The Miami Dolphins snapped a 6-game losing streak against the Raiders Sunday and beat them for the first time ever in California. They did it with a fine defensive performance and some help from the opposition.
Liffort Hobley returned a Vance Mueller fumble 19 yards for a touchdown for Miami’s second touchdown in an 11-second span of the second quarter and the Dolphins went on to beat the error-prone Raiders, 24-14, before a crowd of 50,751 at the Coliseum.
Raider quarterback Jay Schroeder threw 4 interceptions for the second straight game. The Raiders (2-4) had 5 turnovers, leading directly to 17 Miami points.
“I was just coming up to finish him (Mueller),” said Hobley, a third-year safety. “Hugh (Green) hit him and the ball bounced right in front of me. I just carried it in. I knew after I got started that nobody would catch me.”
Green refused comment on the play, saying he doesn’t talk to the press.
“Anytime things like that happen, it’s tough on your offense,” Schroeder said of Mueller’s fumble and the resulting touchdown for Miami.
Mueller was a replacement at running back for Marcus Allen, who sat out the game because of a broken bone in his left wrist.
The victory raised the Dolphins’ record to 3-3 and was their first over the Raiders since 1978, when they won a 23-6 decision at the Orange Bowl.
The Dolphins were 0-9 against the Raiders in California before Sunday. Overall, the Raiders hold a 15-4-1 edge in their series with Miami.
“It’s been a long, dry spell against the Raiders,” Dolphin Coach Don Shula said. “We’ve really had some struggles against them. Today we caught them when they had a lot of people hurt and were just getting it together.”
The Dolphins broke a scoreless tie when Lorenzo Hampton scored on a 1-yard plunge with 8:55 left in the second quarter to cap an 84-yard, 11-play drive.
Hobley scored his touchdown on the first play after the Miami kickoff.
The Dolphins made it 17-0 less than 3 minutes later on a 45-yard field goal by Fuad Reveiz shortly after Jarvis Williams intercepted a pass by Schroeder and returned it 23 yards to the Raider 45.
Don McNeal’s interception and 24-yard return to the Raider 42 set up a 17-yard touchdown pass from Dan Marino to Jim Jensen with 8 seconds left before halftime, making it 24-0.
“In the first half, we stopped our drives,” Raider Coach Mike Shanahan said. “I thought I saw some good things in the second half. We haven’t been able to put a total football game together.
“Give the Miami defense credit. Anytime you go against a fine football team, you have to make plays. We weren’t able to do that. We’re not looking to make any changes. Changes are not the key to any football team. What we’re looking to do is execute.”
The Raiders got on the scoreboard early in the third quarter on a 7-yard touchdown pass from Schroeder to Mervyn Fernandez. It came shortly after a 57-yard kickoff return by Tim Brown and was the first touchdown pass scored against the Dolphins this season.
A 13-yard touchdown pass from Schroeder to Steve Strachan with 9:49 remaining in the game capped a 66-yard, 12-play Raider drive and completed the scoring.
“When we made the plays, everybody was on the same page,” Schroeder said. “Defensively, they didn’t throw anything different at us. We just didn’t make the big plays.
“I feel real comfortable with the offense. We’re just not making the plays. You get into the pride factor now. Nobody here likes to lose. I think we showed some things. I know we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, but good things are going to happen.”
Schroeder finished 21 of 37 for 293 yards and was sacked twice. Marino was 14 of 36 for 175 yards with 1 interception and wasn’t sacked, making it 2 games in a row the Raiders failed to record a sack.
“The offensive line did a very good job,” Marino said. “Our receivers had some problems getting open at times, but our defense is playing very tough football.
“We’re not getting touchdown passes like we used to, but if we win and don’t throw for any touchdowns, it’s all right with me. If we just keep playing like we’ve been playing, we’ll be all right.”
About Schroeder and the Raiders, Marino said: “The fact that Jay’s learning a system is causing problems for them. He’s in a very tough position.”
Allen, who leads the Raiders in rushing and receiving, suffered the broken bone in his wrist during the Raiders’ 45-21 loss to Cincinnati last weekend. Schroeder was intercepted 4 times in that game.
The win was the first in 3 road games for the Dolphins, while the Raiders dropped to 1-3 at home.
The Raider touchdown in the third quarter was the first allowed by the Miami defense since the second quarter of the Dolphins’ game against Green Bay on Sept. 18.
The Raiders entered the game having scored 127 points, the second-most in the AFC. They have now allowed an NFL-high 169 points.
Defenses dominated in the first quarter. Neither team crossed midfield and there were a total of five punts as well as another on the first play of the second period. Marino completed only one of eight passes for 12 yards in the opening 15 minutes.
The Dolphins became the first team to cross the 50, doing so on a 23-yard pass from Marino to Mark Clayton on the second play of the second quarter, putting Miami at the Raider 49-yard line.
The Dolphins went on to score the game’s first touchdown. Marino was four of five for 61 yards on the 84-yard drive with all four completions going to Clayton, who finished with six receptions for 86 yards.
The Raiders didn’t cross midfield for the first time until some four minutes remained in the second quarter with Miami leading 17-0. The Raiders wound up punting on that possession.
The Raiders lost defensive end Howie Long for the day early in the second quarter when he suffered a strained right calf muscle. Later in the second quarter, the Raiders lost linebacker Jerry Robinson, who suffered a pulled muscle in his back.
The touchdown by Strachan, a running back in his fourth professional season, was his first in the NFL.
Schroeder’s fourth interception came midway through the fourth quarter. The Raiders were at the Miami 46-yard line when Schroeder’s long pass was picked off by Rodney Thomas, who returned it 48 yards to the Raider 29.
The Raiders held, and a delay of game penalty pushed the Dolphins back to the Raider 34, from where they punted. The Raiders then went from their own 20-yard line to the Miami 24 before a holding penalty and a sack of Schroeder set them back.
A 55-yard field-goal attempt by Chris Bahr with 2:23 remaining was blocked by Jeff Cross. The Dolphins then ran out all but the final five seconds of the clock.
Bahr had successfully kicked a 50-yarder, but the Raiders were penalized for being in an illegal formation.