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Just biding their time

By DARRELL FRY
© St. Petersburg Times,
published December 4, 2001

The Dolphins may not win the AFC East, but they've been one of the most entertaining teams to watch the past few weeks, pulling off impressive back-to-back comeback wins.

Miami scored 21 points in the final six minutes to beat Denver 21-10 Sunday, a week after scoring 24 fourth-quarter points to rally past Buffalo 34-27. Miami has pulled off five fourth-quarter comebacks this season.

"There's not much panic," linebacker Zach Thomas said of his team's rallies. "We know things are going to go our way."

HOME IS WHERE THE LOSSES ARE: It was another tough week for home teams. Going into Monday night's game, home teams were 7-6, with the most surprising home losses turned in by Oakland, Cleveland and Washington.

DID YOU SEE THAT?: Questionable calls affected several outcomes, but the most glaring probably was the no-call on Pittsburgh cornerback Dewayne Washington for an apparent pass interference on Vikings receiver Randy Moss in the end zone in the final moments.

If that wasn't pass interference, Marshall Faulk isn't fast.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Bills receiver Eric Moulds after the Bills' 35-0 loss to the 49ers dropped them to 1-10:

"It's hard to put your finger on what it's going to take for this team to turn the corner. It's difficult right now to even talk about it."

SHOWDOWNS: Two huge games Sunday could affect the NFC West and NFC Central races.

San Francisco (9-2) plays at St. Louis (9-2), and Chicago (9-2) plays at Green Bay (7-3 before Monday's game).

Also, check out the Jets (7-4) at the Steelers (9-2). The Jets are a game behind the first-place Dolphins (8-3) in the AFC East, and the Steelers are 1 1/2 games ahead of second-place Baltimore (8-4).

STAT OF THE DAY: If the Rams, who lead the league in turnovers (32), need extra motivation to cut down on their fumbles and interceptions, here it is. In the two games the Rams had no turnovers (against Miami and Atlanta), they outscored their opponents 77-16.

DID YOU KNOW?: Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith, who had 102 yards Sunday against the Redskins, has two other 100-yard days in his past 13 games. Both are against the Redskins.

THINK HE CAN GET TO 10?: Colts quarterback Peyton Manning had a much better day Sunday than he did the week before, when coach Jim Mora ripped him in the media. But Manning still managed to have an interception returned for a touchdown, the sixth time that has happened this season.

GROUNDED WITHOUT CHANDLER: When quarterback Chris Chandler was knocked out of the game against the Rams, Falcons fans couldn't have known what was going to happen, but they had to know it wasn't going to be good.

Since the 1999 season, the Falcons are 2-13 when Chandler is knocked out or doesn't play because of injury. DON'T ASK US AGAIN: Two questions were fully answered Sunday.

Yes, Raiders receiver Jerry Rice still can make game-altering plays. And Cardinals quarterback Jake Plummer definitely has the goods, despite not leading the Cardinals anywhere and having a poor interception-to-touchdown-pass ratio (92 to 67).

DESTINY'S TEAM: Are the Bears kissed by fate or what?

In pulling out another close game, the Bears saw Lions kicker Jason Hanson, one of the league's most accurate kickers, miss three field goals and quarterback Charlie Batch, who was eating Chicago alive (18-of-28 for 214 yards), go out with a separated shoulder in the third quarter.

The clincher was when the Bears, lined up to punt on fourth and 6 in the fourth quarter, got the first down after the Lions were offsides, setting up fourth and 1. The Bears converted to sustain the winning drive.

JUST A THOUGHT: Jacksonville coach Tom Coughlin would be crazy not to dump the Jaguars for the Notre Dame job.

Not only are the Jags sucking wind, they have huge salary cap problems, meaning rebuilding this mess could take quite a while.

-- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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