(Ed. note: Normally, I’d wait until tomorrow to post this, but I want people going to the game to get a chance to read it before they head out.)
One of the more underplayed aspect of this game, I feel, is that this will be the Dolphins’ last visit to (and I hate saying the name of this place) Giants Stadium. There’s been bad, there’s been ugly, but there’s been a lot of good and a lot of memories that have largely made this rivalry what it is.
And it was also where, a decade later, Dan Marino and Mark Ingram hooked up on the classic “Clock Play,” Marino’s fake spike completing a comeback from 18 points down in the second half.
Yet it was also the place where Jets quarterback Ken O’Brien outdueled a young Marino in consecutive overtime shootouts in 1986 and ’87.
Of course, the most painful memory probably came in the so-called Monday Night Miracle. Up 30-7 in the fourth quarter in October 2000, Dave Wannstedt’s first year, the Dolphins managed a complete collapse that saw them fall 40-37 in overtime.
It was so bad that Jumbo Elliott, the great tackle, caught a game-tying touchdown pass at the end of regulation. Each Jets week for several years thereafter, Taylor would hang a Curtis Martin jersey in his locker as motivation.
“Really?” says Martin, No. 4 on the NFL’s career rushing list. “I never knew that.”
As for the “Miracle” game itself, Martin calls it “one of the most amazing displays of not dying, of perseverance.”
“I still see the clips where Jason Taylor was on the sideline going, ‘They’re not going to come back this time! Not this time!'” Martin says. “That was one of the greatest feelings, walking off that field.”
The Fake Spike. The Miracle. Chad’s Revenge. There’s just so many memories and so many moments that you just really had to witness, either on TV or in person, to understand how great this rivalry has become in that stadium. Personally, I was there for Marino’s fake spike, Chad’s game and The Miracle and each was special and unique for it’s own reasons. I remember at the end of the first half for The Miracle, knowing I had school the next day, and seeing the score, asking my dad if we could go home. He refused and I owe him more than he knows for that. It was such a special moment to witness when Jumbo caught the TD pass and every Jets fan looked up at the replay board to make sure he held on.
I got to see the Pats and Bills one last time in that place, but I’m genuinely upset I won’t get to see the Dolphins. As I was explaining to my girlfriend during the last Jets-Dolphins game on MNF, there’s just something special about this rivalry. It means more than any other divisional game, even during the Belichick era. It’s one of those things that transcends the players and the coaching staffs. Jets-Dolphins is one of the greatest rivalries of all time and it’s risen to that level thanks in part to the fans, culture, and weather of Giants Stadium. I’m truly sad that I won’t be there in person to say goodbye to it before the move to the new place. Everyone that’s going today, make sure you treasure the game, win or lose. It’s the last one of it’s kind.