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Classic Rewind: Jets Outlast Dolphins in MNF Classic

Posted on September 22, 2010 by A.J. Foss

At 1:22 a.m. on a Tuesday morning , Jets kicker John Hall brought an end to the longest game in Monday Night Football history as he made a 40-yard field goal to give the New York Jets a remarkable 40-37 overtime win over their arch rivals, the Miami Dolphins.

The fact that both teams were still playing at this late hour was amazing considering the fact that the Dolphins had pushed around the Jets for three quarters as they built a 30-7 lead causing fans in Giants Stadium began to leave the stands and viewers at home to turn off their TVs believing the game was over. Even Jets radio broadcaster Howard David proclaimed “And with a whole quarter to go, this game is over.”

But for those fans that left and those fans who went to bed, they missed a whale of a game in the fourth quarter.

Both teams entered the game with 5-1 records, with the winner moving into first place in the AFC East.

The Dolphins were in the first year of the post Dan Marino era, as former Dartmouth quarterback Jay Fielder as the new starting quarterback while the Jets were led by 14-year veteran quarterback Vinny Testaverde.

The Dolphins jumped all over the Jets as they scored 17 points on their first three possessions of the game.  

Miami drove to the Jets’ one-yard-line on their opening possession, but the Jets defense held and forced the Dolphins into a field goal which was made from 28 yards out by Orlando Mare to put Miami ahead 3-0.

The Dolphins would get into the end zone on their next two possessions as Fielder found Leslie Shepherd for a 42-yard touchdown to make it 10-0, which was followed by a 68-yard touchdown run by Lamar Smith that increased the lead to 17-0.

To go along with the 17 points and 207 yards of total offense the Jets’ defense allowed, the Jets offense had zero first downs and only seven yards of total offense on 11 plays.

Lamar Smith rushed for 155 yards and two touchdowns to help build the Dolphins early lead.

Things did not get much better for the Jets in the second quarter as Testaverde was intercepted by Sam Madison on the first play of the quarter which lead to a 42-yard field goal by Mare to make it 20-0 with 12:57 to play in the half.

The Jets seemed to finally get some momentum in the last two minutes of the half when Testaverde led the offense on a five play, 53-yard drive, culminating with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Wayne Cherbet that cut the lead to 20-7 with 53 seconds to play in the half.

But the Jets shot themselves in the foot when kicker John Hall kicked the ensuing kickoff out of bounds and giving Miami the ball at their own 40-yard-line.  Fielder lead the Dolphins to the Jets’ 27-yard-line to set up a 44-yard field goal by Mare that made it 23-7 in favor of Miami at halftime.

The score remained at 23-7 for almost the entire third quarter when the Jets were faced with a 4th-and-1 at their own 35-yard-line.  The Jets decided to gamble and go for the first down but Curtis Martin was stopped short of the first down and the Dolphins got the ball back in Jets territory with a chance to seemingly put the game away.

The Dolphins cashed it in was Smith scored on a 3-yard touchdown run that put Miami ahead 30-7 with 12 seconds left in the third quarter.

Following the Smith touchdown, the Jets went to a no-huddle offense and were able to drive to the Dolphins’ 30-yard-line when Testaverde threw a pass that seemed destined to be intercepted by Sam Madison.

But the ball bounced off Madison’s shoulder and into the hands of Laveranues Coles for a 30-yard touchdown to make it 30-13, but the Jets failed to convert the two-point conversion so they remained three scores behind with 13:39 in the fourth quarter.

After holding Miami to a three-and-out, the Jets got the ball back at their own 37-yard-line.  Again using a no-huddle offense, Testaverde led his team down the field in seven plays, ending the drive with a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jermaine Wiggins to cut the Dolphins’ lead to 30-20 with just over ten minutes to play in regulation.

The Dolphins appeared to tighten up as the Jets cut into their 23-point lead.

After the Wiggins touchdown, the Dolphins ran three straight plays up the middle and failing to get a first down, leading to another punt.

With their no-huddle offense in high gear, the Jets drove down the field for the straight time in the fourth quarter.

The Jets completed their 30-point fourth period and sent the game into overtime with a touchdown pass to offensive lineman Jumbo Elliott.

However, the drive stalled inside the Dolphins’ 20-yard-line, but now being down by ten points allowed the Jets to go for the field goal.  Hall came on and drilled a 34-yarder that made it 30-23 with 5:43 to go.

Hearing about the sudden turn of events on the radio, the Jets fans that left turned their cars around and drove back to Giants Stadium and back into the stands in hopes of seeing their team complete a historic comeback.

The Dolphins’ implosion continued on their next drive as a holding penalty negating a first down catch by Orlando Gadsden, which was followed by a sack of Fielder by linebacker Brian Cox on third-and-20, leading to a bad punt by, gaining only 33 yards and giving New York the ball at the Dolphins’ 39-yard-line and a chance to tie the game.

Three plays later, the Jets did tie the game as Testaverde hit a diving Cherbet in the end zone for a 24-yard touchdown that tied the game at 30-30.

Having scored 23 unanswered points, stymied the Dolphins’ offense, and having 3:55 left in regulation, the Jets had a chance to pull off an incredible victory.

But just as suddenly as the Jets tied the game, the Dolphins untied it.

Following the game-tying touchdown, Brock Marion returned the ensuing kickoff 47 yards to the Jets’ 46-yard-line and on the very next play, Fielder rolled to his right and threw a 46-yard touchdown pass to Shepherd that put Miami back up 37-30, just 22 seconds after the Jets had tied the game.

Once again, the Jets responded as Kevin Williams returned the ensuing kickoff 37 yards to the New York 43-yard-line, giving the offense great field position and propelling the Jets on another drive into Dolphin territory.

Jason Taylor just couldn't believe that the Dolphins had given this one away.

The Jets drove all the way to the Miami 4-yard-line where they faced a fourth-and-one. Make it and the comeback would continue, miss it and the game would be over.  Testaverde hit a short screen pass to fullback Richie Anderson for two yards, just enough for the first down.

Two plays later, this wild game got even wilder, when Testaverde faked a handoff to Martin and lofted a soft pass into the end zone for offensive tackle John “Jumbo” Elliott, who lined up as an eligible receiver on the play.

Elliott bobbled the ball three times before he secured the ball and came down with the catch for the game-tying touchdown with 42 seconds to go in regulation.

The New York Jets had made a complete turnaround in the fourth quarter as they outscored the Dolphins 30-7 and made 20 first downs in the quarter compared to the Dolphins’ one first down.

And Testaverde, who was 15 of 28 for 102 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions, completed 18 of 26 passes for 229 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in the fourth quarter alone.

The overtime coin toss was won by the Dolphins and elected to go on offense only have apparent disaster strike on the third play of the drive when Fielder was intercepted by cornerback Marco Coleman.

However as he was running with the ball, Coleman was hit by running back Thurman Thomas and the ball jarred loose, which was recovered by Gadsden at the Miami’ 34-yard-line.

But Coleman would get redemption as he made another interception five plays later and was ruled down at the Jets’ 34-yard-line.

Testaverde led the Jets on one last drive as New York drove 47 yards to set up a 40-yard field goal attempt by Hall, which he made to give the Jets the win and first place in the AFC East.

Despite the incredible comeback, the win did not propel the Jets into higher pastures as they dropped their next three games and finished the season 9-7 and out of the playoffs while

Miami recovered to finish the season 11-5 to win the AFC East division title.

Still, the incredible comeback is remembered fondly as it is the second greatest fourth quarter comeback in NFL history and was voted by fans to be the history of Monday Night Football.


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