Mitchell throws Shula into a tie with Halas, 30-10 3 TD passes drop Chiefs for win 324

November 01, 1993|By Armando Salguero | Armando Salguero,Knight-Ridder News Service

MIAMI -- The Kansas City Chiefs had Joe Montana. The Miami Dolphins had Scott Mitchell. It wasn't supposed to be close. And it wasn't.

On a historic day when Kansas City pinned its hopes for victory on its superstar showing Mitchell how the quarterback of a Super Bowl contender should perform, Mitchell earned the respect of his opponents in a resounding 30-10 Dolphins win.

Yesterday against the backdrop of Don Shula's attempt at career victory No. 324 to tie George Halas for the all-time record, the Chiefs intended to delay the celebration by baffling Mitchell in his second start in place of the injured Dan Marino.

But the reason Shula will be seeking his record-breaking 325th career victory next Sunday against the New York Jets is that Mitchell answered the Kansas City challenge.

And Montana? He was carted off the field just before the end of the first half, the victim of yet another hamstring injury, leaving not even a whisper of offense in his wake.

"We answered one question today," Chiefs coach Marty Schottenheimer said in disgust. "The Dolphins can win with Scott Mitchell."

Kansas City (5-2) didn't think it could be done.

"They were daring us to throw, stacking eight guys on the line of scrimmage and blitzing," guard Keith Sims said. "When a team does that, it's like they don't believe your quarterback can beat them."

But the Chiefs are among the ranks of the believers now. Mitchell converted them by completing 22 of 33 passes for 344 yards and three touchdowns.

It was the first time this season a Miami quarterback -- Marino included -- threw for over 300 yards.

Even Shula, who would love to have Marino at his disposal, is pleased to have Mitchell in relief.

"It's a great feeling to see him go out there and play like this," Shula said. "It's hard to see how any quarterback could play much better than Mitchell did today."

And Shula, who has coached such Hall of Famers as Johnny Unitas and Bob Griese en route to his 324-152-6 mark with the Dolphins and Baltimore Colts, knows quarterbacks.

His reward for the record-tying victory? Linebacker Bryan Cox dunked a pail of ice water on Shula's head.

How did Shula react?

"I told him I loved him," Shula replied. He was clearly pleased -- if a bit wet -- after the game.

"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."

The 483 total net yards was the most by the Dolphins since 1989. And the 71 points the team has scored in the past two games is the most over two consecutive games since September 1986.

Simply, the Chiefs found out something receiver Irving Fryar and his Miami teammates have learned since Mitchell emerged on the scene.

"You better not mess with Scott Mitchell 'cause he'll make you pay," Fryar said. "If you blitz the guy, he's going to burn you. If you try to take away the run, but give him the pass, he'll be happy to win doing that. Mitch has been playing behind the best quarterback in the league for four years so you know he learned something."

Mitchell had expected teams to challenge his ability and expects it to continue next week and beyond. Bring it on, he says.

"I knew people would try to test me, and that's fine," Mitchell said. "I'm not afraid of people blitzing me.

Proof:

In the first quarter, Mitchell ignores the problems a nickel defense poses on a second-and-18 situation by finding Fryar behind Albert Lewis for a 27-yard touchdown.

More proof:

An 8-yard touchdown pass to Keith Byars to give the Dolphins a 13-0 lead in the second quarter beats a blitz up the middle.

And still more proof for those really hard to convince:

Mitchell's 77-yard pass to Mark Ingram came when Mitchell decided not to check out of the play against his better judgment.

"The play is not really supposed to be a good play for us against the defense they were in," Mitchell said. "But Mark found a soft spot."

"He just knows what's happening out there all the time," Shula said. "He's so aware."

NFL COACHING WINS

7+

Coach .. .. .. W .. .. LT .. .. Pct.

x-Don Shula . .. .. 324 ... 152 . .. 6 .678

George Halas ... .. 324 ... 151 . . 31 .671

Tom Landry .. .. .. 270 ... 178 . .. 6 .601

Curly Lambeau .. .. 229 ... 1342 ... 2 .623

Chuck Noll .. .. .. 209 ... 156 . .. 1 .572

x-active

Note: 73 of Shula's wins came as coach of Baltimore Colts from 1963 to 1969.

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