As a Dolphins fan, there are many reasons to dislike the Jets. They play in the same division and conference. The Jets always seem to give the Dolphins trouble regardless of both teams’ records. One game that comes to mind for most people is the Monday Night Miracle. The Jets scored 30 points in the 4th quarter to beat the Phins 40-37. For myself, I have a whole different reason to dislike the Jets.
As a 10 years old boy, I woke up on Christmas Day in 1999 with presents under the tree and stockings full of gifts. After unwrapping all my gifts and about to head to my grandparents’ house, my dad had one final gift for me. He tossed me a box on top of my new Dan Marino jersey. It was a gift of a life time, two tickets to the Miami Dolphins game on December 27, 1999 VS the New York Jets. The next day, we were on a flight to Miami!
My dad and I used to travel to Foxboro and see the Phins against New England each year because we lived only 90 minutes away. The pre-Tom Brady era was great, it seems like a lifetime ago. When we got to Miami, we went into our hotel that overlooked Pro Player Stadium. We ended up walking the stadium for hours in awe anticipating Game day.
The Dolphins desperately needed a win that day to keep their playoff hopes alive. They started their 99’ season at 7-1. They lost 4 of 5 games going into that game. Then the wheels came off, our Icon Dan Marino started to show his age. The out patterns didn’t have the same zip anymore. His mind was still sharp, but his arm didn’t have the same strength that it used to.
It was the last NFL game of the millennium. The stadium was literally rocking when Marino came out. It’s one of those memories I will never forget being a kid and being with my Dad. Also, the talk around the league and in the newspapers was it would be Marino’s last home game as a Dolphin. Both were true. It was his last home game.
I remember the game like it was yesterday. Jimmy Johnson led the Dolphins to a loss against Bill Parcells and the Jets 38-31. Marino tossed 3 touchdowns and it still wasn’t enough. They couldn’t stop them. A lot of fans ended up leaving. We stayed in the stadium to the very end. I remember watching Jets fanatic fan, Fireman Ed, lead the crowd chant J-E-T-S Jets, Jets , Jets!!! Yes, Fireman Ed was there almost 20 years ago.
The rest is history; Marino never played another snap in Miami. The following week they lost to Washington and limped into the playoffs. They beat Seattle in the wildcard game, and then got mauled in Jacksonville 62-7 the following week. Then it was over, an embarrassing loss. No walking off in the sunset for Dan the man. The season and his career was sadly over. When he retired, we got blessed with the likes of Jay Fiedler, Brian Greise, Joey Harrington, AJ Feeley, Culpepper, and the list goes on. Ever since that last home game, I feel the franchise has been in a state of mediocrity. The once proud franchise has not won a playoff game in nearly 20 years.
Sunday against the Jets is going to be a tough task. On Monday night, Sam Darnold and the Jets rolled over the Detroit Lions 48-17. I’m not sure if the Jets are that good, or Detroit is that bad. The key for the Dolphins in this week’s game is simple, control the line of scrimmage. It just got more difficult with Pro Bowler, Josh Sitton out for the season with a torn rotator cuff. That’s a big loss with the Jets having a very talented defensive line starting with Leonard Williams. If the Dolphins can get the run game going and keep the Jets off balance, it’s a recipe for success. When the Dolphins become one dimensional and pass happy, they’re not successful. If Ryan Tannehill throws less than 30 passes, the Dolphins are 17 wins and 7 losses. We need to get Kenyan Drake and Frank Gore rolling early to set up the play action pass. I expect a close game as these two teams are very similar on both sides of the ball. Don’t beat yourself and be more physical than the other team
So, this Sunday against the Jets, it’s personal to me. The thought of facing the Jets makes my stomach turn. They may have found their franchise man in Sam Darnold, but I hope he turns into Mark Sanchez. As long as the Dolphins have been searching for a franchise quarterback, the Jets have waited even longer. This week’s game doesn’t seem significant, but one team will come out 2-0. Maybe I can finally turn the page and get over that loss in 1999. I highly doubt it.