In honour of the Jets and Dolphins playing each other this weekend, I’m going to look back at two of their most famous wins over each other. For the Jets, it’s the ‘Monday Night Miracle’, a week 7 matchup in 2000 that, along with the Yankees-Mets World Series, made up quite the week for sports fans in New York. For the Dolphins it’ll be the ‘Fake Spike Game’ a week 13 matchup in 1994, which came to be one of Dan Marino’s most famous games for Miami.
Let’s start with this magical Marino game
It was November 27th 1994. The Dolphins entered Giants Stadium at 7-4 to play the 6-5 New York Jets with both teams looking to heat up their playoff chances in a particularly competitive AFC East. This game was a must-win for Miami, who had lost their previous two games to Chicago and Pittsburgh. They needed to prove to the rest of the league that they had title aspirations and weren’t going to freeze over before the playoffs. They always had a fighting chance with Dan Marino as their quarterback. He was in his 11th season in the league. He’d won NFL MVP, had been to the Super Bowl and was on his way to the Hall of Fame. This game would add to his legacy.
The Jets, led by Head Coach Pete Carroll, raced out to a 24-6 third Quarter lead on the arm of quarterback Boomer Esiason. All the Jets fans were thinking that this game was over, that they were starting a run towards the playoffs. However, if it wasn’t.
Marino took the game over it was wide receiver Mark Ingram. Ingram would have his career day, hauling in 9 catches from 10 targets for 117 yards and a staggering 4 touchdowns. To put that into perspective, he scored 6 touchdowns all season with 4 coming into the game! The Marino to Ingram connection was hotter than a chilli dipped in lava.
With Marino throwing dimes to Ingram all the way from the third quarter into the fourth, the Jets lead had evaporated from 24-6 to 24-21. Marino got the ball with 4:51 left and having to drive 84 yards for a game-winning touchdown. I think both sets of fans knew what was going to happen and with 5 passes for 65 yards, Marino was at the Jets 19 yard line with 44 seconds to go.
He hit Ingram for 11 yards on a hitch route against rookie cornerback Aaron Glenn. With the clock running, Marino raced his team up to the spot at New York’s 9-yard line. As time ran past 35 seconds, Marino famously shouted “CLOCK, CLOCK, CLOCK”, lulling the Jets into a false sense of security. He deftly faked throwing the ball into the ground while looking up and hitting Ingram in his stride for his 4th touchdown of the game.
The boos and groans of the Jets fans filled the stadium as Marino and his players jumped around in celebration taking the 28-24 win. The Jets players were frozen as they realised how hard they’d been baited, and in the end they were frozen in NFL history.
After this game, the Jets were physiologically damaged losing 6 of their last 7 games and finishing the season with a 6-10 record leading to the offiring Pete Caroll. Rich Kotite was hired to replace Caroll but, with 4 wins in the next two seasons, the Jets learned the hard way that Kotite trying to coach was about as successful as a bag of cement trying to float.
Monday Night thriller
Six years later, the Jets would get their revenge on Monday Night Football. Both teams entered the nationally televised contest at 5-1, looking to show off their credentials to the rest of the NFL as Super Bowl contenders. With the game being sandwiched between games 2 and 3 of an all New York World Series, not many people initially tuned in to watch this game. By the end of the game I bet a heck of a lot more people would’ve wished they’d have watched it all unfold from the start.
The game began with Miami blowing the Jets away in an electric first quarter gaining a 17-0 lead. The Jets looked like they had been up watching the baseball instead of training for this game. Lamar Smith, Miami’s running back, was scything through them like a hot knife through butter, especially on his 68-yard touchdown run. The halftime two-minute warning had already been called before the Jets got on the board, with a Testaverde touchdown throw to Jets fan favourite Wayne Chrebet. But, with a field goal to end the half the Dolphins took a 23-7 lead into the second half.
While disinterested fans traded baseball chants, the teams traded punts for almost all of the third quarter. The Dolphins extended their lead when Smith rushed for his second touchdown of the game to give the Dolphins a 30-7 lead.
It was then when Jets Broadcaster Howard David uttered the famous phrase of apparent resignation, “And with a whole quarter to go, this game over.” I think many Jets fans took his words to heart as a lot of them left the stadium. However, Testaverde and the Jets turned it on in the fourth quarter, scoring 23 unanswered points to tie the game 30-30 with 4 minutes left.
It was magical. Everything Testaverde threw seemed to be caught and scored. Jets fans, who were still there were going crazy. The ones who’d left were now trying to turn around in their cars to get back into the stadium. The Dolphins looked to be asleep for almost the entire quarter until Jay Fiedler threw a 46-yard bomb to Leslie Shepard with under four minutes to play to take the lead again. Miami 37-30 ahead.
Miami fans were rejuvenated thinking they were going to limp to a win in New York. In the last 3:22 of the game, New York, with the rising sound of its returning fans, marched down the field to a game-tying touchdown from Testaverde to tackle Jumbo Elliot.
Jets fans were in hysteria as the game went it into overtime. By then it was written on the wall for Miami fans, who watched their team make just one first down compared to 19 for the Jets in the fourth quarter.
New York sealed the second largest fourth-quarter comeback in NFL history and the largest comeback in Jets History with a 40-yard John Hall field goal to win one of the craziest games ever.
Contribution from Alex Riley who is a 49ers fan and has followed the game since 2010. Currently at the University of Leicester, you can follow him on Twitter @NFLRiley and his blog http://www.rileynfl.wordpress.com