MIAMI -- The Washington Redskins couldn't beat Dan Marino with two quarterbacks last night.
Redskins coach Richie Petitbon pulled Cary Conklin after the first drive of the third quarterback for Rich Gannon, but the team still lost, 17-10, at Joe Robbie Stadium.
Conklin left with the Redskins trailing 14-3, and Gannon directed one touchdown drive that cut the deficit to 14-10, but the Redskins did not get any closer.
Marino, who gave the Dolphins a 14-0 lead with touchdowns on their first two possessions, then directed a drive that was completed by a 37-yard Pete Stoyanich field goal with 3:58 left.
The Redskins started their ensuing drive on their 7 after a penalty on Pat Eilers nullified a Brian Mitchell return to midfield. The drive fizzled when Tim McGee's third-down catch was nullified because his foot went out of bounds before he caught it.
The Redskins then punted, and Monte Coleman stopped Terry Kirby on third down to force the Dolphins to punt. The Redskins got the ball back on their 29 with 1:50 left.
But after getting one first down, Gannon threw a pass into the arms of Troy Vincent, who intercepted it with 59 seconds left to wrap it up.
"The bottom line is we didn't play very well tonight," Petitbon said. "Right now, we're just going through some rough times."
The loss dropped the Redskins to 1-3 for the first time since 1985 and continued the pattern of slow starts that was so familiar during the 12 years of the Joe Gibbs regime.
Under Gibbs, the Redskins started 0-5 in 1981, 1-3 in 1985, 0-2 in 1984 and 1989 and 2-3 in 1988 and 2-2 last year.
The Redskins made the playoffs in only two of those six years (1984 and last year), and now they're going to have to try to come back in Petitbon's first year. They're hoping that Mark Rypien, who will try to practice tomorrow, can make it back next Sunday against the New York Giants.
After the first two touchdowns, the Redskins gave up only three points the rest of the way.
"I think we settled down," Petitbon said. "It's really unfortunate that they hit the first one because I think that had a big part to do with the second half. We settled down and start playing better defense."
Conklin, starting only his second game, was no match for Marino, who started his 144th game.
But it didn't help that the defense got off to a slow start as Miami jumped to a 14-0 lead before the Redskins ran their fourth offensive play.
Marino came out throwing against a secondary that included rookie Tom Carter, who made his first start in place of slumping A.J. Johnson.
After Marino misfired on his first two passes, the Dolphins had a 3rd-and-10 play on their 20.
Petitbon gambled with a blitz, which left Carter one on one with Tony Martin.
Martin caught the pass at midfield and broke free as he crossed the field. Darrell Green, coming from the other side, appeared ready to tackle Martin at about the 30, but Carter, trailing Martin, knocked him off stride and to the ground, and Martin went all the way.
The game was 30 seconds old, and the Dolphins were ahead, 7-0.
"We wanted to go after Marino," Petitbon said about the decision to blitz. "We wanted to put pressure on him to get to him early. We took a shot. This is a game of risk and you have to take risks."
Rookie Terry Kirby bolted for 18 yards up on the middle on the first play of the Dolphins next possession.
After Kirby ran for a yard, he caught a pass from Marino for a 34-yard gain to the Washington 20.
A third down, 8-yard pass to Mark Ingram gave the Dolphins a first down at the Washington 8. After Green got a personal foul penalty to advance to the 4, Mark Higgs jumped over the pile for a touchdown on third down from the 1 with 7:21 left in the first quarter.
Carter, burned on the touchdown pass, intercepted a pass intended for Irving Fryar in the end zone to end the next drive.
After the Dolphins were forced to punt in the third period, Gannon came in with 5:55 remaining in the third period.
Explaining the switch to Gannon, Petitbon said, "We figured we needed a little spark. Hopefully, he was going to give it to us. He got one touchdown. I thought he played pretty well. He got us back in the game, but time ran out."
Conklin said he was frustrated and surprised he was pulled. "That's the head coach's decision."
Gannon said: "I always prepare myself to be ready to play. I felt comfortable.
"We didn't have good field position all night, but we got some things going at the end of the third quarter and the fourth."
The Dolphins were then forced to punt, and a penalty for an vTC illegal block on Pat Eilers cost the Redskins 42 yards in field postion. It wiped out a Green return to the Dolphin 33 as the Redskins took over on their 25 on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Gannon then put together the Redskins' only touchdown drive, an eight-play 75-yard march that was completed with a 12-yard pass to Ricky Sanders with 11:08 to cut the deficit to 14-10.
The drive started with a 21-yard pass interference penalty on J.B. Brown.