Bob Griese's near-perfect passing, including touchdown passes to Nat Moore and Duriel Harris, led the Miami Dolphins to a 23-3 NFL victory tonight over a New England Patriots team stunned by the suspension of Coach Chuck Fairbanks.
Assistants handled the club although Fairbanks rode to the Orange Bowl on the team bus and arrived expecting to coach the team, Patriot spokesman Pat Horne said.
"There was a misunderstanding of what the final words were between the two of them (Fairbanks and owner William Sullivan)" after a meeting this morning, Horne said. "Chuck came here tonight with the understanding of coaching the team."
While the Patriots were on the field warming up, Sullivan told Fairbanks again that he could not coach the game.
"Billy reiterated to him that he would be in violation of the contract," Horne said.
Griese completed 12 to 13 passes for 171 yards with no interceptions as the Dolphins gained the home field in their Dec. 24 wild-card playoff game with the Houston Oilers. Both Miami and New England finished 11-5 byut the Patriots won the American Football Conference East because they had the better record within the division.
Griese delivered scoring passes covering six yards to Moore and 17 to Harris, and a 40-yard pass play to Harris set up a one-yard Gary Davis plunge in the third quarter.
The Patriots' only score came on David Posey's 35-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. The Dolphin defense stopped New England three times inside the Miami five-yard line and intercepted three Patriot passes.
Regular quarterback Steve Grogan three the first one and Tom Owen yeilded two after Grogan left the game in the second quarter with a mild knee sprain.
The Dolphins called time with six seconds left in the game, allowing Garo Yepremian to kick a 30-yard field goal that tied the NFL record of 16 straight without a miss. The record is shared by
Jan Stenerud of Kansas City and Don Cockroft of Cleveland.
The interceptions by Gerald Small, Norris Thomas and Tim Foley gave the Dolphins 12 in thier last four games. The Miami defense, critcized when the team slumped in midseason, held Washington, Oakland and New England to a combined nine points in its last three games.
Small's interception set up the second touchdown. He picked off a Grogan pass in the end zone and returned it to the Miam 40 in the second quarter. On the next play, Griese took a pitch back from fullback Leroy Harris and threw a 38-yard completion to Duriel Harris. Two plas later, he found Duriel Harris in the end zone.
The extra point was blocked by Raymond Hamiltion.
The first-quarter touchdown pass to Moore capped a 69-yard drive keyed by a 37-yard completion to Moore and a 17-yard pass to tight end Andre Tillman. The touchdown reception was Moore's 10th of the season and 22nd in tow seasons.
Fairbanks was in the New England locker room shaking hands with team members as they filed out to begin the game. Well into the second quarter, the suspended coach emerged from a dressing room side entrance an dwalked briskly, without comment, down a corridor and into another room beneath the stadium.
Horne said Fairbanks was going home to Foxboro, Mass., either tonight or Tuesday.ong jumper at UCLA, hurdles Miami defenders to prod