Top Five Greatest Games in the Miami Dolphins Rivalry with the New York Jets
The Miami Dolphins and New York Jets have been bitter rivals for decades. Their first matchup was on September 9, 1966 which the Jets won 19-14. Their most recent matchup was December 29, 2013 which the Jets also won 20-7.
The Jets lead the series by a count of 50-46-1. Six of their games went into overtime and only once have they met in the playoffs.
It is no secret throughout the league that these two teams have a deep disdain for one another. Who could forget Jason Taylor's comments about Jets fans before the Dolphins hosted the Jets in 2005?:
Jets fans don't have a whole lot else going for them, and they rely on the Jets beating the Dolphins. I wouldn't want to live in New York in November or December either, so they come down here and fill up our stadium. They sit there and yell their J-E-T-S chant. That's the only word they know how to spell. (via Kevin Lerner, South Florida Sun Sentinel)
Some of the most must-see moments in NFL history have occurred during this nearly 50-year-old rivalry. There are a handful of games that stand out to me as some of the greatest ever played between these long time rivals.
Some went in favor of the Dolphins and some went to the Jets, but each was memorable and a lot of fun to watch.
Honorable Mention: Chad Pennington Beats the Jets, Miami Wins the AFC East
The 2008 season for the Miami Dolphins was one that many fans will remember for years to come. The bar was set pretty low for the Dolphins after they finished the 2007 season with an embarrassing 1-15 record. The organization was at an all-time low and major changes were on the horizon.
Bill Parcells became the Dolphins vice president of football operations following the 2007 season. He brought with him new coach Tony Sparano and former Jets quarterback Chad Pennington. Pennington had been let go by the Jets after a series of injuries in favor of Brett Favre.
Pennington would go on to win NFL Comeback Player of the Year and lead the Dolphins to an 11-5 record and the AFC East championship. The finale against the Jets was like something from a movie script.
Pennington and the Dolphins traveled to East Rutherford with a 10-5 record to battle their divisional rival, the 9-6 Jets. The scenario was simple: The Dolphins win the game and they are in the playoffs, lose and they are going home.
Pennington would complete 73 percent of his passes for 200 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers. The man who replaced him in New York, Favre, would complete just 50 percent of his passes and throw three interceptions.
The Dolphins would snap a five-game losing streak to the Jets and make the playoffs for the first time since 2000 with a 24-17 victory. Pennington downplayed the victory over his former team to the Associated Press (via ESPN):
It's not a revenge factor. This week, being the 17th week, it was strictly focused on winning the championship, knowing that we controlled our own destiny. It just so happened that it had to come through New York. That's the only way fate would have it.
The Dolphins had completed the greatest turnaround in franchise history. Unfortunately, they haven't returned to the playoffs since.
Stats courtesy of ESPN.com
5. Monday Night Football, Fourth Quarter Shootout
On October 12, 2009 the Dolphins and Jets played one of the most memorable Monday Night Football games of the post-Marino era. This game saw 35 total points scored in the final quarter as well as five lead changes in the last 15 minutes.
Chad Henne would play arguably his best game as a Dolphin. Henne completed 20 of his 26 passes for 241 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. The longest play of the game came when Ted Ginn Jr. beat Darrelle Revis down the field and hauled in a huge 53-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter (see video above).
The star of the game was Ronnie Brown. Brown managed the Wildcat offense incredibly, totaling 74 yards and two touchdowns off of 21 carries. No run was bigger than Brown's two yard keeper with 10 seconds remaining. Brown took the snap out of the Wildcat and plowed ahead to give Miami the lead for good.
An incredible fourth quarter capped off an incredible game that the Dolphins won 31-27.
Stats courtesy of ESPN.com
4. 1986: Jets Overtime Victory
On September 21, 1986 the Dolphins traveled to the Meadowlands for a battle with the Jets that Miami fans would like to forget. The two rivals would combine for 96 points, over 1,000 yards and seven turnovers. The game was a highly contested battle with one of the most memorable finishes the rivalry has seen.
