MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
Brunell, McCardell Too Much for Dolphins
JACKSONVILLE, Fla.--The unbeaten Jacksonville Jaguars started with a big play and finished with another one last night.
Fred Taylor scored on a 77-yard run on the first play, and Mark Brunell hit Keenan McCardell with a 56-yard touch-down pass with 2:36 left for a 28-21 victory over the Miami Dolphins.
Brunell and McCardell also teamed up on a 23-yard scoring pass with 12 minutes remaining to tie the game.
"We made the plays when we had to make them," Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin said. "It's continuation of what's been happening all year long. We find a way to win."
Jacksonville, Denver and Minnesota are the only undefeated teams in the NFL. The Jaguars (5-0), who have won four games by a total of 18 points, took a two-game lead over second-place Pittsburgh in the AFC Central.
Miami (3-2) fell one game behind AFC East leader New England.
The Dolphins squandered the best performance of the season by Dan Marino, who had been handcuffed by conservative play-calling in earlier games. He went 29-for-47 for 320 yards and two scores.
"We thought they would throw the ball, and they certainly did," Coughlin said. "They had one of the greatest passers in history throwing the ball, and he did an outstanding job."
But Marino lost a fumble when sacked by Tony Brackens with two minutes left, ending Miami's final threat at the Jacksonville 38.
Brackens, who both forced and recovered the fumble, was playing for the first time this season after returning from an ankle injury.
With the score tied and less than three minutes to go, Miami coach Jimmy Johnson gambled by letting Olindo Mare try a 54-yard field goal, and the strategy backfired. Mare was wide right, and McCardell beat Terrell Buckley long on the next play to break the tie.
"That's a new play for us this week," Brunell said. "You throw it up there and hope the timing is there. Fortunately the ball came down where it should."
A crowd of 74,051, the largest in the Jaguars' four-year history, watched Jacksonville win shorthanded in the first meeting between Florida's two AFC teams. Rookie sensation Taylor left the game in the third period because of a bruised shoulder, and Pro Bowl receiver Jimmy Smith sat out the second half with a strained hamstring.
A bye week gave the Jaguars two weeks to prepare for the game, and they started quickly. On the first play, Taylor found a big opening off right tackle, veered to the outside and was untouched until he reached the 15, when he shrugged off a defender to score standing up.
Coughlin stood on the sideline waving his arm and shouting "Go, Freddie, go!" as Taylor completed the longest play in the team's history.
"That was huge," Brunell said. "You can't ask for a better start."
Jacksonville's second play of the game was a 41-yard completion from Brunell to Smith, and Tavian Banks broke away on a 51-yard run in the final 30 seconds of the first half for the Jaguars. But neither big gainer led to any points.
Jacksonville took a 14-0 lead with a 53-yard drive capped by Taylor's 2-yard run.
Marino started Miami's comeback, going 5-for-5 in a 69-yard drive and hitting a diving Troy Drayton with a 2-yard touchdown pass on third down. Drayton caught a break from the officials, because a television replay showed he didn't have control of the ball when he landed in the end zone.
Jacksonville penalties early in the second half led to Miami's tying touch-down. Two 15-yard penalties on Jaguars safety Mike Logan helped Miami move into scoring territory, and a pass interference penalty on Travis Davis negated an interception in the end zone by Donovin Darius.
Two plays later, Karim Abdul-Jabbar's 1-yard touchdown run made it 14-14.