American Football: Dolphins splash out for Shula's record: Convincing win puts Miami coach on a par with legend

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The Independent Online
THE first liquid celebration to pass Don Shula's way after the Miami Dolphins coach had equalled George Halas' record of 324 National Football League victories was some iced water. A bucket of it, poured over the venerated 63-year-old by the linebacker Bryan Cox. The soaked Shula's reaction? 'I told him I loved him.'

The sound of Dolphins splashing about in water came after their 30-10 victory over Kansas City Chiefs at the Joe Robbie Stadium. Miami were again missing the injured Dan Marino but their NBA-sized back-up quarterback, Scott Mitchell, proved an exceptional deputy once more, passing for 344 yards and three touchdowns. Mitchell's success contrasted with Kansas's pass-master, Joe Montana, who aggravated a hamstring injury and limped off in the second quarter.

'I'm very happy to tie a record by a guy who's meant so much to the National Football League,' Shula said. 'I never even thought when I first started coaching that there would be a day like this.' Shula moved alongside 'Papa Bear' Halas, Chicago's great pre and post-war motivator, in his 31st season as an NFL head coach, 24 of which have been spent with Miami. Shula's success on Sunday came on the 10th anniversary of Halas' death.

While Shula was tying records, Emmitt Smith and Reggie White were rearranging them. Dallas's fifth win on the spin, a 23-10 triumph at Philadelphia, was underpinned by a prodigious display of running from Smith, who dashed to a club-record 237 yards (the sixth highest in NFL history), the highlight being a 62-yard trip to the end zone. 'I have never seen him run harder,' Troy Aikman, the Cowboys quarterback, said. The Super Bowl champions are now tied at the top of the NFC East with the Giants, who were defeated 10-6 in the New York derby. The Jets sealed victory in the third quarter, Brad Baxter nipping over from two yards to climax an 18- play, 79-yard drive lasting 11min 15sec.

White's mark arrived at Lambeau Field where the Green Bay defensive end surpassed the Giants' Lawrence Taylor for most sacks, records of which have been kept only since 1982. The Chattanooga express pushed his total to 1301 2 by twice felling Jim Harbaugh, a familiar feeling for the Chicago quarterback, who was decked seven times in the Bears' 17-3 loss.

Denver, helped by the Chiefs' woes, moved within one win of the AFC West summit following their 28-17 victory over Seattle. John Elway raised his Mile High record to 60-16 with two touchdown passes in a 255-yard show.

LA's finest flopped on a day of Californian introspection. T J Rubley's first start was brutal, Jim Everett's replacement being sacked six times as the Rams lost 40-17 at San Francisco. Back at the Coliseum, the Raiders went down 30-23 to San Diego. Donald Frank's 102-yard interception for a touchdown (a yard shy of the NFL record) in the third quarter with the score 17-17 turned the tide the Chargers' way.

NFL: Green Bay 17 Chicago 3; Miami 30 Kansas City 10; Indianapolis 9 New England 6; Tampa Bay 31 Atlanta 24; New York Jets 10 New York Giants 6; Dallas 23 Philadelphia 10; New Orleans 20 Phoenix 17; San Diego 30 LA Raiders 23; San Francisco 40 LA Rams 17; Denver 28 Seattle 17; Detroit 30 Minnesota 27.

(Photograph omitted)