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As Parcells watches, Dolphins sink

When rookie quarterback John Beck came off the bench for Miami in the third quarter, he dropped the snap on his first play, and the ensuing scramble ended with the Cincinnati Bengals scoring on a 54-yard fumble return.

When rookie quarterback John Beck came off the bench for Miami in the third quarter, he dropped the snap on his first play, and the ensuing scramble ended with the Cincinnati Bengals scoring on a 54-yard fumble return.

From a press box suite, Bill Parcells saw the whole thing unfold and sat speechless, his expression blank and slightly dazed.

Watching the Dolphins tends to have that effect.

Four days into the Parcells era, the Dolphins remained wretched. They allowed 316 yards passing by Carson Palmer and staggered to the end of the worst season in franchise history yesterday, losing 38-25 to the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Dolphins became the eighth team to finish 1-15 and flopped in their audition for Parcells. He started work Thursday as executive vice president of football operations and watched the game with retired Green Bay Packers general manager Ron Wolf.

"You can't help but know Parcells is here, with the Jumbotron flashing up above, and you see Parcells and Ron Wolf sitting next to him," defensive tackle Vonnie Holliday said.

"Interesting. You know there's going to be some change. You know things are going to get moving in the right direction. It's just a matter of who's going to be a part of it."

The biggest question is whether coach Cam Cameron will return for a second year. He's expected to discuss his status with Parcells soon.

"We'll meet this week and see where it takes us," Cameron said.

General manager Randy Mueller's future is also uncertain. Parcells declined to talk to reporters.

Everyone agrees sweeping change is needed for a team that avoided the NFL's first 0-16 season thanks to an overtime win against Baltimore two weeks ago.

"I need a vacation," said receiver Marty Booker, dressing quickly at his locker. "When everything is this dismal, being frustrated every week, of course it takes a toll on you. I'm spent. It's over. All that's left now is to sit around and see what happens."

The Bengals' offseason also may be eventful. They finished 7-9, their first losing season since 2002, the year before Marvin Lewis took over as coach.

In other games:

* CARDINALS 48, RAMS 19: At Glendale, Ariz., Larry Fitzgerald caught 11 passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns, and Arizona finished an 8-8 season with a victory over St. Louis, the Cardinals' highest-scoring game in 30 years. The Rams (3-13), plagued by injuries most of the year, finished with a four-game losing streak after opening 0-8.

* PACKERS 34, LIONS 13: At Green Bay, Brett Favre (9-for-11, 99) extended his quarterback-record consecutive starts streak to 253 games, but didn't keep his helmet strapped on for very long. Favre led the Packers (13-3) to touchdowns on their first three possessions before handing the ball to backup Craig Nall in the second quarter. Jon Kitna (22-for-48, 246 yards) had a touchdown pass and two interceptions for Detroit (7-9).

* FALCONS 44, SEAHAWKS 41: At Atlanta, Chris Redman (17-for-27, 251 yards) set a career high with four touchdown passes, including two to Alge Crumpler, and the Falcons (4-12) rode three fourth-quarter touchdowns to a victory. Seattle (10-6), the NFC West champion, got touchdown runs from Shaun Alexander and Maurice Morris.

* TEXANS 42, JAGUARS 28: At Houston, Andre' Davis returned two kickoffs for touchdowns and the Texans beat Jacksonville (11-5), which rested many starters with their playoff spot secure. The victory gives the Texans (8-8) a .500 finish for the first time in their 6-year history.

* PANTHERS 31, BUCCANEERS 23: At Tampa, DeAngelo Williams (121 yards, 20 carries) rushed for two second-half touchdowns, lifting Carolina (7-9) past the Bucs (9-7), who rested many of their starters with their playoff spot locked up.

* RAVENS 27, STEELERS 21: At Baltimore, Musa Smith ran for 83 yards and a touchdown in his first NFL start, helping the Ravens (5-11) earn their first victory since Oct. 14 and end a nine-game losing streak. Pittsburgh (10-6) already clinched the AFC North title and rested most of its starters.

* JETS 13, CHIEFS 10 (OT): At East Rutherford, N.J., Mike Nugent kicked a 43-yard field goal, after having a 33-yarder negated by a penalty, 5:13 into overtime, giving the New York Jets (4-12) a win over Kansas City (4-12).


* Marv Levy is preparing to step down as Buffalo Bills general manager, according to numerous reports.

Citing "multiple" unnamed sources, Buffalo's WIVB-TV reported the Bills and Levy, 82, reached "a mutual decision" that he would retire after concluding his second year on the job. The station reported an announcement could come as early as this week. also cited sources in reporting the decision was reached after the Hall of Fame coach met this week with Bills owner Ralph Wilson.

* NFL fans took advantage of the opportunity to see Saturday night's historic game. An average of 34.5 million viewers watched the New England Patriots become the first team to go 16-0 in the regular season, the largest audience for an NFL nonplayoff game in more than 12 years. *