Miami Dolphins: The 50 Most Significant Plays in Team History, Part III

Robert HoffmanCorrespondent IJuly 1, 2010

Time to revisit the most significant plays in Miami Dolphins history.  This article brings the series to more than half complete. 

Just so you can keep track, here is part I of the 50 Most Significant Plays in Team History: 

And here is part II:

As you might imagine by this point, there are still some very memorable and significant plays yet to be discussed and there are some plays that may have slipped under the radar.

1994 Marino's Fake Spike

Oh, I love the trick plays, especially the ones that come in key moments of a game.  Trailing New York 24-21 with about 30 seconds left in the game, and the ball at the Jets' eight (8), much of the crowd and those watching on television knew what was to come. 

Miami would stop the clock for perhaps one more shot into the endzone or more likely a field goal attempt to send the game into overtime. 

However, head coach Don Shula and back-up quarterback Bernie Kosar had other ideas. Kosar relayed into Dan Marino's headset to hurry the team to the line of scrimmage as if wanting to stop the clock.  

The best quarterback in Dolphin's history did just that as he yelled Clock! Clock! Clock! As the ball was snapped, Marino simulated a spike and then fired the ball to Mark Ingram in the right front corner of the endzone. 

Ingram's fourth touchdown catch of the game matches Paul Warfield's single-game TD record which he accomplished against Detroit in 1973. The bit of chicanery instantly became one of the most memorable plays in the team's history.

The 28-24 victory sent the teams into two different directions. The Dolphins finished the season 10-6 to win the AFC East by virtue of a tie-breaker over New England.

The Jets fired coach Pete Carroll after the season and compiled a 4-32 record after "The Clock" loss until hiring Bill Parcells three seasons later.

1967 John Stofa Scores and Breaks Ankle

Shortly after scoring a touchdown, less than five minutes into the game, Stofa went down by the goal line and is carried off the field on stretcher with a broken ankle.

The touchdown itself carries little or no significance.  However, the resulting injury puts a young quarterback from Purdue into the lineup.  That quarterback was Bob Griese and the future Hall of Famer never looked back.

1990 Kelly to Reed in the Snow

There is rarely a worse moment for a fan then when you know that no matter what your team does it's just not enough. 

In the 1990 Divisional Playoff, that's exactly the feeling that Miami fans endured during their team's 44-34 loss to the Buffalo Bills.  The two teams combined for 78 points, 48 first downs and 923 yards.  

The problem is that for all of the Dolphins success on offense, Buffalo had more than enough of an answer.

No play illustrated this more than a 26-yard scoring strike from Jim Kelly to Andre Reed. Coming on the play after Buffalo kicker Scott Norward recovered Marc Logan's fumble of his kickoff, a wide open Reed hauled in the pass from Kelly and cruised away in the snow. It's an image that has stayed with many fans every since. 

It also ended Miami's season and marks perhaps one of the worst defensive efforts in Dolphin history.

1972 Doug's "Swift" Pick

It's often forgotten that before Miami's victory against Pittsburgh in the 1972 AFC Championship Game there was another close call in the previous playoff round.

On Christmas Eve, Miami actually trailed the Cleveland Browns 14-13 with 8:11 to go in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Earl Morrall responded by leading the Dolphins on a six-play, 80 yard drive that end with Jim Kiick scoring on an eight-yard trap.

However, the game was sealed only when Doug Swift picked off Cleveland quarterback Mike Phipps at the Dolphin 20. It was Swift's second pick of the game and Miami's fifth overall. Without the pilfering of Phipps passes, Miam's perfect season doesn't happen.

2002 Brock Marion Intercepts Pennington

While it wasn't crucial to the outcome, Brock Marion's interception of Chad Pennington on the last play of the game put a stamp on Miami's 30-3 rout of the Jets. The significance is that the win put an end to an eight-game losing streak to its arch-rival. 

1982 The Snow Plow

The fact that most Dolphin fans don't even need more of an explanation than "the snow plow game" suggests the significance of this moment. 

For those who are not historians, the two teams remained scoreless late into the fourth quarter due primarily to a driving snowstorm.

With 4:45 left to go in the game and on-field conditions worsening, Patriots coach Ron Meyer sent snow plow operator Mark Henderson to clear a spot on the field. Miami coach Don Shula protested vehemently, but New England's John Smith nailed the game-winning kick.

Henderson was a convict on a work release program at the time of the game, yet still managed to receive a game-ball from Meyer for his contribution.

Dolphin fans will argue that this play is significant as the first time, but hardly the last, that the New England Patriots got creative with the rules of the game.

2009 Chad Henne Arrives with Pass to Camarillo

Trailing the Jets 27-24, and facing a third and 10 from the New York 16-yard line, quarterback Chad Henne rolls to his right and throws a strike to wide receiver Greg Camarillo at the four-yard line. 

Three plays later, running back Ronnie Brown bulls in from the two for a game-winning score. Without Henne's perfect under pressure pass, Miami trots the field-goal unit onto the field for a game-tying attempt. 

Instead, Jets' coach Rex Ryan is left with the notable quote, "We made that quarterback look like Dan Marino." The game marks Henne's clear arrival as Miami's starting quarterback. The play will become even more significant if Henne comes anywhere close to "old number 13" in the future. 

1971 Lilly Chases Griese Down

Miami lost their first Superbowl appearance because they couldn't stop the Dallas Cowboy running attack or generate much offense of their own.

But, the one play that was symbolic of Miami not being quite ready to claim the world championship occured when Griese saw Dallas' defensive tackle Bob Lilly and started to run to his right.  Defensive end Larry Cole blocked Griese's path on the other side and and the quarterback was chased further and further backwards until Lilly finally caught him for a 29-yard loss. 

1978 Earl Campbell Dives In

Held to just 16 yards on 13 carries in the first half, Campbell, the NFL's leading rusher that season as a rookie (1,450 yards), scores on a one-yard dive with 1:55 left in the game to clinch a 17-9 AFC Wild-Card playoff victory for the Oilers. Campbell rushed 68 yards on 13 carries in the second half. 

The loss ends Miami's first playoff trip since 1974 and is arguably the beginning of the end for Griese who played with sore ribs. The "thinking man's quarterback" would battle through numerous injuries during his next two years leading to his retirement in 1980.

1973 Miami gets its First Super Bowl Touchdown

How fitting to have an original member of your franchise score your first Super Bowl touchdown. That's exactly what wide receiver Howard Twilley did when he got by Redskin cornerback Pat Fischer to grab a 28-yard touchdown pass from Griese. 

Twilley was selected in the 12th round of the 1966 draft and yet was one of the key components to Miami's success in the early 1970's. After his landmark score, the Dolphins weren't seriously threatened in the franchise's first Super Bowl win. 


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