Andra Franklin and Tony Nathan scored on short runs today to lead Miami to a 17-7 victory over Kansas City and assure the Dolphins of a berth in the National Football League playoffs. The loss eliminated the Chiefs (8-7) from postseason competition.
"We wanted to clinch it in Kansas City," Miami Coach Don Shula said. "This was the first step. We set out a long time ago to do things in stages, and we have accomplished one of those stages by reaching the playoffs. We felt we had to get it done today."
The next stage for the Dolphins comes next week against Buffalo in the regular season finale. A victory over the Bills would give the Dolphins the AFC East title and the home field advantage in postseason play.
It was the third straight loss for the Chiefs, who had been seeking their first NFL playoff spot in 10 years.
"Sure, it's frustrating," said Kansas City Coach Marv Levy. "We played hard. We just did not click on enough things offensively by a long shot."
The turning point came in the third quarter, when Nick Lowery attempted a game-tying 46-yard field goal for Kansas City. Jack Rudnay -- making the snap in place of rookie Todd Thomas, who had been injured -- bounced the ball past both Lowery and holder Steve Fuller. Lowery finally fell on the ball more than 20 yards downfield, and Miami took possession at the Kansas City 44.
Ten plays later, Franklin scored his seventh touchdown of the season.
Miami took a 7-0 lead in the first period after Nathan scored on a five-yard run.
After Kansas City took the ensuing kickoff, Joe Delaney, the rookie running back sensation, set up the Chiefs' only score with a 17-yard run. Several plays later, Fuller completed a two-yard touchdown pass to Al Dixon.
But after Delaney left the game in the first period with a bruised back, the Chiefs couldn't muster much offense.
Kansas City almost scored again on the final play of the first half, when Fuller lobbed a desperation pass to the Miami goal line. Dixon and three Dolphin defenders leaped for the ball and tipped it to Kansas City wide receiver J.T. Smith at the one-yard line, where he was tackled by Lyle Blackwood as time ran out.