CINCINNATI -- This Family Reunion turned ugly.
You know the one: The Shula Bowl. History in the making. The first father-vs.-son coaching duel in any major pro sport. Don against Dave. Teacher vs. student. Miami Dolphins at the Cincinnati Bengals in Riverfront Stadium.
Final score: Miami 23, Cincinnati 7.
Family Feud result: Dad 1, Son 0.
Quarterback Dan Marino threw touchdown passes of 11 and 4 yards for the Dolphins, whose conservative offense failed to capitalize on numerous Cincinnati turnovers.
It was a bittersweet win for the elder Shula.
"I told him how much I thought of him after the game," Don Shula said. "I know how hard he has worked. This is tough when you are on the losing end. I've been there. It's a tough one to handle when you give up the football five times like they did.
"But any time you're involved in something significant like this and you look across the field and it's your son coaching against you in the NFL, you have to be proud."
It was another tough loss for Dave. Miami is 4-1. Cincinnati is 0-5. Dave Shula has an 8-29 record in two-plus years with the Bengals, and there are rumors he could be replaced by offensive coordinator Bruce Coslet if Cincinnati's record continues to go south.
For that reason, Don Shula would have liked to have told his Dolphins to take it easy on the Bengals, and let them win last night. Give the boy some breathing room. But this is business, and the older Shula has his eyes on another Super Bowl.
"My responsibility is this team and Dave's responsibility is his team. He does the best job he can do and I try to do the best job I can do. We were just the better team here tonight," said the elder Shula.
Dave Shula said: "Once the game began, there was no thought that Dad was the opposing coach. There were too many things to think about. You can't spot the Dolphins five turnovers and expect to win the game. That was the difference."
This was far from the Miami team that went unbeaten during its first three games this season. The Dolphins seemed content to try to mount a running attack and a short passing game instead of punishing the Bengals with big plays after turnovers.
But the 11-yard touchdown pass to Keith Byars in the second quarter and another 4-yard touchdown pass to Mark Ingram to open the third was good enough for the win, and to keep old granite jaw, Don Shula, he of the cold stare, happy.
Dave has the jaw, and sounds like his father, but he usually is hunched over on the sideline staring in disbelief at another botched play.
There were at least five last night, including three interceptions. There was also the offsides on third down that allowed Miami to keep a drive going and eventually score its lone touchdown in the third period. And there was running back Steve Broussard losing a fumble to kill a Cincinnati drive in the third period. And an interception by J. B. Brown to kill another Bengals drive.
Besides the 51-yard touchdown pass from David Klingler to Darnay Scott on the Bengals' first possession, Cincinnati had little offense.
"We're never going to get to the point where we're winning by making the mistakes that we do," said Dave Shula.
Don Shula's teams make few mistakes, and that's why he is pro football's winningest coach with 331 victories. He has had only ,, two losing seasons in 31 years, a 17-0 season in 1972, six Super Bowl appearances and 14 AFC East titles.
Those are crater-sized shoes for Dave to fill, especially since the younger Shula has a history of not getting along with players, especially quarterbacks. See Troy Aikman in Dallas and Boomer Esiason in Cincinnati.
The only way Dave Shula will get to the Super Bowl this season is if his father buys him a ticket.
"He has never tried to offer me any advice, except that my main responsibility is leadership, especially in troubling times," said Dave. "He really didn't have to tell me that. I picked that up from being around him all of those years."
First as the Dolphins' water boy, then as a Miami assistant for seven years in the 1980s. Dave can remember when he was 5, seeing his first professional football game -- Cleveland's 27-0 victory over his father's Baltimore Colts in the 1964 championship game.
"I didn't see a single play because I stood the entire time with my feet near the heater by the bench," Dave said. "It was freezing. But it was after the game that I first realized how important my Dad's job was.
"In the locker room was the first time I had seen grown men cry. It made quite an impression. I now appreciate what my father has had to deal with all these years."
And Don understood when he remarried last Oct. 16 during a Miami bye week, and Dave couldn't make the wedding because the Bengals had a game.
It's a family thing.
Brother Mike, 29, is a Chicago Bears assistant. Nearly 45 friends and family members visited Dave's house in Cincinnati Saturday for dinner, including his three sisters.
Don Shula did not attend. Game preparation, of course. "Dave would have done the same thing if the game was in Miami," he said.
The game and hype didn't affect their relationship. They had their usual Tuesday phone call, but this time it was more about family matters than football.
Both coaches appeared on the field two hours before the game, Dave first, flocked by a horde of photographers. Don came out minutes later, and hugged his son at the 40-yard line. They posed for pictures, chatted a few minutes and then the father hugged the son one more time before departing.
Don Shula has coached against Dave before, when Dave was an offensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys in 1989, and in 1991 when Dave was Bengals receivers coach.
The younger Shula is 0-3 against his father, 0-1 as a head coach, but last night's loss was the most costly.
"I have always tried to be my own man and not ride on my father's coattails," said Dave. "I've heard that over the years, and some people say that's why I got this job.
"I'm proud of my name, and my father's accomplishments. Hey, I could have been born in the Charles Manson family or something. One thing I guarantee, though, is that the Bengals won't keep me around just because my father keeps winning in Miami."