MIAMI - When injuries sidelined two quarterbacks, the Miami Dolphins went without, resorting to the wildcat. Then third-stringer Tyler Thigpen came off the bench to seal a bizarre victory.
Anything-goes play-calling Sunday helped compensate for the loss of Chad Pennington and Chad Henne, and the Dolphins beat the Tennessee Titans 29-17.
"They beat us with basically no quarterbacks," Titans defensive tackle Jovan Haye said.
"That's the thing about this game - anything can happen," Dolphins receiver Davone Bess said. "It's all a matter of how you react and deal with it."
Miami achieved a season-high point total, despite the revolving door at QB, and defense helped too. Randy Moss managed just one catch in his first game with the Titans, and takeaways by Miami led to two touchdowns.
Pennington suffered a right shoulder injury that could be career-ending, and Henne was on crutches after the game with a left knee injury. The wildcat proved a capable substitute, netting 49 yards in seven snaps. And Thigpen - summoned for the first time this season - led an 85-yard touchdown drive for the game's final points.
"I knew I had to take advantage of my opportunity to help my team win," Thigpen said. "It wasn't about my stats; it was about getting us in the end zone and winning the game."
The Dolphins (5-4) snapped a five-game home losing streak, including three losses this season.
"It's huge getting this win," coach Tony Sparano said. "This is November. If you don't win in November, you've got no chance."
The Titans (5-4) lost coming off a bye for the first time in five years. The defeat left them a game behind first-place Indianapolis in the AFC South.
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Pennington's return lasted two plays before he left with another injury to his troublesome right shoulder. He was hit while throwing an incompletion on the first play, completed a pass on the next play, then left the game.
Promoted when Henne was benched during the week, Pennington hadn't played since a shoulder injury ended his 2009 season in Game 3.
Henne injured his knee late in the third quarter when hit attempting a pass. He was scheduled to undergo an MRI exam and said his knee hurt.
"We're stuck with this situation," he said. "We'll see what happens."
The wildcat, dormant most of the season, netted 41 yards when the Dolphins used it for five consecutive snaps after Henne went out, leading to a field goal for a 23-17 lead. Thigpen then entered and went 4 for 6 for 64 yards, including a 9-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Fasano.
Miami plays again Thursday against Chicago, and the short week increases the likelihood Thigpen will start the next game.
"I have no clue," he said. "We're going to enjoy this victory for about 12 hours, and then we're going to come to work and get ready for the game."
Desperate to spark an offense ranked last in the AFC in scoring, the Dolphins tried a fake punt and two flea-flickers, including one with receiver Brandon Marshall throwing deep.
Marshall threw incomplete, and the fake punt failed, leading to a Tennessee field goal. But the other flea-flicker worked with a Henne pass for 54 yards - Miami's longest gain of the season - to set up a field goal.
"Coming into this game, we wanted to try to put the pedal down a little," Sparano said.
Meanwhile, the Titans sputtered regardless of the quarterback. On his third play of the game, Young fumbled when sacked and Randy Starks recovered at the Titans' 13. Two plays later Patrick Cobbs scored on a 13-yard reception to put Miami ahead 20-10.
Young then led a 73-yard touchdown drive that ended with his 14-yard scoring pass to Nate Washington. But Young threw an interception trying to rally the Titans when they were down 12 points in the final minutes.
Moss, shut out by Vontae Davis in a matchup earlier this season, this time needed 55 minutes to make his only catch. He also drew a 31-yard interference penalty on Davis on a deep pattern to set up the Titans' first score.
"I just want to fit within the offense and help this team win," Moss said. "If me being a decoy and moving the ball and helping the team win is what I need to do, that's what I need to do."
Notes: Six players took snaps, including RB Ronnie Brown in the wildcat. ... Following a reception, Marshall threw the ball to the sideline, apparently in anger because he slipped after the catch. That resulted in a 5-yard penalty for delay of game. ... Miami TE Anthony Fasano had five catches for a career-best 107 yards. ... Collins fell to 0-5 against the Dolphins. ... Tennessee's Chris Johnson ran for 117 yards, his fifth 100-yard game this season.
PFT: Tom Brady, who turns 36 in August, says he has "never felt better throwing the football" and his confidence is peaking.
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