Dolphins 31, Rams 14
MIAMI - Jay Fiedler threw a game-clinching touchdown pass, then sprinted the length of the field to join his teammates in an end zone celebration, waving his index finger as he ran.
No, the Miami Dolphins aren't No. 1. But they do have victory No. 1.
Winless no more, Miami jump-started its sputtering offense with a succession of big plays and occasional trickery to beat the explosive St. Louis Rams at their own game Sunday, 31-14.
"You almost forgot what it felt like," Fiedler said. "We were down in the dungeon of the NFL, and we were able to play a full game. This is a big victory for us."
After enduring the worst start in their 39-year history, the Dolphins (1-6) took out their frustration on the Rams (4-3), who had at least five players hurt. The much-maligned Fiedler threw for two touchdowns, embattled coach Dave Wannstedt made some risky calls that paid off, and Miami held the Rams' high-powered offense in check.
"Enough is enough," said defensive end David Bowens, who said last week he expected Miami to win its final 10 games. "At some point you've got to draw a line in the sand and be a man about it."
The Dolphins are the last NFL team to win this season.
"Every dog has its day, and today was their day," Rams defensive tackle Damione Lewis said. "You never know. They could run off six straight wins now. That's the NFL."
Fiedler was booed during the pregame introductions, then went 13-for-17 for 203 yards. He shrugged off five sacks and threw touchdown passes of 42 yards to Randy McMichael and 71 yards to Chris Chambers, with the latter clinching the win.
The conservative Wannstedt, his job in jeopardy, took some uncharacteristic gambles to keep St. Louis guessing. A 48-yard pass by receiver Marty Booker set up the game's first score, and Miami also pulled off a fake punt and tried a halfback pass.
"We opened up the playbook today," McMichael said. "Coach Wannstedt said he was going to run them all, and they all came out positive."
Miami, which entered with a league-high 17 turnovers, committed none. A replay review overturned a fumble lost by Chambers in the fourth quarter, and instead the drive produced a field goal for a 24-7 lead.
"The guys play hard every week," Wannstedt said. "We just didn't make as many mistakes today."
The Rams' lone turnover was costly, with Marc Bulger intercepted in the end zone when they were threatening to tie the game in the third quarter. St. Louis totaled 372 yards but converted only two of 13 third-down situations.
The Dolphins dominated on special teams with ferocious hitting, including a block by rookie Tony Bua that took out two Rams on a 20-yard punt return.
"A lot of guys were playing with their hair on fire," Bua said. "When you're 0-6, you're willing to do anything to get a win."
Although the crowd was announced as a sellout, the stands were half empty. But fans did plenty of cheering for a change, including when a trick play helped Miami score first.
Booker took a handoff on a reverse, then threw deep to Chambers. On the next play, Sammy Morris scored Miami's first rushing touchdown of the season on an 8-yard run.
With the score 7-all, Fiedler foiled a blitz on third and 27 and found McMichael streaking down the middle for a touchdown with 22 seconds left in the half.
"That's the only time I've ever called a play on defense, and it goes for a touchdown," Rams coach Mike Martz said. "I guess that's why I don't coach defense."
The Rams, who staged come-from-behind victories in their past two games, tried to rally again and made the score 24-14 on Bulger's 15-yard touchdown pass to Shaun McDonald with 4:51 left.
Miami answered with the clincher 27 seconds later. Fiedler threw a short third-down pass to Chambers, who found a seam and sprinted to the end zone.
"Sometimes you can overcome mistakes early," Bulger said. "But sometimes you wait too late to get anything going, and that's what happened to us."
Notes:@ Five Rams left the game with injuries: CB Dwight Anderson (right shoulder), LB Brandon Chillar (hamstring), DE Bryce Fisher (chest), WR Dane Looker (leg bruise) and T Grant Willliams (neck burner). ... Dolphins LB Junior Seau sat out the second half with a groin injury. ... Dolphins T Wade Smith, who started the first two games this season, was inactive for the first time. ... The Rams are 0-4 in Miami since their last win there in 1976.