For the first time in recent memory, the Dolphins are heading into this season with promise and excitement under the leadership of Adam Gase. With that being said, let’s take a look back at what are in my opinion the 10 best Dolphins games since the turn of the century:
10: October 31, 2013: Halloween Night vs Bengals (W 22-20 OT)
Thursday Night. At Home. On Halloween. The Dolphins would force 4 turnovers in this game as they beat Cincinnati 22-20 in OT due to a Cameron Wake sack of Andy Dalton in the endzone. The game also featured a Brent Grimes INT returned for a TD.
9. October 16, 2016: Victory vs Steelers (W 30-15)
Some would call this the Jay Ajayi coming out party. I call it the Adam Gase coming out party, with special guest Jay Ajayi. The Dolphins came into the game with a 1-4 record, so Steeler fans entered Hard Rock Stadium very confident. One Steeler fan in my section approached me before the game, shook my hand and apologized in advance for what his team was about to do to my Dolphins. The Steelers led 8–3 with less than 10 minutes played in the first quarter, but the Dolphins outscored the Steelers 27–7 the remainder of the game (outgaining the Steelers 474-297). Jay Ajayi sealed the win with a 62 yard TD on his way to a 204 yard game. The Dolphins improved to 2–4, and started a six-game winning streak. Dolphins fans watched the Steelers fans exit the stadium with their heads hiding behind those terrible towels.
8. December 15, 2013: Game Winning INT in Endzone vs Patriots (W 24-20)
It’s every NFL teams nightmare. You are up 4 points, with Tom Brady inside the redzone and only 7 seconds left in the game. This time though, the Dolphins came out on top with an unlikely hero, newly acquired free agent, Michael Thomas intercepting Brady with 2 seconds remaining. With the win, the Dolphins improved to 8–6 and climbed to the second Wild Card seat for the time being. I give most of the credit to the aqua endzones.
7. November 27, 2003: Thanksgiving Game vs Cowboys (W 40-21)
The first thing that actually comes to my mind when recalling this game were those awesome white on white throwback uniforms the team wore. This also happened to be the 10 year anniversary of the infamous Leon Lett game. Chris Chambers pulled down 3 TDs and Ricky Williams ran for over 100 yards. Jason Taylor also got in on the action returning a fumble 34 yards for a TD ensuring Dolphins fans across the nation could enjoy their Thanksgiving feasts with a W.
6. December 20, 2004: Monday Night vs Patriots (W 29-28)
In what was a very dark season for all Dolphins fans, there was one shiny moment. Our Dolphins, 2-11 at the time somehow found a way to upset the 12-1 defending Super Bowl champion Patriots on Monday Night Football. With 22 seconds remaining on 4th and 10 from the Patriots 21 yard line, A.J. Feeley threw a game-winning touchdown to something called Derrius Thompson.
5. September 21, 2008: WildCat Game vs Patriots (W 38-13)
Coming off a 1 win season in 2007, then starting the 2008 season 0-2, the Dolphins had to task of taking on the Patriots week 3. Even the biggest Dolphins fan couldn’t be confident going into this game. Then Ronnie Brown lined up at QB taking direct snaps and the rest is history. Brown ended up with 4 rushing TDs and even passed for a TD out of the new WildCat formation. The team would ride the wave of this game to the playoffs.
4. December 28, 2008: Playoff Clinching Game vs Jets (W 24-17)
Not many things are sweeter than beating the Jets. However, if you can beat them in the last game of the season to clinch an unexpected playoff berth, well yes, that would be the sweetest of all sweetness. The image of Phillip Merling intercepting a Brett Favre pass and stumbling his way into the endzone will forever be ingrained in my memory. Chad Pennington walking out the Jets Stadium a division champion was a fitting way to end the Jets season.
3. September 23, 2001: 9/11 Game vs Raiders (W 18-15)
Outside of this being a very memorable game due to the tragic events that led to it being postponed one week, it actually ended up being one hell of a football game as well. The images of the all the players holding American flags prior to the start of the game is just as memorable as Jay Fiedler laying across the goal line after his last second scramble to clinch the victory. Some say Fiedler took a hit and was concussed late in the 4th quarter, but chose to stay in the game, making his accomplishment of driving the team 80 yards with 1:41 on the clock and no timeouts even more impressive.
2. December 30, 2000: Wildcard Playoff Game vs Colts (W 23-17)
The only playoff win this century makes the list at #2. Jay Fiedler didn’t start off to hot, throwing three interceptions in the first half of the game as the Dolphins went into halftime trailing 14-0. The team would rely heavily on Lamar Smith in the 2nd half as they came back to tie the game with under 1 minute remaining in regulation. The Colts would miss a 49 yard FG with the 1st possession of OT, opening the door for the iconic 17 yard TD run by Lamar Smith to win the game. Smith rushed for 209 yards on 40 attempts (an NFL postseason record).
1. December 16, 2007: Greg Camarillo Game vs Ravens (W 22-16 OT)
Yes. This is not only the most meaningful victory for the team this century, I find it to be one of the most improbable and memorable as well. Fast forward to late in the 4th quarter with the Dolphins leading 16-13. The Ravens face a 4th & 1 on the Dolphins 1 yard line with 12 seconds remaining. Brian Billick decides to kick a FG instead of going for the easy win against a horrific run D. In overtime, the Dolphins nearly lost again as Matt Stover missed a potential game winning 44 yard FG. What happened next was magical. Cleo Lemon, Greg Camarillo, 64 yards, to the house. By this time, only the truest of Dolphin fans remained in the stadium. Me & probably 30,000 of my closest friends cheered like we had won the Super Bowl. I don’t recall leaving a Dolphins game happier then I left that game. This victory saved the Dolphins and their fans from the “un-perfect” season gave them a reason to be happy for 1 Sunday during a tragic season.
September 22, 2013: Home Opener vs Falcons (W 27-23)
November 2, 2014: Blowout/Shutout vs Chargers (W 37-0)
November 14, 2016: Last minute W over Chargers (W 31-24)
December 24, 2016: Thrilling OT victory vs Buffalo (W 34-31 OT)
Is there a game since 2000 that we have missed? Let me know your thoughts!