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Dolphins impressed with their next foe

By MARC TOPKIN and Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 1, 2001


As great as Saturday's win against Indianapolis was for the Dolphins, they didn't spend much time enjoying it.

After praising his players for impressive efforts in the dramatic overtime victory, coach Dave Wannstedt quickly turned his attention to Saturday's division playoff game at Oakland, taking the unusual measure during a Sunday morning meeting of personally delivering a scouting report on the Raiders.

"I wanted to make sure the last thing they heard from me walking out of this building was talking about Rich Gannon and the Raiders," he said.

Wannstedt said he is extremely impressed with what he has seen of the AFC West champions.

"All you have to do is look at film on them," Wannstedt said. "We put up two stats -- they're leading the NFL in rushing and they're fifth stopping the run. That tells you they're a physical football team with a lot of talent. They won their division, they got a bye, they won 12 games.

"They're as talented as anybody we've played."

HAVE A BALL: Saturday's game balls went to Lamar Smith, O.J. McDuffie and the linemen on offense, Daryl Gardener and Patrick Surtain on defense, and Matt Turk and Trent Gamble on special teams.

FEELING FINE: The Dolphins reported no major injuries. Smith, who carried a playoff-record 40 times for 209 yards, has a left ankle sprain. Wide receiver Leslie Shepherd, inactive as he recovers from knee surgery, likely will return for Saturday's game.

HEAD SCRATCHER: Despite a Pro Bowl trio that led the NFL in rushing, passing and receiving, the Colts offense couldn't carry the load by itself, and the team again was left to explain its playoff exit after one game.

"We had our ups and downs," coach Jim Mora said Sunday. "We won 10 games and made the playoffs, which I feel is a darn good accomplishment. The thing I'm disappointed in is we're not still in the playoffs."

The Colts won the AFC East and got a first-round bye in 1999. They lost to Tennessee in sthe division round. This season they scrambled to reach the playoffs and lost in the wild-card round.

"As well as we played on offense ... you still have to have a reliable defense to play at the highest level," president Bill Polian said. "That's where we need to go."

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