Rushing defense shaky vs. Dolphins


MIAMI - The best run defense in the league played back on its heels in the first half.

The Miami Dolphins ran the ball eight times for 35 of 47 yards on their opening drive against the Ravens. The Dolphins finished with 106 yards on the ground, with Lamar Smith gaining 63 yards on 22 carries.

It's only the sixth time in 19 games that a team had more than 100 yards rushing against the Ravens, who allowed a total of 76 yards in the first two games.

"Anytime anybody runs the ball on us, it surprises me," Ravens coach Brian Billick said.

"That's as probably as good as physical an offense that came after us on a consistent basis as we've played. And stuck with it."

The Ravens, however, weren't surprised that Miami attacked them on the ground.

"Just watching film of them, their offensive line really does combination blocks well, gets to the next level," defensive tackle Tony Siragusa said. "There's a lot of good chopping. We knew it was going to be a war up front. It was a war."

Surgery for Dilfer

Backup quarterback Trent Dilfer will undergo knee surgery today and will be transported directly from the team's chartered flight to the hospital.

He was suited up last night and listed as the backup despite tearing ligaments in his knee at the end of Friday's practice. The seventh-year veteran practiced Saturday and threw before the game, but did not do much movement.

He is expected to miss at least two weeks, and rookie Chris Redman will be the backup next week.

Sack attack

The Ravens gave up six sacks, more than doubling the total from the first two games combined. But the offensive line seemed shocked when told the number of sacks allowed.

"They showed us a few different looks that we hadn't seen from them," center Jeff Mitchell said. "Whenever it's loud, it's hard to adjust to those kind of looks."

Unpleasant reminder

Joseph Sweeting, a co-defendant in Ray Lewis' murder trial, was expected to be at Pro Player Stadium last night promoting his rap CD, the Miami Herald reported.

On the CD, Sweeting criticizes Ravens linebacker Lewis for striking a plea bargain with Atlanta prosecutors in which the murder charges were dropped in exchange for pleading guilty to obstruction of justice.

Dolphins honor Marino

Under a barrage of fireworks, former Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino was inducted into the team's honor roll and had his uniform No. 13 retired at halftime.

More than 90 Dolphins alumni attended the 25-minute festivities, which included dedicating a life-size bronze statue that will be placed in front of Pro Player Stadium.

Marino will become only the second Dolphin to have his number retired, joining former quarterback Bob Griese, who wore No. 12.

Marino fought back the emotion of the moment to deliver an impassioned speech.

"I spent 17 years fulfilling a dream playing in front of these fans in Miami, and it was very special to me," Marino said.

Sharpe not popular in Miami

The Miami fans let tight end Shannon Sharpe know they remembered him.

In 1998, Sharpe made some unflattering remarks about Marino, telling a magazine that Marino wasn't the quarterback he used to be. They booed Sharpe louder than any other Raven when the team's offense was announced, and booed him again after his first catch of the game.

"I get booed in every stadium," Sharpe said. "No more here than any place else. I said what I said and Dan let that be bygones. I didn't say that in a mean way, I was just being honest and truthful."

Messy conditions

Rain hit Pro Player Stadium about an hour and a half before kickoff and continued through most of the first half as the remnants of Hurricane Gordon lingered in the Miami area.

"It's going to affect the game," Billick said before the game. "The team that makes the fewest mistakes is going to win, simple."

In the first half, the Ravens had two fumbles, neither of which was lost, and an interception.

Dolphins' corners tough

The Miami cornerbacks, Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain, tried to make their presence known as they were flagged for penalties on the first drive of the game. However, they combined for a shutout in the first half, not allowing a Ravens receiver to make a catch.

"These two corners are as physical, jam-off-the-line guys as you'll see," Billick said.

Avoiding a letdown

After last week's emotional win over Jacksonville, now the test is for the Ravens to reach that high level every week.

"It's difficult," Ravens fullback Obafemi Ayanbadejo said. "That's why they don't have teams going 16-0 anymore. But it's early in the season. I don't think we're totally tapped out emotionally yet. Sometimes even when you're tapped out, you have to dig and find more. It's part of the game. Teams that do dig and find more are teams that end up 11-5, 10-6, 12-4."

End zone

Safety Kim Herring suffered a back contusion but returned to the game. Defensive end Rob Burnett suffered a burner in his shoulder and neck area. ... Kicker Matt Stover's streak of 22 straight field goals ended when his attempt at the end of the first half was blocked. It was the longest active streak in the NFL and fell one short of his career-best streak. ... Defensive end Michael McCrary, who led the Ravens with 11 1/2 sacks last season, recorded his first of the season with five minutes left in the second quarter. ... Ravens president David Modell had T-shirts printed for the team that read "Road Warriors" along with its logo. ... NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue had to cancel his flight to attend last night's Marino festivities because of the weather. ... The Dolphins have won 12 straight at home in September, dating to 1993. ... The Ravens' eight inactive players were receiver Qadry Ismail, tackle Sammy Williams, tight end John Jones, defensive end Adalius Thomas, cornerback Clarence Love, defensive end Carl Powell, guard Kipp Vickers and Redman.

Sun staff writer Ken Murray contributed to this article.

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