September 20, 1998
MIAMI (AP) -- The Miami Dolphins
harried Kordell Stewart, smothered his receivers and stymied Jerome
Bettis. It all added up to a zero for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Stewart passed for just 82 yards with three interceptions, including
Zach Thomas' 17-yard touchdown return, and the Dolphins' defense
outscored Pittsburgh in a 21-0 victory Sunday. It was Miami's first
shutout in six seasons.
The Dolphins managed only 219 yards, including 113 by Dan Marino, but
a group of young, swarming defenders carried them to victory for the
second week in a row. Stewart completed just 11 of 35 passes and was
intercepted twice by Sam Madison.
"It's frustrating for the quarterback and the receivers to have guys
in their face the whole game," Madison said. "Kordell was trying to
get his timing down, but we were knocking the receivers off their
routes, and he couldn't get his arm going. Then there were guys coming
at him at 100 mph. It's frustrating for him."
Heavy rain beginning in the third period turned the baseball infield
into a muddy quagmire, which compounded the Steelers' offensive woes.
"There are a lot of things we can say, but the best thing is that
life goes on," Stewrt said. "There are 13 games left in this season,
and this game doesn't make any difference if we go to the Super Bowl."
AFC East leader Miami improved to 3-0, and Pittsburgh fell to 2-1.
In a matchup of stout defenses and struggling offenses, the game
figured to be low-scoring -- and for the Steelers it was. Pittsburgh,
which came into the game ranked next-to-last in the AFC in yardage,
was shut out for the first time since a 27-0 loss at Los Angeles on
Sept. 12, 1993.
"We're all accountable, and it starts with the guy you're talking
to," coach Bill Cowher said. "I'm not going to wallow in self-pity.
Whatever it takes to get this thing turned around, we're going to get
The Dolphins' shutout was their first since a 31-0 playoff victory
over San Diego on Jan. 10, 1993, and their first in the regular season
since a 28-0 win at Indianapolis on Nov. 8, 1992.
"Shutouts are hard to get, especially in this league," defensive end
Jason Taylor said. "The Steelers were a couple of plays from the Super
Bowl last season, so to shut them out is special."
"The way we're winning, it's very simple: one-on-one battles,"
cornerback Terrell Buckley said. "That makes it fun."
Bettis, coming off a 131-yard game, was held to 48 yards in 13
"If you're not on all cylinders against a great defense like that,
you're going to get embarrassed," Bettis said. "And today we got
Stewart, who began the game next-to-last in AFC quarterback ratings,
struggled again in the face of a relentless pass rush. He was sacked
only once but was repeatedly hit after he threw before being replaced
by Mike Tomczak with two minutes remaining.
The Dolphins contained Stewart's scrambling, too. He rushed twice for
"This team is better than this," Stewart said. "I know I am. I know
coach Cowher will get things resolved."
Miami controlled the ball for 35 minutes, thanks largely to Karim
Abdul-Jabbar, who ran for 108 yards in 33 attempts with one score.
Marino, who was mildly criticized last week by coach Jimmy Johnson
for failing to see open receivers, directed a ball-control attack,
mixed his targets nicely and went 14-for-22 with one touchdown. He has
yet to throw an interception this season.
Johnson said the media exaggerated his criticism.
"You guys aren't happy unless you stir up some controversy," he told
reporters. "Dan is playing outstanding. He did a great job for us
today. He could have had a big day numbers-wise if we needed that. The
way the score was, we wanted to keep the ball on the ground."
Middle linebacker Thomas stepped in front of a Stewart pass intended
for Courtney Hawkins and returned the interception for a score and a
21-0 lead midway through the third period. That gave the Dolphins'
defense two touchdowns this season; they've allowed three.
Pittsburgh's next four possessions ended in a punt.
Abdul-Jabbar scored first on a 3-yard run to cap a 64-yard march.
Marino completed all five of his passes in the drive for 57 yards.
On Pittsburgh's first play after the ensuing kickoff, Stewart was
intercepted by Madison. Six players later, Marino's third-and-goal
pass deflected off Dewayne Washington to Lamar Thomas in the end zone
for an 8-yard score and 14-0 lead.
Notes: The Dolphins reported no injuries. ... Steelers safety
Darren Perry sat out the second half with a strained groin. ...
Pittsburgh punter Josh Miller bruised his right knee when teammate
Chris Oldham was pushed into him in the third quarter, but he returned
to kick later in the period. ... Miller pinned Miami down at the
4-yard line in the first period with a 73-yard punt, the longest of
his three-year career. ... Cowher fell to 13-3 against the AFC East.
... Before the game, the Dolphins held a ceremony outside the stadium
to unveil a statue of team founder Joe Robbie, who died in 1990. ...
Abdul-Jabbar lost a fumble in the first period for the first turnover
this season by the Dolphins' offense. ... Abdul-Jabbar scored his
28th career rushing touchdown, which tied him with Jim Kiick for
third on the team's career list