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Taylor, defense lead Dolphins past Vikings

Nov 19, 2006 - 9:38 PM MIAMI (Ticker) -- The Miami Dolphins are having fun again.

Free safety Renaldo Hill and defensive end Jason Taylor had fourth-quarter touchdowns and the Dolphins forced six turnovers en route to a 24-20 victory over the Minnesota Vikings in an interconference contest.

Entering the season with high expectations after acquiring three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Daunte Culpepper from the Vikings, the Dolphins (4-6) lost six of their first seven games.

But the Dolphins came into this contest with wins in their last two games thanks to a defense that allowed a total of 23 points. Two weeks ago, Miami forced six turnovers in handing Chicago its first loss.

"It wasn't one of our best days all the way around but we made the plays we had to," Dolphins coach Nick Saban said. "We made two big plays on defense."

On Sunday, the Dolphins again made all the big defensive plays.

Hill returned a fumble by running back Chester Taylor 50 yards for a touchdown with 9:27 remaining in the fourth quarter to give the Dolphins a 17-13 lead.

Jason Taylor stepped in front of a pass by Brad Johnson, bringing back an interception 51 yards for a score to make it 24-13 with 3:25 left.

It was the second interception return for a touchdown this season for Taylor and seventh of his career, tying former Giant George Martin's NFL record for the most by a lineman.

"He has made more big plays this year than - I can't remember anybody who's made anymore than he's made in my time coaching on any team that I've been a part of," Saban said.

"He's Superman. I asked him if he had a big S on his chest," Dolphins strong safety Yeremiah Bell said.

Chester Taylor rushed for 80 yards and two TDs for the Vikings (4-6), who lost their fourth straight game.

The Vikings continued their losing ways despite their top-ranked rushing defense holding the Dolphins to minus-three yards on 14 carries.

Miami also lost a fumble at the Minnesota 1 and had a 58-yard TD pass from Joey Harrington to Chris Chambers nullified by a penalty in the third quarter.

With the Vikings holding a 13-10 lead, Chester Taylor had the ball jarred loose by defensive end Matt Roth. Hill scooped up the fumble and sprinted to the end zone.

"I was just trying to fight for yardage and they just got up in there," said Chester Taylor, who lost two fumbles. "You just got to protect it. It's real disappointing. I pride myself on not fumbling. I did a great job up to now. When I'm in a crowd I have to hold on to it tighter."

"Yeah, however it came out, I'm just glad I was there to be able to scoop and score," Hill said. "That's something we work on in practice all the time, scooping and scoring. I guess repetition really helped us out that time."

Jason Taylor sealed things, stepping in front of a screen pass from Johnson and zig-zagging his way to the end zone.

"He's unbelievable. I asked him and he said he read the scheme," said Johnson, who completed 26-of-44 passes for 262 yards. "I felt we had him blocked. I never saw him until after he made the play. That was a big play. He stayed hidden behind somebody, I think it was (tackle Bryant) McKinnie."

"Turnovers are always the difference, particularly when you have two returned for scores," Vikings first-year coach Brad Childress said. "That is very difficult to overcome. We had a 13-10 lead, but we were unable to hold onto the football."

Harrington went 26-of-42 for 254 yards and a touchdown with an interception that nearly proved costly.

Cornerback Antoine Winfield intercepted Harrington in the third quarter, returning the pick 26 yards to the Miami 3. That set up Ryan Longwell's 19-yard field goal 48 seconds into the fourth quarter, which snapped a 10-10 tie.

Chester Taylor scored on a one-yard run on the game's final play. He also opened the scoring with a one-yard TD run

Olindo Mare kicked a 44-yard field goal less than a minute into the second quarter before Harrington threw an 11-yard TD pass to tight end Justin Peelle with 5:34 left in the half to give the Dolphins a 10-7 lead.

Miami plays at Detroit on Thanksgiving.

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