We've been doing a lot of looking ahead already. Really, the minute Miami's season ended, a lot of us turned our attention to the upcoming offseason. And it's understandable - the offseason is a time filled with hope and makes for some good debate.
But we are coming off of one of the most memorable Dolphin seasons in history. And I think it's time we stop and take a look back at 2008 - the amazing season that it was. That's why I present, for your approval, the top 5 memories of the 2008 regular season.
#5: Week 16 - Dolphins at Chiefs
It was the coldest game in Dolphins' history. The windchill made it feel like it was -12 in KC that day. But the offenses for both teams didn't seem affected that day. And entering the 4th quarter, the game was tied at 31 - with Miami's playoff hopes clinging to life.
With 12:41 to go, the Dolphins took possession at their own 15 yard line. And 12 plays later, the Dolphins faced a 3rd & 4 from KC's 14 yard line with under 5 minutes to play. Chad Pennington came to the line and recognized that KC was blitzing. He took the snap and quickly threw to Anthony Fasano, who was open just a few yards beyond the line of scrimmage thanks to the blitz. But because of the pressure, Pennington's pass was behind Anthony. However, Fasano made a ridiculous catch, reaching back behind his body. He then carried 2 Chief defenders into the endzone for what would be the game's winning touchdown.
#4: Week 5 - Dolphins vs Chargers
In a game in which nobody thought the Dolphins had a chance, it was Miami with the 17-3 halftime lead. But a Chris Chambers TD cut the lead to 17-10 in the 3rd quarter. Then on the ensuing kickoff, Davone Bess fumbled the ball and SD recovered, taking over at Miami's 25 yard line. And five plays later, the Chargers found themselves in a 4th and goal from the 1 yard line.
It was a curious call - considering it was just the first play of the 4th quarter. And it seemed like one of those times where an opposing team just thought they could walk over this Dolphins team. After all, SD only had to go one yard and have the game's top RB in LaDainian Tomlinson and have a solid left side of the line consisting of Kris Dielman and Marcus McNeill. And that's who SD ran behind on this 4th and goal from the 1. Only problem for SD was that Vonnie Holliday, Channing Crowder, and Yeremiah Bell (among others) were up to the challenge. They stuffed Tomlinson on the critical 4th down run and, as it turned out, saved the game for the Dolphins.
#3: Week 9 - Dolphins at Broncos
I think this memory is so high in my rankings because there was a lot of stuff said between our blog and the Broncos' blog in the days leading up to the game. Bronco fans seemed overly confident and arrogant. So seeing the Dolphins go up to Mile High (or whatever the stadium is called now) and knock off the Broncos was a thing of beauty.
And nothing stands out more from that game than that final, clock-filling TD drive by the Dolphins. The Broncos had just cut the deficit to two points when the Dolphins got the ball with 11:10 to go. Then, 10 plays into the drive, the Dolphins faced a 3rd & 19. That's when Dan Henning called a simple screen pass to Ronnie Brown. And it was perfectly executed - with Brown weaving his way just one yard short of the 1st down. On the next play, though, Tony Sparano showed the kind of "marbles" he has by going for thre 4th & 1 with a little Lousaka up the middle. Polite picked up the needed yard. A few plays later, Ronnie Brown scored the game-sealing TD with just over 3 minutes to go. A terrific end to a simply classic drive.
#2: Week 3 - Dolphins at Patriots
Is there anything better than seeing Patriot fans abandon their stadium with over 14 minutes to go in a game? What a thing of beauty to behold!
This was the day - as we all remember - in which the Dolphins broke out their 'Wildcat' formation, taking the NFL by storm. Ronnie Brown had a record-setting day, rushing for 4 touchdowns and throwing for another. And for all the memorable plays in this game, none stand out more than Ronnie's 62 yard TD run on the first play of the 4th quarter out of the 'Wildcat" - sealing the game and sending those fair-weather Patriot fans to the exits.
And if not for a remarkable ending to the regular season, this would be 2008's #1 memory.
#1: Week 17 - Dolphins at Jets
Late December at the Meadowlands. Dolphins vs Jets. A win clinches the AFC East for the Dolphins. A loss sends them home. And at the center of it all, Chad Pennington seeking redemption against his former team - the team that threw him out like yesterday's garbage once they acquired the over-hyped and over-the-hill Brett Favre.
So many memories from this game - it's impossible to highlight one. Ted Ginn's terrific TD catch. Phillip Merling's interception of a Brett Favre screen pass, returning it for the touchdown. Anthony Fasano's improbable TD catch that took back the lead after falling behind 17-14. But my favorite memory of all, other than seeing the Dolphins celebrate their division title on the field of Giants Stadium, was watching Brett Favre make another terrible throw and having Andre Goodman intercept Favre for the 2nd time, leading to the following scene:
Yes, 2008 was a great season. And here's to an even better 2009!!
Oh - and might I add....
MIAMI DOLPHINS: 2008 AFC EAST CHAMPIONS!!!