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11/18/2013 1:43 AM EST
Embattled Dolphins stop Chargers to win, 20-16
MIAMI 20, SAN DIEGO 16

By STEVEN WINE
AP Sports Writer

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) -- Ryan Tannehill watched the final play
from the sideline, hopping anxiously as an opponent's
desperation heave hung in the air, then letting out a jubilant
scream when a teammate swatted the ball to the turf.

At the end of a dismal week, the Miami Dolphins finally had
something to celebrate.

Brent Grimes broke up Philip Rivers' final pass in the end zone
as time expired, and the embattled Dolphins beat the San Diego
Chargers 20-16 Sunday.

Tannehill threw for 268 yards, including a 39-yard score to
Charles Clay, who broke two tackles on the play. Miami managed
104 yards rushing behind a makeshift line.

The victory came amid a harassment scandal that raised questions
regarding the team's locker room culture. An NFL special
investigator will question players this week about the
relationship between offensive tackle Jonathan Martin and guard
Richie Incognito.

"There's a lot going on, but we're not focused on that,"
Tannehill said. "We're focused on football."

The Dolphins (5-5) won for only the second time in the past
seven games. They're still in contention for an AFC wild-card
berth, despite a dreadful defeat last Monday at Tampa Bay and
the distractions of the harassment case.

"We're fighting through this," tackle Tyson Clabo said.
"Someone's got to get that last wild-card spot. Why not us?"

The Chargers (4-6), who were plagued by penalties and missed
tackles, lost their third game in a row.

"We made too many mistakes from start to finish," coach Mike
McCoy said. "We hurt ourselves way too much."

Trailing by four points, San Diego started from its own 17 with
1:54 left and drove to the Miami 25. On the final play, a
harried Rivers lofted a pass toward Vincent Brown in the end
zone, but the 5-foot-10 Grimes leaped to slap the ball away.

Rivers threw for 298 yards and Ryan Mathews ran for 127,
including a career-best, 51-yard dash to set up a field goal.
But the Chargers had 10 penalties for 76 yards, including two
infractions that cost them 11 points in the first half.

"Ten penalties, that's a lot," Rivers said. "We're not playing
well enough to overcome those things."

Miami played at home for the first time since the scandal broke.
The stands were less than two-thirds full, and an airplane
banner reflected the mood by calling for the firing of general
manager Jeff Ireland, who has long been in disfavor with fans.

Because center Mike Pouncey missed the game with an illness, the
Dolphins had three backups starting on the offensive line.
Martin missed his third consecutive game while undergoing
treatment for emotional issues, and the suspended Incognito sat
out his second game.

Working behind the patchwork line, Tannehill was sacked four
times, increasing his NFL-high season total to 41. But Miami
averaged 5.5 yards per rush to limit the Chargers' time of
possession.

As usual, the Dolphins went with pass plays two-thirds of the
time. On the game's opening drive, they marched 76 yards - with
all but 2 coming through the air - for a field goal.

Penalties repeatedly hurt the Chargers. Corey Liuget was flagged
for roughing the passer to negate a teammate's fumble recovery
at the San Diego 1, and two plays later the Dolphins scored a
touchdown for a 10-7 lead.

Liuget said he didn't see Tannehill get rid of the ball.

"It was a costly penalty for us," Liuget said. "I wish I could
get that one back. It's not a great feeling at all."

A scrambling Rivers hit Antonio Gates for a 5-yard touchdown
with a minute left in the first half, but the quarterback was
flagged for throwing past the line of scrimmage, and the
Chargers settled for a field goal that made it 10-all at
halftime.

A drive in the second half stalled after receiver Keenan Allen
was flagged 15 yards for taunting, and the Chargers defense was
penalized four times for offsides.

San Diego's Derek Cox dropped a potential pick-six in the first
quarter, and on the next play Johnny Patrick intercepted
Tannehill at midfield. The Chargers scored four plays later for
a 7-3 lead.

Clay put Miami ahead to stay in the third quarter when he caught
a short pass and ran over defenders Marcus Gilchrist and Donald
Butler en route to the end zone, making it 17-10.

Notes: Chargers CB Johnny Patrick missed the second half with a
head injury. ... Dolphins CB Dimitri Patterson left the game in
the first half when he aggravated the groin injury that has
bothered him for much of the season. ... The Chargers have lost
seven in a row in Miami since their memorable 41-38 overtime
playoff victory in January 1982.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Follow Steven Wine on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Steve-Wine

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