Fielder thrives in the spotlight

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The Independent Online

It was supposed to be Dan Marino's day, but the Miami Dolphins' legendary quarterback of yesteryear was upstaged by his successor, the less-illustrious Jay Fiedler, who gave an assured performance in guiding his side past the previously-unbeaten Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

It was supposed to be Dan Marino's day, but the Miami Dolphins' legendary quarterback of yesteryear was upstaged by his successor, the less-illustrious Jay Fiedler, who gave an assured performance in guiding his side past the previously-unbeaten Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

Marino, the most prolific passer in league history, was on hand to have his jersey retired by the Dolphins organisation, the ultimate honour a team can bestow on a former player. Worse for Marino's successor, the league's all-time record-holder for touchdowns and yardage had also publicly criticised his former employers for their decision to hand the job to Fiedler, an unheralded journeyman who had once walked out of a London Monarchs training camp.

Despite performing under the glare of one of the game's unquestioned greats, Fiedler held his nerve, completing 11 of his 16 attempts for 160 yards and a touchdown in the 19-6 triumph. "I'm not going out there trying to be Dan Marino," said Fiedler, whose eight-yard touchdown pass to Lamar Smith sealed the victory. "I don't make the plays Dan made, but I don't feel the pressure of his shadow on me at all."

His counterpart, Tony Banks, suffered a hard fall from grace. Last week he was acclaimed for a five-touchdown performance as Baltimore came from behind to beat Jacksonville. Against an uncompromising Dolphins defence, he threw an interception, sustained six sacks and gave up two fumbles.

While the Ravens lost their unbeaten record, other contenders caught the eye. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are Super Bowl favourites following their 31-10 humbling of the Lions in Detroit. Always formidable defensively, Tampa Bay now boast an offense to match, the young quarter-back Shaun King impressing with 211 passing yards and a touchdown.

Kurt Warner threw two more interceptions, but nothing seems to slow the St Louis Rams' quarter-back these days. He passed for 394 yards as the defending champions obliterated the feeble San Francisco 49ers 41-24. The Rams scored more than 30 points for the ninth straight game, a league record, and while Warner has thrown six interceptions in three games, the former Amsterdam Admiral remains irresistible.

To general amazement, both New York teams remain undefeated, but they are achieving success in contrasting styles. The Giants employ a no-frills philosophy utilising the running of Tiki Barber and the passing of their maturing quarter-back Kerry Collins: both were significant factors in the determined 14-7 win in Chicago.

It was left to the Jets to provide the fireworks with a significant 24-14 victory over the Buffalo Bills. Kevin Williams set the tone with a dazzling 97-yard kick-off return, but the big play came as time expired at the end of the first half. The quarter-back Vinny Testaverde hurled a hopeful pass into the end zone. Five defenders surrounded Marcus Coleman, but the Jets receiver grabbed the ball for a touchdown, giving his team a lead they would not relinquish.

Similarly, the Minnesota Vikings remain unbeaten after a 21-13 victory in New England. But the individual performance of the weekend came in Kansas City, where the Chiefs fell 10 points behind to the San Diego Chargers, and the quarter-back Elvis Grbac was roundly booed. The booing did not last long, Grbac throwing five touchdown passes, three of them to rookie receiver Sylvester Morris, as the Chiefs rallied for a 42-10 win, their first of the campaign.

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