Dolphins defensive end Adewale Ogunleye.
Jets quarterback Chad Pennington is sacked by Dolphins defensive end Adewale Ogunleye. (AP)


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Scoring Summary
FGOlindo Mare 23 Yd, 7:33. Drive: 14 plays, 71 yards in 7:27.
FGOlindo Mare 43 Yd, 14:45. Drive: 6 plays, 61 yards in 2:34.
TDRicky Williams, 16 Yd run (Olindo Mare kick is good), 9:54. Drive: 6 plays, 54 yards in 2:48.
TDCurtis Martin, 8 Yd run (Doug Brien kick is good), 6:08. Drive: 7 plays, 80 yards in 3:46.
TDChris Chambers, 20 Yd pass from Jay Fiedler (Olindo Mare kick is good), 2:55. Drive: 5 plays, 48 yards in 3:13.
FGDoug Brien 36 Yd, 0:14. Drive: 13 plays, 62 yards in 2:41.
FGDoug Brien 22 Yd, 8:21. Drive: 12 plays, 60 yards in 6:39.
TDAnthony Becht, 1 Yd pass from Chad Pennington (Chad Pennington 2 Pt. Conversion pass to Anthony Becht failed), 8:58. Drive: 11 plays, 57 yards in 6:24.
FGOlindo Mare 22 Yd, 0:03. Drive: 9 plays, 45 yards in 2:53.
New York
C. Pennington22/2822110
C. Martin2492114
L. Jordan1202
S. Moss766023
C. Conway247045
J. Sowell543013
K. Lockett233017
A. Becht632112
J. Fiedler21/2932811
R. Williams2073116
J. Fiedler3605
C. Chambers1202
T. Minor1000
M. Turk1000
C. Chambers9153124
R. Williams472059
R. McMichael340027
D. Thompson333017
D. Lee230020
Complete Player Stats