Winning can be fun, as the Dolphins are discovering.
Brown was still grinning moments later when he reached the end zone. And he wore a smile in the locker room after Miami pulled off its second successive upset by beating San Diego 17-10.
“We can compete, and we’re starting to realize that,” Brown said.
The Dolphins won Sunday with ball control, a smothering defense and a few offensive frills. Brown scored the decisive touchdown from the single-wing formation the Dolphins revived two weeks ago, and a goal-line stand in the fourth quarter preserved a seven-point lead.
With back-to-back wins for the first time since November 2006, the Dolphins are 2-2 in the Bill Parcells era. That’s double their victory total for all of last season, when they went 1-15.
“We’re proud of what we did, but it’s just another step,” defensive end Vonnie Holliday said. “Hopefully we’re going to raise some brows. Hopefully people will start to pay some attention.”
Defending AFC West champion San Diego fell to 2-3 for the second year in a row. The Chargers remained winless in six visits to Miami since a memorable overtime playoff victory in January 1982.
The single wing was less explosive than in the Dolphins’ win at New England, but running back Brown took a direct snap 11 times on running plays that netted 49 yards and Miami’s second touchdown. Other formations were also effective— Chad Pennington threw for 228 yards, and Brown ran for 125.
“It’s not about the formation,” Brown said. “It’s about execution.”
Miami’s defense allowed only three third-down conversions and held LaDainian Tomlinson to 35 yards on 12 carries. The Dolphins were nursing a seven-point lead when they stopped Tomlinson up the middle for no gain on fourth-and-goal at the 1 in the first minute of the final period.
“It was one of our favorite plays down there, and we have been successful in doing it,” Tomlinson said. “They get paid too, and they did a good job of snuffing out the play.”
Said Holliday: “They lined up as we expected, and they ran where we expected.”
The Chargers came into the game leading the NFL with a scoring average of 34.5, but they had a hard time getting the ball away from the Dolphins, who kept it nearly 37 minutes. After building a 14-point lead, the Dolphins didn’t score in the second half, but they consumed the clock with two long drives, including a 60-yard march that ran out the final 5:55.
“We’ve been down this road and found a way to win these games in the second half,” San Diego coach Norv Turner said. “But we weren’t able to get it done today. They did a great job on third down keeping us off the field.”
Much of the Dolphins’ success was because of Brown’s elusiveness, which was especially evident on their final play of the first half. When they reached the San Diego 5 in the final minute, a grinning Brown took the snap and started up the middle, then hit the brakes and broke out wide. A block by Ricky Williams sprung Brown into the clear, and he scored untouched for a 17-3 lead.
After Dan Carpenter missed a 42-yard field goal attempt that would have put Miami ahead 20-3, the Chargers mounted a 68-yard drive capped by Philip Rivers’ 17-yard touchdown pass to Chris Chambers. That made the score 17-10.
Davone Bess lost a fumble on the ensuing kickoff—the only turnover of the game—and San Diego moved to the 1. But on fourth down, when the Chargers went for a tying touchdown, Tomlinson was stopped for no gain by a swarm of Dolphins, with Holliday and Channing Crowder leading the way.
“We want respect,” Miami safety Yeremiah Bell said. “After last year, going 1-15, we really don’t have much. How you get it is you go out and you take it, and I think we took a step in that direction today.”
Chambers left the game after hurting his lower left leg on a reception on the final play of the third period. X-rays were planned, but after the game Turner said he had no update, and Chambers wasn’t in the locker room. … The Chargers’ Mike Scifres averaged 55.8 yards on six punts. … The field held up well despite a rainy weekend that left it literally under water Saturday night following the Florida State-Miami game.