The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on September 14, 1999 · Page 63
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 63

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Tuesday, September 14, 1999
Page 63
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4C THE PALM BEACH POST TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 1999 Football ABC hopes booth changes pay off Charles Elmore TVradio coach Jimmy Johnson and Jets coach Bill Parcells have been mentioned, if either decides to retire, but Michaels sounded enthusiastic after sideline interviews with Bob Griese and Tom Jackson, who already work for the ABCESPN family. "Good analysis," Michaels remarked after Griese's interview. "Bob did everything but send it back to Keith Jackson." Griese, the former Dolphins great and proud father of first-time Broncos starter Brian, said his son seemed calm but "I think he would tell you he's a little behind on some of his crossing routes." Jackson drew a "great analysis" from Michaels after saying the Broncos' defense can no longer expect their offense to score 34 points a game with a new quarterback. Though there were fewer two-sided debates about coaching decisions or blown calls, Esiason did not have a bad night. Even in jest, ratings were not far from the minds of ABC's downsized Monday Night Football crew in 1999's regular-season opener. Sideline reporter Lesley Viss-er remarked that 20 million viewers watched a ceremony for retired Broncos quarterback John Elway. "Lesley will be lamenting if only 20 million people are watching," play-by-play man Al Michaels said. "That's about half the rating we expect." Stations in South Florida cut away for much of halftime for hurricane updates, but certainly ABC hopes more people are watching this season. One of sports broadcasting's great success stories, Monday Night Football is coming off its lowest ratings. Even though broadcast networks' share of viewers is shrinking because of competition from cable, and though Monday Night Football remains one of TVs top draws, it is On one occasion Michabjs was fooled by a Broncos play ion his call. "Good thing you weren't playing safety," Esiason said.: ;" Dolphins fans were treated to the promise of a revived running game, though Esiason may have jumped ahead of the count wheil he said Johnson may have found his Emmitt Smith in J J. Johnson or Cecil Collins. ' X. ABC was well prepared with several vignettes. One wasa close-up of the Dolphins' security man who married Johnson and his wife, Rhonda, as a notary public. Also strong: Replays including Al Wilson's flying niton J.J. Johnson at the goal line and the reason why Ray Crockett swung an elbow at Tony Martin (a stiff-arm that caught the fade mask). 7; For Dolphins fans watching their team build a lead in the fourth quarter, it hardly mattered how many voices were in the booth. ABC will find out if it matters as the season progresses, v clear ABC wants to shake things up. After the 1998 season, the network dumped Dan Dierdorf and his $1.7 million salary in favor of a two-man booth with Michaels and Boomer Esiason. Visser called Dierdorf "one of the best two or three former athletes ever to grace a broadcast booth." Speaking from her Boca Raton home before leaving for Denver, Visser said the change allows "more breathing room." On the field Monday, it seemed at times if Visser were interviewing candidates for the third spot in the booth if ABC decides to fill it again. Dolphins m 7 mm Mitf mm I 1 . eg -- -.. - , , 1L " ( ('! h"" I I ! 1 ' . .. 1 t i E t J . - . . i-.f 1 Ks; ROLL-TOP DESK oakw swivel chair. Very good condition 555-4570 7 ; 1 A 03.' ALLEN EYESTONEStatf Photographer. n Denver running back Terrell Davis is stacked up by the Dolphins' Calvin Jackson (left), Robert Jones and Kenny Mixon. Dolphins avenge playoff loss! and Terrell Buckley the Denver 36-yard line. urnedit to l That set 1 II :oreofJhe 11 by Karim H returned j score by up the Dolphins' first season, a 1-yard run Abdul-Jabbar. So what happens? Broncos coach Mike Shanah-an decided to come out throwing. On the opening possession, Griese led an 80-play touchdown drive by throwing for 84 yards a penalty accounting for the odd math. With his father, former Dolphins quarterback Bob Griese, watching from a skybox, Griese heaved a throw over safety Brock Marion and into the hands of tight end Ed McCaffrey for a 61-yard touchdown. If that wasn't a foreboding enough beginning for the Dolphins, the drive included a instant replay challenge that was shot down and ended with a penalty for having 12 men on the field for the extra point. But the Dolphins' special teams more than made up for that mistake. Not only did Jeffries block a punt, but Lorenzo Bro-mell blocked a field-goal attempt High Stadium the place where the Broncos had won 24 consecutive regular-season games turn eerily quiet. Konrad ran for a first down. Johnson scored the touchdown. The Dolphins seemed to instantly become the favorites to win the AFC