South Beach streak

As far as Dom Capers is concerned, this is a case that doesn't require Crockett and Tubbs.

If drug smuggling off the Florida coast was the issue, perhaps the Miami Vice characters could be called in. But when the case of the Dolphins' remarkable season-opening winning streak is mentioned, most gridiron detectives have an idea what's behind it.

Miami's season openers

1992: @CLE, W 27-23

1993: @IND, W 24-20

1994: NE, W 39-35

1995: NYJ, W 52-14

1996: NE, W 24-10

1997: IND, W 16-10

1998: @IND, 24-15

1999: @DEN, 38-21

2000: SEA, W 23-0

2001: @TEN, W 31-23

2002: DET, W 49-21

"It's no secret why Miami has had this opening day record and September record for so long," Capers said Wednesday. "On top of being a good football team, their opponents have to learn to deal with the conditions once they go in there. And if they're not prepared, then it becomes extremely difficult to have a chance to win the football game."

Miami hasn't lost a season opener since 1991, a stretch of 11 consecutive victories to kick off a season. The Texans are the latest team to attempt to squelch that streak.

"It's a tough place to play anytime much less the first game," said Texans center Steve McKinney, who saw his share of Pro Player Stadium in his four seasons with the Colts. "They've had a lot of success in home openers and we're aware of that."

Six of those 11 wins have come in Miami, where the Dolphins can don their home whites and use the South Florida heat to their advantage. The average margin of victory in those six home triumphs is nearly 19 points. And, if you're inclined to stretch the stats over the month of September, the Dolphins own an 18-2 home mark over those 11 years.

That's why the Texans practiced outside Wednesday.

"These are the type of conditions we're going to have to deal with on Sunday," Capers said. "This gives them an idea of what we're going to be up against."

But the Texans know that, while the heat is a big factor, it's not the only factor. The Dolphins have a history of fast starts over the past decade. Also included in that streak are impressive prime-time wins at Denver (1999) and Tennessee (2001). Miami has always had a fast, aggressive defense that's at its freshest early on. And now with running back Ricky Williams in the backfield, they also have the ability to control the ball and wear the opposition down.

         <span>"</span>Obviously
         we know we have a tough challenge to try to dethrone them but I
         think we're going to have a shot," McKinney said.
         "We're going to go out there ready to play them, that's for
         sure."
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