Dolphins end home skid by beating Redskins 20-9
MIAMI (AP) — The Miami Dolphins began a possession at their 19-yard line early in the fourth quarter, clinging to a four-point edge and mindful that they had blown late leads in three defeats this year.
The huddle quickly reached a consensus.
"We said to ourselves, 'Let's finish this game how we want to,'" running back Reggie Bush said.
An 81-yard touchdown drive sealed the victory Sunday, and the Dolphins earned their first home victory in 364 days by beating the Washington Redskins 20-9.
The Dolphins (2-7) ended a franchise-record streak of seven consecutive losses in Miami since last Nov. 14, and they won for the second week in a row.
"The first seven games we were kind of in disarray," Bush said. "We were trying to find our identity. The difference now is we're playing 60 minutes and finishing at the end of games."
Bush doubled his touchdown total this season with scoring runs of 1 and 18 yards, and the Dolphins doubled their interception total this year by twice picking off Rex Grossman.
Redskins kept out of the end zone
Miami kept the opposition out of the end zone for the second successive week. Possessions by Washington reached the Miami 20, 26, 5 and 10-yard lines, but those threats produced only three field goals.
The Redskins (3-6) dropped their fifth consecutive game, the longest losing streak of Mike Shanahan's career. They haven't held a lead since Oct. 2, and Shanahan said he's never been so frustrated as a coach.
"We're just going to keep on fighting," he said. Shanahan declined to say which quarterback will start the next game against Dallas.
Grossman threw for 215 yards but was sacked three times and had a passer rating of 58.7, lower than his NFC-worst season figure. He was a surprise starter, replacing John Beck four weeks after being benched.
Beck benched after three weeks
Shanahan said he decided to go with the more experienced quarterback because of a wave of injuries to the Redskins' offense.
"I thought Rex gave us a chance to win," Shanahan said. "If you have this many guys go down, I didn't want to go with the inexperienced guy and throw him to the wolves."
Miami was clinging to a 13-9 lead when Grossman drove his team 49 yards to a first down at the 10 early in the fourth quarter. He then threw a pass directly to linebacker Karlos Dansby, whose interception ended the threat.
"I have to be more careful in a crucial point in the game," Grossman said.
After Dansby's takeaway, Miami scored the clinching TD on Bush's 18-yard run. He crossed the goal line standing up and heaved the ball into the stands in jubilation.
Happy fans scrambled for the victory souvenir, a rarity lately in Miami.
"It's nice to see them still support us," tight end Anthony Fasano said. "We haven't had good showings at home. I couldn't imagine being in their seats."
Burned on 3rd down
Matt Moore, the AFC offensive player of the week last week, threw an ugly interception and lost a fumble but completed 20 of 29 passes for 209 yards. The Dolphins, who came into the game last in the NFL in third-down conversions, went 8 for 14 in those situations against Washington.
"If you don't win on third down, it's going to be tough to win," Redskins linebacker London Fletcher said.
Miami started the game in the wildcat — the first time they've used the package this season — but a pass fell incomplete. After the Dolphins took the lead, coach Tony Sparano went conservative, and the Dolphins drew boos when they ran out the clock at the end of the first half rather than trying to score.
But nursing the early lead paid off because the Redskins couldn't cash in on their chances.
"We haven't had a big play, a breakout play that gets you 60 to 70 yards," Grossman said. "We need more explosive plays."
NOTES: Washington WR Leonard Hankerson left the game with a strained right hip with 4 minutes left. He said the injury wasn't serious, but he wasn't sure whether he would be able to play in the next game. ... Redskins defensive lineman Kedric Golston left the game in the third quarter with a knee injury. ... Hankerson had eight catches for 106 yards and became the first Washington rookie since 2001 with 100 yards receiving. ... Dansby had 11 tackles, two tackles for a loss and two passes defended.