East. The night had begun ominously. First play of the game. Brian Griese drops back. The stands fill with camera flashes. The second-year player who is trying to replace Elway calmly completes a 5-yard pass to Shannon Sharpe. And so began a surprise attack. All week long the Dolphins had insisted that the changing of the quarterbacks from Elway to Griese made little difference, that the key to beating the Broncos started with stopping running back Terrell Davis. DOLPHINS From 1C like that means what he says." H Greg Jeffries, a former Detroit cornerback signed as a free agent, blocked a punt to set up a 37-yard field goal Olindo Mare with one second left in the first half. That field goal finished a 17-0 second quarter for the Dolphins and gave them a 17-7 lead. At halftime, when the Broncos retired the number of John Elway, the former quarterback said to the 75,623 fans: "I'm going to clue the world in about this Mile High magic. They can talk about the altitude. They can talk about the field. They can talk about everything. But the key thing to Mile High magic is you." Maybe so. But when the teams returned to the field, the Dolphins quickly made Mile Put your ad in The Post Classifieds and watch it become a best seller. Call (561) 8204343 today. Meanwhile, the Dolphins managed to contain Davis. In the first three quarters, he had carried 17 times for 45 yards a 2.6-yard average. 1 , In the playoffs last year, the Dolphins playing without defensive linemen Tim Bowens arid Jason Taylor allowed Davis to rush for 199 yards in a 38-3 victory. Monday's was a victory for the defense. And for Dan Marino. ' Monday night, Marino did the kinds of things Elway did the past two years en route to a title. He didn't dominate the game. But he orchestrated it. He made the big plays when he needed to . . . with the help of some off-season additions. With new tools, Marino makes offense work The Palm Beach Post Always A Best Seller the defeat of Denver. ri But the Dolphins' offense was capable and efficient. If those are modest descriptions, a capable and efficient offense is all Miami'will need on most NFL weekends if Miami is able to dictate other aspects of the game. : ,; This has been Johnson's hope "and heretofore empty promise since his arrival as boss. Now in his fourth season, though, Johnson insists new tools allow him to better fulfill his offensive desires. ;-; Rob Konrad is a new fullback tool. J.J. Johnson is a new running back tool. Tony Martin is an old wide receiver tool new to Johnson's shed. , And a very, very familiar Miami craftsman made it all work. ! Marino, who came into the league with Elway in 1983 and hopes to win once the Super Bowl title his buddy won twice in his last two seasons, is trying to shape a championship season. Don't make too much of the start, because this is not the Denver team it was. But don't ignore the Dolphins' method, because per-' haps it's a signal that jjieither is Miami the team it has been the past few years. hind the defense of Shawn Wooden and Brock Marion. Instead, a 61-yard touchdown play forced the Dolphins to breathe deeply in disappointment while not allowing themselves to wallow in exasperation or, worse, fear. Not that a Dolphins' loss to a two-time defending Super Bowl champion on the two-time defending Super Bowl champion's turf in Celebration City would have demolished a season. Hardly. Miami drew the league's most difficult opening-week assignment and a defeat in such circumstance would not have been ruinous. (And this is as good a juncture as any to point out that neither does the Dolphins' victory stamp the season as destined to be wonderful.) But the Miami performance might might be a signal that these Dolphins have perhaps a greater margin of error than did recent teams in franchise history. Miami's potential for excellence remains rooted in its defense. And, to be sure, a couple of special teams plays on a blocked field goal and blocked punt were important ingredients in ! STODA From 1C They could have gone all soft and delicate as quickly as the second play of the season. It could have happened as soon as coach Jimmy Johnson's challenge of a call that didn't go Miami's way didn't go Miami's way upon review, either. That sequence, almost at the outset of the season, could have set off a Denver torch that consumed the Dolphins at least for a night. But it didn't. Officials ruled a Brian Griese-to-Rod Smith pass incomplete when the Dolphins thought it a catch and fumble . . . when the Dolphins thought Sam Madison had covered the football for Miami and set it up at Denver's 28-yard line . . . when the Broncos, banking on a kid (Griese) to debut as the replacement to a legend (Elway) at quarterback, could have faced early trouble themselves. Instead, the call was upheld. Instead, Denver maintained possession and ended it with a Griese heave that was positively Elwayesque as it arched and drifted perfectly into the hands of Ed McCaffrey be

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