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Dolphins Shutout Rams 14-0 - Oct 18, 1998
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The Dolphins recorded their second shutout of the year today as they beat the St. Louis Rams 14-0 in Miami. The short story of this game is that the Dolphins' defense smothered the Rams offense and the Dolphins rediscovered their running game, gaining over 140 yards on the ground. Overall, it looked a lot like the Steelers game a few weeks ago, except that they managed to avoid the rain today.

Klaus Wilmsmeyer did play today for the Dolphins, as did Sam Madison and Calvin Jackson. Horace Copeland was designated inactive for the game, along with Ron Moore, Brent Smith, Mike Sheldon, Danny Stubbs, Anthony Harris and Hendrick Lusk.

The weather was clear and warm, around 85 degrees at gametime. There was a brisk wind, from 15 to almost 30 mph, although that did not seem to be a factor in the game.

The game started with the Dolphins receiving the opening kickoff, which John Avery took in the endzone for a touchback. Starting at their 20, OJ McDuffie dropped the first pass of the day, but a couple of decent runs by Karim and a short pass to McDuffie moved the ball out to the Dolphins' 45. However, after a short run by Karim, Gadsden couldn't hold on to a very high pass and on third down, Ed Perry was hit just as the ball arrived and couldn't hold on.

Klaus Wilmsmeyer punted for the Dolphins to the Rams and after the ball bounced down inside the 10 yard line, Nate Jacquet managed to get his hands on it and downed it at the two. Starting at their 2, the Rams got 5 yards in two carries by Holcombe, but Jason Taylor deflected a pass on third down and the Rams punted from their own 8 to McDuffie, who took the ball at the 50 and returned it to the Rams' 35.

At this point, the Dolphins were in excellent position, and a 15 yard run on first down by Avery put the Dolphins down to the Rams' 21. From there, on first down, Marino attempted to go to the endzone on a deep crossing route. Unfortunately, the receiver was double covered and the ball was intercepted by a Rams' safety who had stationed himself on the goal line. He ran the interception back to the Rams' 25, where he was tackled by Drayton.

` The Rams started from their 25 when Banks was forced to scramble for four yards. On this drive, Isaac Bruce would catch two passes for 14 yards and Holcombe would run twice for 2 yards, but a false start penalty would take away 5 yards. This then left the Rams with a 3rd and 6 from their 40. On this play, Banks couldn't find anybody open and held the ball long enough that Lorenzo Bromell would get around his man and sack Banks. From what I could see, Bromell, Armstrong and Mixon all arrived at Banks about the same time, but Bromell got the credit for the sack. Armstrong and Mixon would get credit for sacks later in the game.

The Rams punted to T-Buck at the 17, and he returned it to the 28, where Marino started this drive with a 14 yard pass to Drayton. Then a 6 yard run by Avery and a 5 yard pass to McDuffie moved the ball to the Rams 47. However, after a pass to Pritchett was slightly overthrown, Avery slipped on the grass and fell down for a 4 yard loss on 2nd down. Then, on third down, James Brown had a false start penalty called on him and the Dolphins now faced 3rd and 19 at their 44. Marino tried to hit Perry on a deep slant, but the linebacker on that side had Perry well covered and even got both hands on the ball, but couldn't hold on.

Wilmsmeyer punted to the Rams' Eddie Kinnison, who took the ball at the 10 and returned it to the 15, where newcomer Todd Doxzon hit him and forced the ball out. The Rams recovered the fumble, however and started from their 19 trying a deep pass to JT Thomas, which was overthrown, but Terrell Buckley was called for illegal contact on the play and the Rams got a 1st and 10 at their 24, where Amp Lee ran for 8 yards on first down to their 32. At this point, the first quarter ended with no score.

At this point in the game, I was asking myself why the Dolphins weren't running more than they were. So far, their running seemed very effective, but the Dolphins had only run 6 times and had called 10 pass plays.

The second quarter opened with Robert Jones and Zach Thomas apparently getting Holcombe for a loss of 4 yards, but Jones was penalized for grabbing the facemask and that moved the Rams out to their 43, where Banks hit Bruce for 8 yards on first down to the Miami 49. On second down, Gardener stacked up Holcombe for a yard loss and Jason Taylor batted down a pass on third down to force the Rams to punt.

The punt bounced into the endzone and the Dolphins started on their 20. From there I got my wish as Karim ran 3 times, but he could only gain 9 yards and so the Dolphins punted back to the Rams, who started at their 26 after Kinnison returned the ball 3 yards. On first down, Banks again couldn't find anyone open and Derrick Rodgers got a coverage sack while coming on the blitz. After a short gain by Holcombe, the Rams were penalized twice in a row for false starts and faced a 3rd and 22 at their 14. Banks did find Isaac Bruce for 19 yards in the right flat, but Brock Marion took him down 3 yards shy of the first down and the Rams punted again.

