Miami's Playoff Hopes Get Dimmer, 17-7

From Associated Press

Playing only for pride, the New York Giants embarrassed the Miami Dolphins and made their coach Jimmy Johnson eat his words.

Rodney Hampton and Howard Cross scored their first touchdowns of the season to help New York reduce Miami's already slim playoff chances with a 17-7 victory Sunday.

It was doubly pleasing for the Giants to beat Johnson, who at midweek had pledged his team would win, saying, "Everybody is going to have smiles on their faces after Sunday. You can count on it."

Well, the Dolphins aren't smiling.

"It's nice to know that he'll have to eat his words," Giant cornerback Jason Sehorn said.

"It definitely motivated us," Giant quarterback Dave Brown added. "I didn't want to walk back into the locker room and hear him say, 'How 'bout them Dolphins?' "

The Giants (6-8) were eliminated from playoff contention a week ago. The Dolphins (6-8), who have lost three in a row, could be eliminated before they play again next Monday against Buffalo.

"We showed today that we're not a very good team," Johnson said. "I was hoping we'd be better than this at this stage, but we're not."

Brown, heavily criticized last week after a poor game in a loss to Philadelphia, completed 21 of 28 passes for 169 yards, including a one-yard touchdown pass to Cross.

He smoothly directed an offense ranked last in the NFL. The Giants rushed for 131 yards, including 60 by Hampton and 59 by Tyrone Wheatley.

The Giants controlled the ball for 20 1/2 minutes in the first half to take a 14-7 lead, then stymied Dan Marino in the second half with interceptions by Conrad Hamilton and Corey Widmer.

Marino, who threw three interceptions last week, completed 16 of 30 passes for 209 yards and was sacked three times. The sellout crowd of 63,889 booed the Dolphins' offense, which has scored only one touchdown in each of the past four games.

"It's tough to take because the whole damn year of work is down the drain," the 35-year-old Marino said.

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