Archive for Saturday, December 30, 2000

Mora will be seeking first postseason win when Colts play Miami today

December 30, 2000


— Jim Mora is 65 but looks younger, surprising given his history in the NFL playoffs.

At 0-5, Mora has the kind of postseason record that puts wrinkles on a coach's face. He'll try again for win No. 1 today when his Indianapolis Colts play the Miami Dolphins in an AFC wild-card game.

"I don't put any extra pressure on myself because I've never been able to win a playoff game," said Mora, the league's oldest coach. "We've tried hard to win those games. We came up short. We'll try hard this week."

Mora went 0-for-New Orleans, losing all four playoff games in 11 years as coach of the Saints. Last season his Colts were widely considered the AFC favorites but were eliminated at home by eventual conference champion Tennessee, 19-16.

"It was a motivating factor in the off-season, finishing on a sour note," quarterback Peyton Manning said.

This year the Colts are seeded last in the AFC playoffs, but they may be the hottest team in the balanced postseason field. To earn a playoff berth, Indy (10-6) had to win its final three games, beating Buffalo, Miami and Minnesota.

"We might be playing better than we played last year at the end of the season," Mora said. "Once you get here anything can happen. Everybody is 0-0. I think it's wide open. It's a pretty even bunch of teams, and who knows what will happen."

The Colts have played better in December than the Dolphins (11-5), who slipped into their traditional late-season slump. Miami needed a fourth-quarter rally to beat New England in the final game and win the AFC East for the first time since 1994.

While Mora seeks a personal playoff breakthrough, coach Dave Wannstedt and his Dolphins must resist the temptation to be satisfied with a season that already has exceeded expectations. Following the retirement of Jimmy Johnson and Dan Marino, the Dolphins were picked by many to finish last in the division.

"I know there are people who wondered whether I could do the job here," Wannstedt said this week in his weekly column for Dolphin Digest. "My first reaction would be to tell those people, 'Well, I showed you.' But that's not the type of person I am. I would never say that to those people, even though deep down I feel that way."

While the Dolphins have surprised the league, they've failed to captivate their fans. Some 7,500 tickets remained unsold Friday, which means a playoff game in Miami will be blacked out for the first time in 17 years. The last NFL playoff telecast to be blacked out was Green Bay at Detroit seven years ago.

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