Terrell Buckley took the ball at the Dolphins' 7 and tip-toed up the sideline to the 19, where Miami took over. Avery ran twice for 4 and then 2 yards, but Perry was penalized for a false start on 3rd and 4 and then on 3rd and 9, Marino couldn't get the ball to Oronde Gadsden and the Dolphins were forced to punt.

The punt was taken by Kinnison and he made what appeared to be a very long return, dodging in and out along the sideline all the way from the Rams' 23 to the Dolphins' 15 yard line. However, two Rams' players were called for holding on that play and the ball was brought back to the Rams' 23. A 3 yard draw to Amp Lee was followed by a short pass to the tight end, but Buckley was penalized for defensive holding and that gave the Rams an automatic first down at their 31.

Shane Burton batted down Banks' pass on first down and after Amp Lee got 5 yards up the middle on second down, Banks dropped back to pass on third down, but Trace Armstrong got around his man and took Banks down for a sack. The Rams punted away on 4th down from their 35 and T-Buck took the ball at the Dolphins 23 and jinked and zig-zagged his way up the field to the Rams 46, giving the Dolphins excellent field position.

Now, with 3:18 left in the first half, the Dolphins started at the Rams' 46 and a crossing pass to Lamar Thomas plus a 5 yard run by Karim moved the ball to the Rams 33. Then, Marino hit Thomas for 11 more yards down to the 22 for a first down as the 2 minute warning sounded.

The first play after the two minute warning sounded was the short swing pass to Karim, which he dropped after it hit him right in the hands. However, Marino then hit Drayton twice in succession for short gains of 5 and 7 yards respectively and that left the Dolphins with a first and goal at the 10 yard line.

Now, with 1:03 remaining in the first half, Marino's first pass to Drayton was a little high. Karim redeemed himself by catching Marino's next pass at the 3, but was taken down there and on third and goal, Dan tried to hit Lamar Thomas in the endzone, but the ball went wide. However, the Rams were penalized for pass interference on the play as two of their defensive backs had knocked down Thomas before the ball got there.

This gave the Dolphins a first and goal at the one. Unfortunately, at this point, there were only 22 seconds left and the Dolphins only had 1 timeout remaining. The ran Karim on first down, but he was stuffed and the Dolphins called their last timeout. On second and goal, the Rams came with a big blitz and Marino barely managed to get the ball off, throwing it away, but in the vicinity of Ed Perry.

Then on third and goal from the 1 with 11 seconds remaining, Marino dropped back in the pocket and lofted the ball high to the right corner of the endzone where Oronde Gadsden outjumped the Rams' defensive back to get his hands on the ball. As he was coming down, the safety was all over him, but he managed to hold on to the ball for the touchdown. It was a spectacular leaping grab on a play that I've been hoping the Dolphins would use to Gadsden a lot this year.

The kickoff was a short kick, which was downed by the Rams at their 35 and after Banks knelt down once, the first half was over with the Dolphins leading 7-0. The Dolphins were back to using the formula for winning that they had used in the first 3 games, which was a stifling defense, a running game and a conservative offense.

The third quarter opened with the Rams returning the kickoff from their endzone, only to be taken down by Jerry Wilson at the 12 yard line. On first down at the 12, Tim Bowens jumped offsides, giving the Rams an easy 5 yards. Then, after Holcombe was stuffed twice for 1 yard, Jason Taylor jumped offsides, giving the Rams a first down at their 24. And incomplete pass and a short run by Holcombe forced the Rams into a 3rd and 6 at their 28 and he completed a 10 yard pass to Proehl, giving them a first down at their 38.

After Amp Lee and Holcombe got a total of 6 yards on 1st and 2nd downs, a pass to Bruce sailed over his head, but Terrell Buckley was called for holding again and that gave the Rams another first down at their 49. A short pass and run by Holcombe moved the Rams to a 3rd and less than 1 at the Miami 42, but the Rams tried to fool the Dolphins and instead of going for the 1 yards, they tried this big play. This time, Buckley had good coverage on Bruce and the ball was overthrown, leaving the Rams with 4th and 1 and they elected to punt.

