In late December of 2008 the Dolphins traveled to New York to take on the Jets for the final game of the 08' season and to battle for the AFC East title, winner take all. To add to the intrigue of the game was the fact that long time Jets starter Chad Pennington was returning to New York for the first time since being cut in favor of former Packer Brett Favre. Miami of course immediately signed Pennington after he was cut. Up to this point in the season Chad had been a big part of turning around a Miami team that had only won a single game in the previous season.
The game started out slow with neither team scoring any points in the first quarter after each team stalled or in the Jets case ended when Farve was intercepted by Andre' Goodman to end the Jets second possession. The quarter ending with the Jets in possession of the ball, first and 10 on their own 17 yard line. After drives once again stalled for each team to start the second quarter the Jets managed to drive down the field and score the first points of the game on a 13 yard pass from Favre to Laveranues Coles. The Jets mishandled the snap on the extra point and wound up aborting the kick leaving the score 6 to 0 in the Jets favor.
Following a 3 and out by each team Miami got the ball back with first and 10 on their own 40 and 4:30 to go. Pennington proceeded to go 5 of 6 on the drive finishing with a 27 yard pass to Tedd Ginn for the touchdown. Following a Dan Carpenter extra-point the Dolphins took the lead 7 to 6. Following the kick off the Jets began with the ball on their own 29. On the very first play of the drive Brett Favre dropped back to pass having his pass this time intercepted by Philip Merling behind the line of scrimmage and then returned 25 yards for a touchdown. Following another Carpenter extra-point the Dolphins extended their lead to 14 to 6.
The Jets got the ball back with just over 2 minutes left in the half. Favre engineered a drive getting the Jets down to the Dolphins 10 as time was about to run out. The Jets were forced to settle for a field goal making the half time score 14 to 9. Miami started the second half with the ball at their own 38 following a 27 yard return from Patrick Cobbs. After a short drive to their own 47 punter Brandon Fields mishandled the snap and covered the ball at the Miami 28 thus turning the ball over on downs and giving the Jets a very short field. Following a ten yard rush for a touchdown by Leon Washington and a two point conversion the Jets took a 17 to 14 lead.
On the ensuing drive following the touch-back the Dolphins started with the ball on their own 20 and 10:33 left in the 3rd. The first play of the drive was a flea-flicker with Pennington handing off to Ronnie Brown who tossed it back to Pennington who threw deep to Tedd Ginn who caught the ball and was tackled at the Jets 36. The drive ended on a 20 yard pass from Pennington to Anthony Fasano for the touchdown. Following another converted extra point the Dolphins regained the lead 21 to 17. The Jets took over with 7:16 to go in the 3rd on their own 25. After only moving the ball 22 yards the Jets were forced to punt on a 4th and 8. Miami had no more luck on their next drive, punting after only moving the ball 20 yards with 2:35 left to go.
The Jets took over again with just under 2 minutes to go in the quarter. The quarter ended with the Jets in possession of the ball and a first and 10 at their own 34. The Jets moved the ball down to the Miami 43 before being forced to punt on a 4th and 2. On the 4th down play, the Jets had their punt blocked by Dolphins linebacker Charlie Anderson, recovered by Patrick Cobbs at the Dolphins 43 and returned to the Jets 49 yard line. On Miami's ensuing drive they only moved the ball 19 yard but it was enough for Dan Carpenter to convert the field goal giving Miami a 24 to 17 lead and what would eventually be the final score of the game.
The Jets next drive was ended when yet another Brett Favre pass was intercepted by Dolphins cornerback Andre' Goodman for his second of the day. Goodman returned the ball 3 yards to the Dolphins 28. On their next drive Miami managed to move the ball to the Jets 35 while also eating up most of the remaining time on the clock. Fields then punted to the Jets 1 yard-line, leaving the Jets 17 seconds on the clock. The game ended on one of those crazy multi lateral plays that never seems to work when the last lateral was fumbled and recovered by the Dolphins cornerback Nathan Jones.
Few games have been more satisfying to many of us Dolphins fans than one where the Dolphins were able to go in to the Jet's house (well technically they were always just borrowing it from the Giants) and snatch the division title away from them with their own former quarterback at the helm. Pennington ended the day with 22 of 30 for 200 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions and a 77.9 rating. For the Jets Favre had a horrible game going 20 of 40 for 233 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions, giving him a QB rating of 12.8 for the game. OUCH!
Although many still look back at the tenure of Tony Sparno with great disdain 2008 gave the Dolphins fans something to finally cheer about after years of sub par play and following the teams worst year on record. The 2008 Dolphins will forever now mark one of if not the greatest turn around's from one season to the next in NFL history. Beating the Jets at home to take the division was just the ultimate frosting on the cake that was that turnaround.