One of two winless teams left in the NFL, the Dolphins came into Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday with the cloud of two second-half collapses still hovering. They were also facing a Chiefs team that had mastered the art of the comeback: 0-3 to 4-3 in four games.
“I’m just happy for the guys in our locker room,” Sparano said. “All I’ve wanted to do for seven weeks is see these guys smile.”
There was plenty to smile about.
Matt Moore threw for 244 yards and three touchdowns, the first three-TD performance by a Miami quarterback since Chad Pennington in 2008. Reggie Bush ran for 92 yards and another score, and tight end Anthony Fasano hauled in two touchdown passes in the first half.
Brandon Marshall finished with eight catches for 106 yards and another score, once again making for a miserable afternoon for the Chiefs. The former Broncos wide receiver has 52 catches for 689 yards and seven touchdowns in eight games against them in his career.
“We had a couple of big plays, which kind of lit the fire,” Moore said. “You make a couple of big plays early and there’s no telling what can happen.”
The virtuoso performance by the Miami offense helped brush away the spectre of an 0-7 start, which included a pair of disheartening losses the past two weeks: The Dolphins blew a 15-point lead in an overtime loss to Denver and a seven-point lead last week against the New York Giants.
“This is all about the players,” Sparano said. “These guys did a super job all week long of putting all the garbage behind them.”
Kansas City, meanwhile, was the first team since the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2000 to win four straight after losing its first three. But the Steelers went on to win nine in a row that season - the Dolphins made sure the Chiefs wouldn’t be able to accomplish that.
Matt Cassel was 20 of 39 for 253 yards for Kansas City despite going against a secondary that was missing starting cornerback Vontae Davis and had backup Nolan Carroll leave several times during the game with a hamstring injury.
Of course, the defensive backfield didn’t have much to defend.
The Dolphins‘ relentless front spent most of the afternoon in Cassel’s face, sacking him five times and forcing the slow-footed quarterback to scramble nine more times. The Chiefs came into the game having allowed 13 sacks all season, tied for sixth-best in the league.
Things looked promising for Kansas City its opening possession, when it put together a grinding, 14-play, 53-yard drive that Ryan Succop finished off with a 43-yard field goal.