McDuffie called for a fair catch at the Dolphins' 11 and after Karim was stuffed twice trying to run, Marino's third down screen pass to McDuffie only gained 5 yards and the Dolphins punted back to the Rams, with the punt going out of bounds at the Rams' 48. The Rams moved down to the Dolphins' 40 on Holcombe's 8 yard run and a short pass to Holcombe, but at the Dolphins' 40, Banks overthrew Proehl deep on first down and his second down pass to JT Thomas was dropped. Then he tried to find Bruce on third down deep down the sideline, but again the ball was way overthrown and now facing a 4th and 10, the Rams decided to punt.

The Dolphins started at their 20 after a touchback, but after Avery gained nothing on first down and Marino was sacked by a blitzing safety on 2nd down, the Dolphins got 18 yards on a pass to Bernie Parmalee. Unfortunately, they needed 20 for a first down, so they punted from their 28. It was a long punt and it was taken by Kinnison at the 16 and returned to the 27, where the Rams started again.

After a false start moved the Rams back to the 22, Jason Taylor forced a bad throw on first down with pressure on Banks and Jones and Bromell stopped Amp Lee cold on 2nd down. However, on 3rd and 15, Banks rolled to his left and hit Bruce with a 15 yard pass to keep the drive going. However, after a short pass to their tight end and a very short run by Holcombe, the Rams were facing a 3rd and 3. On this play, it was Shane Burton who knocked down Banks' pass at the line of scrimmage and the Rams were forced to punt once more.

The punt bounced into the endzone and the Dolphins started at their 20 with a 5 yard run by Karim followed by a 4 yard pass to Gadsden. At this point, the third quarter ended with the Dolphins still up 7-0 and having a 3rd and 1 at their own 29.

To open the 4th quarter, Karim ran for a first down to the Dolphins' 33 with some very good effort. He was hit at the line of scrimmage and drove forward for 4 yards. From there, Marino badly under threw McDuffie on first down and on 2nd and 10, he tried to hit Lamar Thomas deep down the right sideline. Unfortunately for Thomas, Todd Lyght was on him like a blanket. Fortunately for Thomas, Lyght got there ahead of the ball and the referee saw it, calling the penalty on Lyght for defensive pass interference.

This gave the Dolphins a first and 10 at the Rams' 44 and the Dolphins ran Karim 3 times in a row, gaining 4 yards, 5 yards and then 10 yards down to the Rams' 25. Karim sat down and Avery came in, rushing for 4 yards and then for 12 yards down to the Rams' 9. On first and goal at the 9, Karim came back and ran for 6 yards to the 3, but the play was called back after a holding penalty on Richmond Webb.

Now facing a 1st and goal from the 19, Marino dropped back to pass, while Avery came out of the backfield to the left and ran down the sideline, covered well by a linebacker. Marino threw the ball perfectly and Avery leaped up, making a great catch at about the 2, where he was hit by the linebacker while crossing the goalline for a touchdown. This was Avery's first NFL touchdown and it put the Dolphins' up 14-0 with about 10:30 left to play in the game.

On the kickoff, the ball was kicked short and a Rams linebacker took it at their 19, returning it to the 29. From there, the Rams began their best drive of the day, starting with a 12 yard pass to the tight end. Amp Lee then ran for 9 yards and 3 yards, moving the Rams into Miami territory at the 47. Pressure on Banks forced him to scramble on the next play, but he gained 13 yards down to the Miami 34 and added 14 more yards on the play after that with a pass to Bruce, down to the Miami 20.

On 1st and 10 from the 20, Banks overthrew Kennison in the endzone. Then, on 2nd down, Ricky Proehl came wide open in the back of the endzone as Terrell Buckley had slipped and fallen in coverage, but Banks overthrew Proehl. This was probably the straw that broke the Rams' back, because that would have been a sure touchdown if Banks had been on target. On 3rd and 10 from the 20, Banks couldn't find anyone open and Armstrong broke free of his blocker and sacked Banks for a 4 yard loss.

With time running down and the Rams down by 2 touchdowns, they elected to go for it on 4th and 14 from the Miami 24. Banks dropped back, lofted the ball to the right sideline and Eddie Kennison caught it at about the 5 and stepped into the endzone for an apparent touchdown. However, Kennison had stepped out of bounds before catching the pass and had come back in and that made him an ineligible receiver. The referees called the penalty an illegal touch - pass.

At this point, what happened is a little unclear, but it was one of two things. If the TV announcers are to be believed, the penalty was a 5 yard penalty and came with a loss of down. Since it had been 4th down, that would have meant that the Dolphins got the ball and 5 yards.

However, on the play-by-play at NFL.com, it records that Miami declined the penalty. I believe this is what actually happened because I don't believe that this penalty comes with a loss of down. I believe that what happened is that the penalty was called and because Kennison had gone out of bounds and had come back in, his reception did not count and was recorded as an incompletion because he was ineligible, which is the way it appears in the play-by-play. By declining the penalty, the Dolphins denied the Rams the opportunity to replay 4th down and took over at the line of scrimmage, which was the 24.

