Vikings continue to fall, 24-20

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 20, 2006

MIAMI (AP) &8212; By the Miami Dolphins&8217; standards, a run for no gain was better than average.

Their average running play lost nearly 8 inches. Their leading ball carrier totaled 2 yards. Their team total was minus-3 yards.

&8220;It was difficult for us to run the ball, especially, well, all game,&8221; quarterback Joey Harrington said.

Email newsletter signup

Yet Miami won.

Stymied on the ground, the Dolphins needed two touchdowns by their defense Sunday to beat the slumping Minnesota Vikings 24-20.

The Vikings, ranked first in the NFL in run defense, lost despite setting a team record by limiting the Dolphins to minus net yardage in 14 carries.

Miami became the first team to win with such a poor rushing total since Oct. 29, 1961, when Philadelphia rushed for minus-12 yards and still beat Washington, 27-24.

Minnesota took a 13-10 lead early in the fourth quarter, then turned the ball over three times.

Renaldo Hill returned a fumble 48 yards for Miami&8217;s go-ahead score, and Jason Taylor scored on a game-clinching, 51-yard interception return with 3:25 left to tie George Martin&8217;s NFL record for linemen with his seventh career touchdown.

The Dolphins (4-6), who had the league&8217;s worst record less than a month ago, won their third consecutive game. The Vikings (4-6) lost their fourth in a row.

&8220;We had the game in hand until we self-destructed in the fourth quarter,&8221; quarterback Brad Johnson said.

Trailing 17-13, the Vikings were at midfield and driving when Taylor sealed the victory, peeling off a blocker to step in front of a screen pass by Johnson and sprinting untouched for the score.

&8220;He&8217;s unbelievable,&8221; Johnson said. &8220;I asked him, and he said he read the scheme. I felt we had him blocked. I never saw him until after he made the play.&8221;

Taylor said he sensed a big play coming.

&8220;I hadn&8217;t been feeling good all game,&8221; he said. &8220;I didn&8217;t feel like I was in a groove. Before that play I told the official, &8216;I&8217;m about to do something outrageous.&8221;&8217;

Minnesota&8217;s Chester Taylor scored on a 1-yard run as time expired.

The Dolphins won even though they lost a fumble after reaching the 1, had a 58-yard touchdown

pass negated by a penalty and trailed in time of possession by 12 minutes. Their rushing yardage was a franchise low. Running back Ronnie Brown netted 2 yards in 12 attempts.

&8220;I don&8217;t think you can put it on Ronnie,&8221; coach Nick Saban said. &8220;He didn&8217;t have anywhere to run.&8221;

Saban said he couldn&8217;t recall winning with negative yards rushing.

&8220;But I haven&8217;t been in too many where the defense scored 14 points, either,&8221; he said.

Harrington went 26-for-42 for 254 yards with one score. He improved to 1-6 starting against the Vikings, with the losses coming when he played for Detroit.

&8220;There has been a bit of a something against those guys,&8221; Harrington said. &8220;It&8217;s nice to beat them.&8221;

The Vikings scored a touchdown on their opening possession with their longest scoring drive of the season &8212; 96 yards in 12 plays. But they struggled to move the ball the rest of the day, and cornerback Antoine Winfield acknowledged frustration with his offense.

&8220;The guys need to be more accountable and go out there to do what we need to do,&8221; he said.