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Dolphins coach Sparano holds steady as scrutiny increases

Miami Dolphins coach Tony Sparano could sense a seemingly insurmountable lead slipping away Sunday, and after calling a timeout, he implored two officials to review a touchdown just scored by the Denver Broncos.

"If I don't call a timeout, I'm (sunk) and now I'm getting fired, OK?" Sparano screamed while pointing toward owner Stephen Ross' skybox.

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The desperation in Sparano's demeanor was understandable, but his plea for sympathy -- captured by a CBS camera -- went unheeded. The touchdown was upheld on review, accelerating the Broncos' astounding comeback for an 18-15 overtime victory.

Miami's collapse after being up 15-0 was epic in scale -- the first time since at least 1983 that a team had blown a lead of more than 14 points with three minutes to go, according to STATS LLC. The defeat left the Dolphins 0-6, which is why their coach is worried about his job security.

But sources told reporter Jeff Darlington on Monday afternoon that Sparano remains the coach of the Dolphins, and it appears the team has no plans to fire him this week.

Ross remains in Seattle on business related to his real-estate company, and his private jet has scheduled a flight plan to return home to New York later Monday, according to Darlington. With the Dolphins playing in East Rutherford, N.J., on Sunday, Ross isn't expected to return to South Florida this week. Given the unlikelihood that Ross would fire a coach over the phone, it's yet another reason Sparano could feel safe this week.

But a nine-game losing streak, the NFL's longest, has transformed Sparano into a virtual lame duck who seems certain to be fired at season's end, if not before. Ross courted Jim Harbaugh last January before sticking with Sparano, and there's speculation the owner will pursue another big name, such as Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden or Steve Fisher.

So how does Sparano stay upbeat?

"I talk to myself a lot," he said. "I figure if nobody usually answers back, that's a good thing. If somebody starts answering back, that's a bad thing."

The embattled coach mustered a smile. Winless with the clock running out, he'll try to grin and bear it.

"Coach is a great guy," Dolphins defensive end Jared Odrick said Monday. "I love him, and the rest of this team does. His will to win is as strong as anybody I've ever met, and it's hard on everybody when you don't win games you should."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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