On 1st and 10 from the 24, Karim took the handoff, cut back from the left to the right, zipped through the secondary out to the sideline and ran all the way to the endzone for 76 yards and an apparent touchdown. However a penalty was called on Mark Dixon for holding. The replay was unclear, but it sure didn't look like holding to me and I think that Karim got robbed of his best run ever.

Nevertheless, now facing 1st and 20 from their 14, the Dolphins ran John Avery into the same hole and Avery zigged and zagged, then turned on the gas and raced 44 yards to the Rams' 42, where he was unable to avoid the safety. At the 42, Avery took the handoff and promptly slipped and fell, losing 2 yards. He got 3 yards back on 2nd down, but when Marino tried to get the ball to Parmalee on 3rd and 9, the blitz got to him and he was hit at the throw, with the ball falling incomplete.

During the previous series, the Rams had used all their timeouts and as the Dolphins punted to the Rams, the Rams had no timeouts remaining and 5:03 left to play in the game. They started at their 20 after a fair catch was made by Kennison and worked the 2 minute offense. Two passes to Amp Lee moved the ball from the 20 to the Dolphins' 48, where a bad snap was recovered by Banks as he scrambled for 4 yards. However, on 2nd and 6 at the Dolphins' 44, Banks tried to hit Ricky Proehl on the down and in. Proehl was covered well by Surtain, who took the inside shot at the ball and came up with the interception, his second of the year.

The Dolphins ran the ball 3 times from their 30, running 2 minutes off the clock, but gaining only 3 yards. As the 2 minute warning sounded for the end of the game, the Dolphins now faced a 4th and 7 from their 33. Wilmsmeyer punted after the 2 minute warning and the ball bounced down around the Rams' 20, but came back high in the air towards the Dolphins' end of the field. As it came down, several Rams players were under it and it hit one of them in the back. Once it had touched this player, it was a live ball and Bernie Parmalee alertly recovered it for the Dolphins.

Now, with less than 2 minutes remaining in the game and with the Rams having no timeouts, the Dolphins were content to let Dan kneel down 3 times in a row for the 14-0 victory.


Obviously, the defensive effort today was outstanding. There was constant pressure on Banks all game long and his receivers were almost never open. At least 2 and probably 3 of the 4 sacks that the Dolphins got were coverage sacks.

Also, the Rams' running game was shut down and their big play man Isaac Bruce didn't make any big plays today. He did have a number of catches, but the Dolphins didn't give up any home runs this week. In fact, the longest reception by the Rams was 19 yards. The Dolphins gave up no plays over 20 yards long.

The running game returned today and John Avery was more involved in the game than he had been, showing his versatility in catching the touchdown pass and getting that one big 44 yard run, along with several other nice runs.

Pass protection for Dan was pretty good against a team that was averaging 4 sacks per game and that had gotten 9 on the Bills several weeks ago. Dan was only sacked once and usually had plenty of time to throw. Punt and kickoff coverage were good, with the Dolphins forcing a fumble on one punt and recovering the inadvertently touched ball on the final punt in the 4th quarter, which sealed the game.

At the end of the game, the team led in almost every statistical category, including time of possession.


The biggest disappointment today was the number of penalties the Dolphins drew. There were 10 total penalties and while some of them were the inevitable consequence of the bump-and-run coverage that the Dolphins play, and I think that the holding penalty on Dixon that negated Karim's 76 yard run was a bad call, 10 is about 5 too many.

The receivers were having some trouble getting open today and there were still some dropped passes. If a ball hits a receiver in the hands, he should catch it.

And while I thought the play selection was pretty balanced, I would have liked to have seen more running early when it was working.


Dan Marino was only 14 of 26 for 114 yards, but he did throw two very nice touchdown passes. He had a few errant passes, but he did what was necessary to win today.

Karim Abdul-Jabbar had 17 carries for 59 yards. which is a 3.5 yard per carry average, and he made some very nice cutbacks and did some tough running in some tough situations today. He also caught 2 passes for 12 yards, but did drop another that was in his hands.

John Avery's 44 yard run in the 4th quarter was terrific and that boosted his total to 85 yards on 11 carries for a 7.7 ypc average. His best day as a Dolphin so far also included a 19 yard touchdown reception, where he made a very nice leaping catch despite being pretty well covered.

Stanley Pritchett did some nice blocking, but caught no passes and didn't carry the ball.

Bernie Parmalee carried the ball once today for no gain, but he did catch an 18 yard pass.

