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DOLPHINS' MARINO LOWERS BOOM AGAINST JETS

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- So much for the demise of Dan Marino. All it took was seeing the New York Jets on the other side of the ball for him to start acting like the NFL's top passer.

Marino threw for 372 yards and two scores Sunday in leading the Miami Dolphins to a 31-20 win. Marino hit 27 of 38 passes for his most yardage against the Jets since 1989.

"You don't have to have a 300-yard game to be great, you just have to be efficient," said Marino, who has thrown for more yards and TD passes against New York than any other opponent.

Marino struggled early this season and there even was a hint from coach Jimmy Johnson about benching the 15-year veteran. Marino erased those thoughts with his highest passing yardage since Oct. 1, 1995, when he had 450 against Cincinnati.

"I think I am part of a group," he said. "The whole offense has been having trouble in the red zone . . . but I feel like we're coming along a lot better than at the beginning of the year. We've got guys hurt, so we have to spread it around."

Which meant throwing to eight receivers, with no completion longer than 36 yards.

"Marino was great today," Johnson said, noting that the Dolphins are undermanned due to injuries, which puts more stress on his star quarterback. "Fourteen surgeries, five players on injured reserve, we're going to be a good team. It's coming."

So, apparently, is the defense, which was staunch in support of Marino, a rarity for so long in this matchup, which Miami usually wins: Marino is 16-9 against the Jets with six straight successful starts. Miami (4-2) had five sacks of Neil O'Donnell and shut out the Jets (4-3) in the second half until 1:03 remained, snapping New York's three-game winning streak. The Dolphins held Adrian Murrell to 29 yards rushing.

"We came up big against a good team on the road," said linebacker Zach Thomas, who led Miami with 11 tackles. "We got some confidence. We stood strong."

Miami clinched the victory with a weird touchdown with 4:09 remaining. Charles Jordan caught a pass at the Jets 4, was hit hard by Ray Mickens and fumbled. The ball bounced right to Dolphins receiver O.J. McDuffie, who ran it into the end zone.

Irving Spikes added an 8-yard TD run with 1:56 to go for Miami, while Wayne Chrebet caught an 8-yard scoring pass for the Jets 53 seconds later.

New York started quickly as Chrebet got free for a 70-yard pass play, the longest reception of his three-year career. Rookie Leon Johnson scored his first NFL touchdown from the 1 on the next play.

Miami running back Karim Abdul-Jabbar then had a first of his own with a 36-yard reception for a touchdown. He took a short pass from Marino with no Jet within 10 yards of him and pranced into the end zone for his first career TD catch.

Keyshawn Johnson's leaping 7-yard TD catch -- the pass was intended for Chrebet heading the other way in the end zone -- capped a 77-yard drive and put the Jets on top, 14-7, in the second quarter.

Back came the Dolphins on Marino's pinpoint passing, capping a 75-yard march with a 22-yard pass to Lamar Thomas.

"Dan Marino played well," Jets coach Bill Parcells said. "He is one of the best quarterbacks ever."

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