No matter how bad the field, or at times the football, Mexican fans showed they love the NFL.
A crowd of 104,209, the third-largest in league history, turned out at this city’s massive soccer stadium Monday night to cheer on the Miami Dolphins, second favorite in Mexico only to the Dallas Cowboys.
Players slipped on the field all night and John Elway and Zach Thomas were knocked out of the exhibition game early with injuries. It hardly mattered to the singing, shouting crowd on a damp and unseasonably cold night as the Dolphins beat the Denver Broncos 38-19.
The fans chanted “Delfines” when their beloved Dolphins did well, and flashbulbs popped even for PATs. The Broncos had their share of supporters, but were booed all night, even when lining up for field goals. The crowd unleashed its loudest hoots and whistles when a Bronco took a knee in the end zone on the kickoff following the final touchdown.
The place went nuts when Dolphins rookie Brian Manning caught a pass from Craig Erickson at midfield and ran for a 66-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
Manning pleased the crowd in the second quarter when he extended at the goal line and pulled in an 18-yard pass from Dan Marino. Brandon Bennett’s 31-yard run with 3:13 left gave the Dolphins (1-1) a 31-19 lead and linebacker Anthony Harris returned an interception 53 yards for a touchdown with 1:33 left.
Elway helped sway the crowd a little toward the Broncos with some nice passes, but he left with a partially torn bicep in his throwing arm. He said he’ll have an MRI today, “and it could be really good or it could be really bad.”
The Dolphins, already hit hard by injuries, lost Thomas when he broke his left fibula on a kickoff return in the first quarter. Thomas hopes to be back by the season opener Aug. 31.