American Football: Marino out for the season: Quarterback injury puts Miami among the scufflers

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The Independent Online
FOR the Miami Dolphins victory could not have been more dispiriting. They won in Cleveland. They lost Dan Marino. They would not see it as a fair exchange.

With Marino, probably the best pure passing quarterback in the National Football League, the Dolphins entertained realistic Super Bowl aspirations. Without him - and having torn an Achilles tendon in his right foot he is unlikely to play again this year - they join the scufflers.

Marino went down in the second quarter while planting his right foot as he made a 10-yard completion. (It is one of the ironies of American football that the worst injuries in this most brutal of sports often come from apparently innocuous manoeuvres.) 'I stepped up and something popped,' Marino said. 'It doesn't look good.'

Marino, who has never been anything less then devastating since he joined the NFL in 1983 has seen good times and bad times, but had every reason to feel confident about this season. After the Miami offense had been rearmed in the close season he was able to call on more receivers than the bankruptcy court.

Not that Marino could be

described as unlucky. Going into the game he held the record for successive quarterback starts at 145 and has enjoyed a remarkably injury-free career. He had been throwing on borrowed time. Scott Mitchell replaced him against the Browns and threw for 80 yards and two touchdowns as the Dolphins won 24-14.

Marino was for some time the NFL's highest paid player. That honour now belongs to his Cleveland counterpart, Bernie Kosar, though quite why is far from clear. Kosar, 29, had been benched by the Browns in their last two games, but agreed to a seven-year contract worth dollars 42m (pounds 28m) last week. He started against the Dolphins, was again replaced by Vinny Testaverde and afterwards his coach, Bill Belichick, announced that Testaverde would start next week against Cincinnati

The Philadelphia Eagles lost for the first time this season, beaten

17-6 by the visiting Bears from Chicago. The Eagles, without their own franchise quarterback (Randall Cunningham, out with a broken leg) turned to Bubby Brister. Last week Bubby, one of the game's

mercurial talents, was brilliant. This week Brister played like his sister, throwing for two interceptions and fumbling twice. It was the Bears' third successive win.

The Eagles loss allowed the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys to gain ground in the NFC East. The Giants caused the biggest stir in Washington since Gennifer Flowers was in full bloom by winning 41-7 in RFK Stadium. Phil Simms threw for three touchdowns, half-back Dave Meggett for another, as the Skins suffered their worst home defeat in 45 years.

The Cowboys also won away, 27-3 in Indianapolis, with Emmitt Smith rushing for 104 yards and a touchdown. The Super Bowl winners have won all three games since Smith returned from his contract holdout, and even the cautious Jimmy Johnson is getting excited. 'Smith's timing is getting better,' the Dallas head coach said. 'We're only a game back of the Giants and Eagles now. Look out.'

NFL: NY Giants 41 Washington 7, Chicago 17 Philadelphia 6, Miami 24 Cleveland 14, Dallas 27 Indianapolis 3, Kansas City 17 Cincinnati 15, Minnesota 15 Tampa Bay 0, Pittsburgh 16 San Diego 3, New England 23 Phoenix 21, LA Raiders 24 NY Jets 20, Green Bay 30 Denver 27. Did not play: Atlanta, LA Rams, New Orleans, SF 49ers, Detroit and Seattle.