THE LOSSES kept mounting, the tensions kept growing, and ultimately two NFL head coaches paid the price.

The Miami Dolphins' Tony Sparano and Kansas City Chiefs Todd Haley were both fired yesterday.

Todd Bowles, a former safety at Temple who has been the Dolphins assistant head coach and secondary coach, will take over on an interim basis.

Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel will serve as the Chiefs' interim coach for the rest of the season.

"I'd like to find a young Don Shula if that's possible," Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said when asked who would succeed Sparano.

It's no wonder Ross craves some stability. Since Shula retired in 1996, no coach has made it through five full seasons in Miami.

That includes Sparano, fired three games from the end of his fourth season, and 1 day after the Dolphins lost to the Eagles to fall to 4-9.

He departs with a record of 29-32.

The Chiefs (5-8) axed Haley 1 day after a 37-10 loss to the New York Jets. He was in his third season with the team.

"Timing in these situations is always difficult. There never seems to be a right time," Kansas City chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said.

Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli said Crennel will be considered for the permanent job.

Haley took over a team that won six games the previous two seasons under Herm Edwards, and he leaves with a 19-27 record in his first NFL head-coaching job.