MIAMI (AP) – When Randy McMichael strutted into end zone for the first touchdown of the new season, Jason Taylor jumped for joy and Gus Frerotte did a jig.

Nick Saban kept pacing the sideline with a stoic expression. For the new Miami Dolphins coach, one touchdown – and one victory – is merely a start.

Frerotte led a creative offense by throwing for 275 yards, Taylor returned a fumble 85 yards for a score and Miami successfully kicked off the Saban era by routing the Denver Broncos 34-10 Sunday.

The Broncos lost cornerback Champ Bailey and running back Mike Anderson to injuries, wilted in the 90-degree South Florida heat and dropped an opener for only the third time in 13 years under coach Mike Shanahan.

Denver’s all-time record in Miami fell to 0-7.

Frerotte, starting his first game for his sixth NFL team, went 24-for-36 with touchdown passes of 2 yards to McMichael and 60 yards to Marty Booker. Receiver Chris Chambers ran 61 yards on a reverse to set up a field goal, and the defense did the rest.

Taylor punctuated the victory on the final play by knocking the ball out of Jake Plummer’s grasp, scooping up the fumble and sprinting for a touchdown. It was his fifth fumble return for a score, tying the NFL record set by Jessie Tuggle.

The game was 20 minutes old before Plummer completed a pass on his seventh attempt, and the Broncos’ lone touchdown was set up by a fumbled punt. Miami mounted a goal-line stand in the second quarter to protect a 6-0 lead, stopping the Broncos five consecutive times after they had a first down at the 3.

It was a lot to cheer about for Miami fans who endured a 4-12 record in 2004, the Dolphins’ first losing year since 1988. The dismal season led to the hiring of Saban, and it took Miami little time to fulfill his pledge for a more imaginative offense.

On Miami’s second possession, Chambers took a handoff from Ronnie Brown on a reverse and dashed down the sideline, accompanied by a convoy of blockers including Frerotte. That set up 29-yard field goal by Olindo Mare to put Miami ahead to stay, 3-0.

The first touchdown came with a new wrinkle: Defensive end Taylor lined up as a tight end and took two defenders with him to clear out the flat for McMichael, who caught the scoring pass.

Rookie Brown gained 57 yards, and the Dolphins occasionally looked as self-destructive as last season. Five false-start penalties in the opening half prompted boos by the crowd, and twice Miami failed to convert a fourth-and-1.

But as often happens in early-season games in Miami, the visitors wilted in the sweltering weather. Denver cornerbacks Darrent Williams and Lenny Walls were both hampered by cramping in the second half, and the Dolphins scored touchdowns on three consecutive possessions in the second half.

Anderson, who missed all of last season with a groin injury, departed in the first quarter with a rib injury. Pro Bowl cornerback Bailey left in the third quarter with a sprained left shoulder.

On the goal-line stand, two carries by Tatum Bell went for no gain, stopped by Zach Thomas. After an offsides penalty on Miami, Plummer again threw incomplete. Bell was stopped for a 1-yard loss by Thomas and Taylor on fourth down.

AP-ES-09-11-05 1629EDT


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