Troy Drayton led all receivers with 3 catches for 26 yards, but didn't score this week.

OJ McDuffie also caught 3 passes, but only for a total of 14 yards, with his longest being 5 yards. He also dropped a ball that was in his hands. He had one punt return for 14 yards in the first quarter that was very good and he made one fair catch.

Lamar Thomas continues to give maximum effort and although he didn't score today, he did catch two passes for 20 yards and drew 2 pass interference penalties.

Oronde Gadsden had just 2 catches for a grand total of 5 yards. However, one of those catches was the terrific leaping grab he made over the defensive back in the endzone for a touchdown.

Ed Perry played a fair amount today, but didn't catch any passes even though he had at least two thrown to him. He was not getting open much today.

On defense, Zach Thomas led the team with 9 total tackles, although only 3 of those were solo today. He had 3 tackles for negative yardage.

Robert Jones also enjoyed a good day against his former team, getting 8 tackles and a pass defensed. 4 of Jones' tackles were for zero or negative yardage.

Brock Marion was 3rd on the tackle list with 5 total.

Tim Bowens had 4 total tackles, but drew that flagrant offsides penalty at the beginning of the 2nd half. However, he and Gardener kept stuffing the middle against the run.

Calvin Jackson had 3 solo tackles, but missed a tackle on the tight end that gave up a first down.

Trace Armstrong regained the lead in the sack race from Jason Taylor with 2 sacks today. That gives him six sacks on the year and puts him one ahead of Jason Taylor.

Lorenzo Bromell got 3 tackles today and had a good day pressuring Tony Banks, getting a sack. That gives him 4 for the year.

Darryl Gardener had 3 tackles today and along with Bowens, he stuffed the middle against the run well.

Terrell Buckley had a mixed afternoon with 2 tackles while drawing several defensive interference penalties. He also had some nice punt returns and ultimately did not give up any big plays.

Jerry Wilson also had 2 tackles and a special teams tackle.

Jason Taylor did not get any sacks today, but he had two assisted tackles, put pressure on Tony Banks consistently and knocked down two passes at the line of scrimmage.

Shane Burton had 2 solo tackles and also knocked down 2 passes.

Sam Madison was very quiet today - at least, in the stats. He had one tackle and no passes defensed, but he also wasn't beaten on any big plays.

Kenny Mixon had another good day, getting one solo tackle and being in good position.

Derrick Rodgers' big moment came when he sacked Tony Banks on a blitz. Other than that, Rodgers had 1 tackle.

Barron Tanner had one tackle of his own today.

Todd Doxzon entered the lineup as a flyer on punt coverage and is credited with forcing the fumble by Kennison in the first half and making a special teams tackle. Being on special teams is the first step to more playing time.

Larry Izzo had 2 special teams tackles today.

Patrick Surtain only recorded one statistic today - he intercepted a Tony Banks pass late in the 4th quarter to end the Rams last drive. That gives him 2 on the year.

Klaus Wilmsmeyer returned and punted pretty well today, although he's still inconsistent. He averaged 42.1 yards per punt and put 2 inside the 20.

Olindo Mare' put one kickoff in the endzone for a touchback and didn't miss any extra points.


There were no significant injuries today, although Stanley Pritchett was banged up on one play.

My Comments:

Going into this game, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. The Rams are a dangerous team as they proved with their victories over Buffalo and the Jets. I wasn't really concerned about a letdown as much as I was worried about the big plays that hit the Dolphins on Monday night.

However, the Rams got no big plays today. Some of that is attributable to the fact that Mark Brunell doesn't play for the Rams, but some of it is due to the fact that the Dolphins just played better on defense this week.

And overall, I thought that the team played pretty well today. I was disappointed with the lack of passing production, but at least I now know that that is more of a conscious choice by the coaches than some failure to be able to pass. The Dolphins proved that against the Jaguars on Monday night.

The running game was inconsistent today, but it was definitely a threat all game long. Avery finally got the carries he deserved and made the most of them. And Karim looked good on that 76 yard run. It's such a shame that it was called back.

The defense, of course, is looking superb and the pass coverage and pass rush have improved so much since last year that it looks like a completely different team, even though most of the players are the same.

This was a good win for the Dolphins today and emphasized the changed character of the team. Certainly, the defense is much improved from last year and the offense, while doing things differently than it did last year, is going to get the job done more often than not. They are still about 2 playmakers away from being really powerful, but they're getting a little better each week.

Next up, of course, is the Patriots. At this point in the season, I think that it's a good thing that the game will be in Miami. The Dolphins play well there and this game against the Rams will be a good springboard into next week.

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