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Williams, Dolphins outrace Chargers

©Associated Press
November 25, 2002

MIAMI -- Ricky Williams had 83 yards rushing at halftime when he lobbied quarterback Ray Lucas for more carries.

"I'm a beast in the second half," Williams told Lucas.

As Lucas later noted, Williams was a beast for all four quarters Sunday, rushing for 143 yards and two touchdowns against the league's third-ranked run defense to help the Dolphins defeat the Chargers 30-3.

The league's leading rusher, San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson, had a season-low 45 yards on 14 carries.

Williams passed 1,000 yards on the season in the third quarter, then surpassed 100 for the game on his next carry. His rushing total was the highest this season against the Chargers.

"We never thought in our wildest dreams that he'd run over us like he did," safety Rodney Harrison said. "He had a huge game. We couldn't stop him."

James McKnight turned a short pass into a 77-yard gain, the Dolphins' longest play since 1993. Lucas, who had started 0-3 replacing an injured Jay Fiedler, threw for 194 yards and won for the second week in a row to help Miami remain atop the AFC East.

"Right now we're pretty good, but that's just today," said Williams, who guaranteed two weeks ago Miami would make the playoffs. "We've got our confidence back and it feels good. We've got to keep it going."

The Chargers, who gained a season-low 144 yards, lost for the fourth time in seven games after starting 4-0. They've lost five in a row in Miami since their last road win over the Dolphins nearly 21 years ago, and coach Marty Schottenheimer fell to 1-9 in Miami.

"The performance of our team was obviously very disappointing," Schottenheimer said. "I would not have thought they would have had that much success running the ball against our front seven. Their running game was just what we expected, but they blocked us."

Williams carried 29 times and reached 100 yards for the sixth time this season, breaking the team record set by Delvin Williams in 1978. The ground game helped Miami build an advantage of nearly 12 minutes in time of possession.

But the Dolphins used their full arsenal to score on all four first-half possessions to take a 20-3 lead.

McKnight scored his first touchdown of the season on a 20-yard reception. Robert Baker, released by the Dolphins four times since 1999, finally made his first NFL reception for 17 yards to set up their second.

McKnight's long gainer came on the final play of the third quarter. He caught the ball as he fell, then got up as he was hit by Alex Molden and sprinted down the sideline to the 5, setting up Olindo Mare's third and final field goal.

Turnovers led to 10 Miami points, while the Dolphins had no turnovers for the second week in a row.

"If we don't turn the ball over, no one can beat us," said Lucas, who might make one more start before Fiedler returns from a thumb injury.

Lucas went 14-for-23 and threw for one touchdown.

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