Dan Marino and Jets quarterback Ken O'Brien would combine for 884 passing yards as both teams opted for a pass-heavy attack. Marino would complete 30 of 50 passes for 448 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions. O'Brien would top Marino by completing 29 of 43 passes for 479 yards, four touchdowns and one interception.
After trailing by 10 at halftime, Miami would score 17 unanswered points in the third quarter. The highlight of the third was a 46-yard touchdown pass from Marino to Mark Duper.
Miami held a 45-38 advantage with 1:08 left to play. O'Brien would lead the Jets down the field before hitting Wesley Walker with five seconds left to tie the game at 45. The Jets won the coin toss and took the ball to start the overtime.
O'Brien hit Walker again on the first possession of overtime. A 43-yard touchdown pass to Walker would sink the Dolphins with Marino stuck on the sideline.
A game that saw record setting performances from two quarterbacks fittingly ended with a long pass. The Jets completed the comeback with a 51-45 victory in overtime.
3. 1982 AFC Championship Game
The 1982 AFC Championship was the first and only meeting between the Dolphins and Jets to take place during the playoffs. The intensity was through the roof as the two bitter divisional rivals battled for a trip to Super Bowl XVII.
The game may be most memorable for the awful field conditions. South Florida had been pelted with rain storms in the days leading up to the game. The result was the Orange Bowl field resembling a 100 yard mud puddle.
The game was somewhat controversial because Jets officials complained about the Dolphins decision to not tarp the field in the days before the game.
Field conditions did not do Jets quarterback Richard Todd any favors. The Jets quarterback completed just 15 of 37 pass attempts for 103 yards and five interceptions. Miami linebacker A.J. Duhe accounted for three of those interceptions.
Duhe's 35-yard interception return for a touchdown would seal the victory for the Dolphins. The Dolphins shutout their rival 14-0 to earn a trip to Super Bowl XVII. A rivalry game with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line was assured of a spot on this list.
2. Monday Night Miracle
The "Monday Night Miracle" took place on October 23, 2000 at Giants Stadium. The undefeated Dolphins battled the one loss Jets on Monday Night Football for control of the AFC East.
Jay Fiedler and the Dolphins would dominate the Jets for three quarters and enter the fourth quarter with a 30-7 lead. Giants Stadium was beginning to empty and Dolphins players were celebrating on the sidelines.
The celebration proved to be premature.
Vinny Testaverde would lead the Jets to 30 fourth quarter points. Testaverde threw four touchdown passes in the fourth quarter and John Hall added a field goal. Fiedler would hit Leslie Shepherd for a 46-yard touchdown but the flood gates had been opened.
Despite the collapse, the Dolphins had a chance to escape with the win by stopping the Jets on a 4th-and-1 from the 4-yard line. It wasn't meant to be. Testaverde hit Jumbo Elliott for the game-tying touchdown. What once looked like an easy win for the Dolphins was now heading to overtime tied at 37.
In the overtime period, Hall would connect on a 40-yard field goal to give the Jets a 40-37 victory. The game is still considered by many to be the greatest comeback in NFL history.
1. The Fake Spike
Dan Marino delivered one of the most memorable moments of his career during Week 13 of the 1994 season. The Dolphins and Jets battled in the Meadowlands with first place in the division on the line.
The Jets controlled most of the game and Miami committed four turnovers to help the Jets build a 24-6 lead.
During the second half, Jets quarterback Boomer Esiason threw two interceptions which left the door open for Marino and the Dolphins. The Dolphins took advantage in a big way, scoring 22 unanswered points to end the game.
The Dolphins had cut the Jets lead to three and then one of the most memorable drives in Dolphins history occurred. You can see the entire drive in the attached video.
The Jets gave the ball back to Marino with 2:33 left to play. Marino would methodically lead the Dolphins down to the 5-yard line before the now famous play unfolded.
Marino motioned that he was going to spike the ball. He then took the snap and rifled one to Mark Ingram for the go-ahead touchdown. It was Ingram's third straight reception on the drive and fourth touchdown catch of the game.
With 22 seconds remaining the score was 28-24 in favor of the Dolphins, and it would stay that way.
Miami would defeat the Jets and take control of the AFC East behind one of the defining moments of Marino's career.
All stats courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.