Dolphins pick up first win, 31-3 over Chiefs
The Miami Dolphins had endured seven straight losses, each one seemingly more disheartening than the last.
There was the one-point loss at Cleveland in Week 2, when the season still held so much promise. The 15-point lead that evaporated in an 18-15 overtime loss to Denver two weeks ago. The seven-point lead that went away last week in a 20-17 defeat to the New York Giants.
It all made what transpired Sunday that much more satisfying.
Matt Moore threw for 244 yards and three touchdowns, two to tight end Anthony Fasano and another to Brandon Marshall. Reggie Bush ran for 92 yards and another score. The Dolphins' defense shut down the Kansas City Chiefs' offense, and the result was a 31-3 victory.
Finally, for the first time in 10 regular-season games.
''Instead of hanging around and waiting for the guys on the other side to screw it up, our team just put it in their own hands. That's what I've been waiting to see,'' beleagured Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said. ''That's the daring part.''
The Dolphins looked nothing like one of two winless teams left in the NFL on a sun-splashed day at Arrowhead Stadium - and the Chiefs looked nothing like a team that had won four straight.
Matt Cassel was 20 of 39 for 253 yards, despite facing a secondary missing cornerback Vontae Davis and that had backup Nolan Carroll leave several times with a hamstring injury.
The Dolphins' relentless front spent most of the afternoon in Cassel's face, sacking him five times and forcing the slow-footed quarterback to scramble nine more times. The Chiefs came into the game having allowed 13 sacks all season, tied for sixth-best in the league.
''We got beat in all three phases,'' Cassel said.
That the defeat came on the heels of an exhilerating 23-20 overtime win over San Diego, which gave Kansas City a share of the AFC West lead, made it all the more frustrating.
''It kind of looked like the beginning of the season,'' said veteran linebacker Derrick Johnson, referring to the Chiefs' losses to Buffalo and Detroit by a combined 89-10.
''You've got to be a pro,'' Johnson said. ''Whatever you have to do to get yourself ready to go, you've got to do it. We didn't do a good enough job.''
The result may have surprised everyone but the Dolphins.
After all, they've been in just about every game this season, leading seven of the eight. And with Moore gaining confidence, an athletic wide receiver corps and the re-emergence of Bush, the former No. 2 overall draft pick, Miami could pose a threat to everyone left on its schedule.
''They're a good team and they played really well,'' Chiefs linebacker Andy Studebaker said. ''You look at what they did as a team, and you can see it was a team win for them. They executed better than we did and that cost us the game.''
Things looked promising for Kansas City its opening possession, when it put together a grinding, 14-play, 53-yard drive that Ryan Succop finished off with a 43-yard field goal.
The Chiefs didn't do much after that.
Miami answered with a touchdown later in the first quarter when nobody pick up Fasano off the line of scrimmage and Moore hit him from 3 yards out. The TD started a run of 31 straight points for Miami, more than it had scored in any game this season.
On the Dolphins' ensuing possession, Moore hit fullback Charles Clay for gains of 21 and 22 yards, and then found Fasano open down the sideline for a 35-yard touchdown completion and a 14-3 lead.
The Dolphins' offense really hit the accelerator in the third quarter, when Moore found Marshall for a 14-yard touchdown pass, and Bush shook loose for a 28-yard scoring run, his first touchdown on the ground since Nov. 15, 2009.
Any chance of a comeback ended early in the fourth quarter, when Kansas City failed to convert on fourth down at the Dolphins 3. The Chiefs also couldn't score on fourth-and-goal at the 5-yard line in the closing minutes.
''This was not the kind of performance we expected or wanted,'' Chiefs coach Todd Haley said. ''This was a very dangerous team that was playing a lot better than their record.''
Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers put it more succinctly.
''We got beat,'' he said. ''We got beat pretty bad by the Miami Dolphins. At home.''
NOTES: LB Jason Taylor played in his 196th game for Miami, tied with OL Bob Kuechenberg for second place on the franchise list. ... The three points allowed by the Dolphins were the fewest since they beat Buffalo 16-3 on Dec. 7, 2008. ... Jackie Battle carried 14 times for 40 yards for the Chiefs. Cassel was their second-leading rushing with nine carries for 38 yards. ... The Chiefs have lost eight of their last 10 games against Miami.