Sparano exhales after Dolphins snap losing slide
There was a moment on Sunday when Tony Sparano looked around the Miami Dolphins sideline, and realized he was getting mocked by one of his best players.
It was anything but disrespectful.
A few minutes remained, the Dolphins' long-awaited first victory of the year was sealed and Sparano was still snarling and growling like he was unaware of the fact his team was about to close out a 31-3 win over Kansas City. And with that, Jason Taylor started laughing at his boss, sort of telling him to relax and enjoy.
''That was kind of the message I got,'' Sparano said. ''Kind of like, `Coach, we're all right here.'''
For the first time all season, the Dolphins were all right. More than all right, actually, winning by 28 points for the first time since October 2009. So while his team had Monday off as a reward, Sparano was back at work.
The seven-game losing streak to start the season was over, and for now anyway, the talk about his job status and whether the team should tank games to try and secure the best possible draft pick is on hold.
''Beats the hell out of the alternative, you know?'' Sparano said Monday. ''I've had to come here for a lot of these things and it's been a little different so it's satisfying. I said it last night, the most satisfying thing is getting the chance to see those guys smile. Validate some of the things that you've been talking about. And we're 1-7, so that's where we are, but we won one. We took a step up this, what appears to be a giant mountain. Sometimes the mountain ain't so giant.''
Everything clicked. Matt Moore completed 17 of 23 passes for 244 yards and three touchdowns. Brandon Marshall caught eight of those balls for 106 yards and a score. Reggie Bush nearly had a 100-yard rushing day for the second straight week, getting 92 with a touchdown.
The Dolphins got five sacks, held the Chiefs to 4.4 yards per play and gave up 13 yards or less on six different Kansas City possessions.
So after Sparano accepted the game ball in a giddy locker room afterward, he told the players he'd see them Wednesday - the sweetest words an NFL team can hear their coach say in a Sunday postgame meeting. Hugs all around, and more than a few exhales as well.
''It was absolutely great to get a little reward for all the work we've put in, just to have that feeling of getting a win under your belt,'' Moore said. ''I think guys now understand that, `Yeah we can do this,' and they're hungry and we're going to enjoy this one and get ready for Washington.''
The Redskins (3-5) visit Miami this coming Sunday.
Sparano said he expects Vontae Davis, who was not with the team in Kansas City, to be back this week. He lauded the work of several players in particular on Monday, a list including the predictable choices - Bush, Moore, Marshall, Anthony Fasano - and maybe the not-so-expected ones such as Charles Clay, Davone Bess and Jeron Mastrud.
''We handled the circumstances the best we can handle circumstances going into that football game yesterday,'' Sparano said.
''And that was that we were a 0-7 team, that we felt like playing a little bit better. And we wanted to play ... one of our best games, put our best effort out there and all week long we talked about starting fast and finishing strong. And I think the guys got the message.''
In short, that mountain wasn't so tall after all.
''If it wasn't,'' Sparano said, ''that guy wouldn't have climbed that Mount Everest.''