on October 1, 2007 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Vindication for Culpepper: Raiders beat Dolphins 35-17

MIAMI (AP) _ As Daunte Culpepper skipped across the back of the end zone, showboating in celebration of another touchdown, his surgically repaired right knee looked plenty sturdy.

It held up fine Sunday, when Culpepper ran for three touchdowns and threw for two to win a grudge game against his former team, helping the Oakland Raiders beat the winless Miami Dolphins 35-17.

“He had a chip on his shoulder,” teammate Warren Sapp said. “He wanted revenge.”

Culpepper’s slow recovery from major knee surgery limited him to four games last year in his only season with the Dolphins, and his breakup with new Miami coach Cam Cameron was bitter.

After winning in his first start for the Raiders, Culpepper said beating Miami wasn’t personal.

“The only thing I felt bad about is I didn’t have a chance to show the fans here me healthy as a Dolphin,” he said. “But now I had a chance to show them today, and I’m glad I was able to do that.”

Cameron and Culpepper met on the field after the game, and both said the conversation was cordial.

“You have to tip your hat when you’re getting your rear end kicked,” Cameron said.

Miami’s coach has bigger problems than any lingering issues with Culpepper. For the second time in four years, the Dolphins are off to an 0-4 start.

“You can’t feel sorry for yourself,” Cameron said. “Nobody is going to run and hide.”

The Raiders, who won last week when Culpepper came off the bench to replace an injured Josh McCown, improved to 2-2 and head into their bye week with a quarterback controversy looming.

“I’ll handle it when it happens,” coach Lane Kiffin said.

Culpepper led the Raiders out of the tunnel before the game, raising his right fist and punching the air as fans booed. He was far from flashy against his old team, relying on a ground game that totaled 299 yards against an injury-depleted defense.

Justin Fargas replaced an injured LaMont Jordan shortly before halftime and ran for a career-high 179 yards in 22 carries.

“To break their will with the running game is a great feeling,” Fargas said.

The Raiders’ rushing total was their fourth highest since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970 and their highest since 1987.

Culpepper threw only 12 times and completed five for 75 yards. But he hit Jerry Porter for scores of 7 and 27 yards, and he had three short touchdown runs.

Culpepper’s best bit of scrambling came on a third-and-goal at the 5. Unable to find an open receiver, he sprinted to his left, outran two Dolphins, turned the corner and held the ball out as he dived over the goal line.

A jubilant Culpepper rose, tapped his surgically repaired right knee and signaled “OK” to the crowd.

“There were a lot of questions about my knee,” he said. “Everywhere I would go, people would ask me about my knee. I wanted to say, ‘Hey, I’m OK. I’m getting better every day.’”

Culpepper skipped to the sideline, then did a Temptations dance step and threw a fist. He scored again a 3-yard keeper on fourth down with 23 seconds left.

“Good for him,” Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor said. “Everybody doubted him. They said he was too old and too hurt, but they say that about a lot of guys.”

The Raiders lost leading rusher Jordan to a back injury shortly before halftime, but their ground game still dominated. Miami played without middle linebacker Zach Thomas, sidelined for the second game in a row by a concussion, and lost defenders Channing Crowder and Vonnie Holliday to ankle injuries in the first half.

Ronnie Brown ran for 134 yards and caught six passes for 73 for the Dolphins, but they fell behind early and had possession for less than 25 minutes.

The loss was especially humbling for Miami linebacker Joey Porter, who had guaranteed a win.

“What’s he going to guarantee next week?” Sapp said. “It’s tough when you run your mouth.”

Said Porter: “The truth is, we’re not a good team right now.”

Notes:@ For the second time in three weeks, a Raiders game was delayed by lightning, this time at the start for 30 minutes. … Oakland had lost six games in a row to the Dolphins and beat them for the first time since 1996. … For the first time since 1995, the Dolphins have allowed at least 30 points in three consecutive games.