MIAMI -- Miami's Sammie Smith coughed up the ball on a first-and-goal dive play at the 1-yard line yesterday, and Houston's Cris Dishman recovered in the end zone with 3 minutes, 10 seconds left to clinch a 17-13 victory.
Smith's fumble was his second at the goal line in as many weeks. The earlier bobble sparked a 42-7 Kansas City rout as Chris Martin returned it 100 yards for a touchdown.
"It was the same play they fumbled on in Kansas City," Houston coach Jack Pardee said. "We were hoping for a repeat."
"A ballcarrier has to protect the ball," Miami coach Don Shula said. "You know you're going to be getting hit down there. You have to be able to handle it. We didn't and haven't now for two weeks."
Miami's five turnovers also included an interception that rookie Darryll Lewis returned 33 yards untouched for the game's first touchdown. Surprisingly stout defense by the Dolphins limited Houston's run-and-shoot to one touchdown, partly by forcing four turnovers.
Smith took the handoff and appeared about to score when linebacker Lamar Lathon grazed his arm and the ball came out. The turnover squandered a nine-play, 75-yard drive. The Oilers took over at the 20 and ran out the clock.