Seahawks 22, Dolphins 15
MIAMI (AP) _ Dennis Erickson remains tough to beat in Miami.
On a rainy Sunday, the former Miami Hurricanes coach came away with a much-needed victory for his Seattle Seahawks. New starter John Friesz threw three long touchdown passes, including an 80-yarder to Brian Blades with 2:03 remaining, for a 22-15 victory over the stunned Miami Dolphins.
``This one was extra special,″ Erickson said. ``It’s meaningful for me. No. 1, it’s here against the Dolphins, but aside from that it makes us 2-4.″
Friesz, starting for the first time this season after Erickson benched Rick Mirer, threw touchdown passes of 65 and 51 yards to Joey Galloway as Seattle built a 14-3 lead.
Erickson led the University of Miami to two national championships before leaving a program plagued by controversy in January 1995. When introduced before the game, the crowd booed.
``I wouldn’t know,″ Erickson said when asked about the jeers. ``I had my headphones turned way up high.″
The Dolphins fell to 3-2. Coach Jimmy Johnson, Erickson’s predecessor at the University of Miami, lost in Florida for the first time in 33 games. His last defeat in the state came in 1985 when the Florida Gators beat the Hurricanes.
``Obviously we didn’t play very well,″ Johnson said. ``There’s no way you can give up three big plays on pass defense and expect to win.″
Friesz, who completed 18 of 32 passes for 301 yards with one interception, didn’t seem bothered by frequent heavy rain that had players slipping and sliding and left the stands less than half full.
His performance could silence speculation that the Seahawks will acquire suspended Atlanta quarterback Jeff George prior to Tuesday’s NFL trade deadline.
``Until something happens, I can’t really comment on that,″ Erickson said. ``All I can say is John Friesz is our starting quarterback right now.″
``I expect to be the quarterback here,″ said Friesz, 29. ``I know I can do the job.″
Craig Erickson, making his first start for Miami in place of the injured Dan Marino, completed 16 of 28 passes for 243 yards, including a 33-yard touchdown to Randal Hill. But Erickson was sacked four times, threw an interception and fumbled four snaps from center, losing two.
He declined to blame the weather.
``I’ve played a lot of high school football in the rain,″ said Erickson, a Florida native. ``It’s just my fault. I’ve got to take care of the ball a little better.″
Miami reached the Seattle 44 in the final minute before Erickson’s fourth-down pass was intercepted by Robert Blackmon.
``Craig did a decent job except for the fumbles,″ Johnson said. ``It was about like the rest of the team.″
The Dolphins have lost eight consecutive games when Marino doesn’t start. He’s expected to miss another two to four games because of a fractured ankle.
The Dolphins took a 15-14 lead late in the third quarter with their best drive of the day. It covered 80 yards and was capped by Irving Spikes’ 2-yard touchdown run.
But the Seahawks forced Miami to punt three times in the fourth quarter, then capitalized after taking over at their 20 with 2:28 left. On third down, Blades found himself working against cornerback Calvin Jackson.
``I was happy to see him in 1-on-1 coverage,″ Friesz said. ``I knew if he drew that, he would be able to go the distance.″
When Jackson slipped, Blades caught Friesz’s pass over the middle at the Seattle 35 and outran Gene Atkins to the end zone.
``I just fell,″ Jackson said. ``You can’t let things like that happen.″
``A guy catches a ball 10 yards downfield and goes 80,″ Dolphins cornerback Terrell Buckley said. ``You don’t see that. That doesn’t happen too often in this league.″
Lamar Smith ran for the two-point conversion.
The Seahawks came into the game with two touchdown passes this season, then doubled that total in 18 minutes against the Dolphins.
``We saw some things on film coverage-wise that told us that we could get the ball deep on them,″ Friesz said.
Seattle took a 7-3 lead on the final play of the first period, burning a Miami blitz when Friesz lofted a pass to Galloway. He outjumped Jackson to make the catch and raced the final 40 yards for a 65-yard touchdown.
The same combination struck in the second period. Friesz threw long over the middle to a wide-open Galloway, who then eluded three defensive backs to complete a 51-yard score.
The Dolphins must regroup for their AFC East showdown Sunday at Buffalo.
``This is a setback,″ Johnson said. ``But in a season you’re going to have highs and lows. Obviously we have to correct the mistakes we made today, because we have a big challenge ahead of us.″