Miami wins 21-13, surviving a late rally against Indianapolis, whose new coach makes his home debut.
By DARRELL FRY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 16, 2002
INDIANAPOLIS -- Everything was there Sunday for a memorable moment for Colts coach Tony Dungy. A sellout crowd for his home debut. His father was present. And his team on the verge of completing a dramatic late comeback.
But the Dolphins, who led 21-3 entering the fourth quarter, held on to spoil Dungy's big day, 21-13 at the RCA Dome.
"We didn't play well and that was the thing that you're disappointed about more than anything," said Dungy, whose team dropped to 1-1 after winning its opener a week ago at Jacksonville. "When we play well, we're going to win games. When we don't play well, we're going to have a tough time winning."
The Colts had it tough and then some. Quarterback Peyton Manning threw three interceptions, two inadvertently batted in the air by receivers. And the offense scored one touchdown in five red zone trips, including a first-and-goal from the 2 in which it was stopped on four straight runs into the line. In some ways, it was typical for the Colts. They've lost four straight to Miami and seven of their past nine. Indianapolis hasn't beaten Miami here since Dec. 14, 1997.
The Colts' perennially explosive offense had no problem moving the ball, outgaining the Dolphins 432 yards to 342. But turnovers and red zone inefficiency undermined their efforts, wasting big days from running back Edgerrin James (138 yards rushing and 82 receiving) and receiver Marvin Harrison (11 catches for 144 yards and a touchdown). "That was the difference in the game. We went up and down the field as much as they did, but they scored touchdowns with theirs and we didn't score at all at times and had to settle for field goals," Dungy said after his first regular-season contest in Indianapolis since being fired by the Bucs after last season.
The Dolphins, whose new offense under coordinator Norv Turner sparkled for the second straight week, moved the ball behind running back Ricky Williams. He plowed for 132 yards on 24 carries and caught two passes for 62 yards: a 52-yard swing pass that nearly went for a touchdown and a 10-yarder that did.
Miami scored touchdowns on three of its first four possessions and only punted twice before the fourth quarter. The Dolphins had drives of 73, 49 and 71 yards, the last one taking barely more than two minutes, and all powered by Williams, the former Texas star who topped 100 yards for the second straight game.
"I took it upon myself to make sure I did whatever I could to get back to my Texas days where I did break a lot of runs," Williams said. "I got the ball and I felt like my old self again."
Despite trailing by 18 at the half, the Colts nearly rallied for overtime. After a Jay Fiedler interception, the Colts drove to the Miami 2-yard line early in the third quarter. Four times they ran James with no luck.
They got into the end zone early in the fourth thanks to two defensive penalties that fueled an 80-yard drive. Manning hit Harrison on a 16-yard touchdown that cut Miami's lead to 21-10.
On their next possession, the Colts marched 71 yards in a little more than three minutes to get a 23-yard field goal that pulled them to within 21-13.
The Colts got a chance for the last score after forcing a punt and taking over at their 16 with 2:15 left. They ran three times within that drive, which moved the ball. But with no timeouts left, those plays ate up precious time.
Manning hit Qadry Ismail for a 6-yard gain to the Miami 6 and spiked the ball to stop the clock with 2 seconds remaining. Manning tried to hit Ismail on a crossing route similar to his earlier 6-yarder, but safety Brock Marion stretched out his right hand and batted the ball away.
"We just came up short," a visibly dejected Manning said.