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Dolphins take 5-2 road record to Meadowlands, aim for playoffs

DAVIE, Fla. -- As far as Dan Henning is concerned, there's no home-field advantage at the Meadowlands this time of year.

"Everybody better be wary," the Miami Dolphins' offensive coordinator said. "The wind is different. It could be very cold, it could be very windy, it could be weather, it could be anything."

Not that home-field advantage would matter much for this Miami team, which will face the New York Jets about 1,200 miles from Dolphin Stadium on Sunday needing a win to earn its first playoff berth since 2001.

"I don't think there's an edge," Henning said. "I'm positive that it's going to be a competitive game."

The Dolphins (10-5) seem perfectly comfortable playing in front of unfriendly crowds in unfamiliar settings this season. Miami is 5-2 on the road, and only three teams in the league can beat that road record, which is the same as the Jets' home record.

"We just like going out there and just silencing the crowd," Dolphins center Samson Satele said. "Playing away from home, everybody's got a little more fight in them."

So, Jets fans, take note -- the Dolphins would like those boos to keep on coming.

"When you play on the road, for me, it's exciting," Miami running back Ronnie Brown said. "You have the crowd, and you just kind of use that as motivation, as extra energy."

Even as temperatures have dipped around most of the nation (it was 42 degrees in East Rutherford, N.J., on Thursday), the warm-weather Dolphins have found ways to win away from South Florida. They will face the Jets coming off their coldest game of the season -- Sunday's 38-31 win at Kansas City, where the temperature was 10 degrees, with a wind chill of minus-12.

"We're not worried about the weather," Dolphins safety Yeremiah Bell said. "After Kansas City, we feel we can play in anything."

The Dolphins and Jets already have a spirited rivalry, but this contest is being hyped as Miami's most important game in years. A Dolphins victory over New York would mean winning the AFC East and completing the team's drastic turnaround from last year's 1-15 season. The Jets need a win and a loss by New England or Baltimore to make the playoffs.

"Sometimes when you take your team away, there's actually fewer distractions than there is at home," Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said. "When you're out there on the road, its just you and your team. And I kind of like that. I think this team likes that."

Sure, coach. It's just you, your team and 80,000 angry Jets fans.

"I really don't know," Sparano said. "I'd have to say we're young enough right now that going on the road, they haven't quite figured out that its not supposed to happen like that out there on the road. But I think a lot of it has to do with our veteran leadership."

Miami has dropped just one of its last nine games, and that 48-28 loss to New England came within the familiar confines of Dolphin Stadium. The Dolphins lost to the Jets at home in their Sept. 7 season opener, but that game might have been more of a reflection of Miami's past than its present.

"I've been in Miami for the last four years," Dolphins defensive end Vonnie Holliday said. "For us, this is as big as it gets. Our playoff started a few weeks ago. Definitely, when you want to talk about playoffs, this is a 'win or go home' type atmosphere. That's the message that we have to relay to these guys around here. This is for it all."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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