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Dolphins Run Into Contention : Interconference: Higgs gains 131 yards as Miami beats Tampa Bay, 33-14, and improves its wild-card chances.

From Associated Press

The Miami Dolphins handed running back Mark Higgs a starting job Sunday, and he showed every intention of holding onto it.

Higgs replaced fumble-plagued Sammie Smith and rushed for 131 yards in 25 carries to lead the Dolphins past the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 33-14.

“Hopefully now I can get off the kickoff return team,” Higgs said.

The Dolphins (7-6) improved their chances at an AFC wild-card berth and got over the .500 mark for the first time this season.

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“The reality is that we can’t afford to lose another game,” said quarterback Dan Marino, who completed 20 of 32 passes for 307 yards and two touchdowns.

Tampa Bay fell to 2-11.

Higgs, who started Miami’s first six games when Smith was hurt, regained the job after Smith lost three fumbles near the opposing goal line in the past five games.

Higgs, a fourth-year pro, lost a fumble on his third carry Sunday, but he bounced back to gain 103 yards in the first half. The Dolphins scored 24 points in the second-quarter to take a 24-7 halftime lead.

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Higgs’ 100-yard effort was the first for Miami since he reached that milestone in each of the season’s first two games. The Dolphins scored on six consecutive possessions and had a season-high 468 yards.

Pete Stoyanovich kicked a career-high four field goals, from 41, 24, 19 and 30 yards.


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