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The Miami Miracle

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What it was like witnessing one of the greatest Dolphins’ plays in history

NFL: New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

I wanted to get this article out on victory Monday (a.k.a Miracle Monday), but I needed an extra day to soak up and process everything that happened over the past couple days. And let me just say, what a weekend it turned out to be. I thought the Bears game, back in October, would be my favorite game of the year, but not anymore. I mean, that will still be one of my favorites. Remember when I witnessed the longest game in NFL History against the Titans? I stayed almost 12 hours to watch our team win. That was amazing, but still doesn’t compare to how I felt after our win on Sunday.

I was lucky enough to witness the Miami Dolphins pull off a one in a million chance play to perfection. I don’t know how to begin to describe how truly amazing it was to be at that stadium, but I’m going to do my best to try.

The Day Before

I have not missed the Patriots home game since 2012. My first Dolphins’ home game was against the Patriots in December 2012. We lost that game, but I was hooked. It’s hard to describe, but I always tell fans that when our team plays the Patriots at home, it’s just different. It’s almost always a good game. Brady has a weakness in Miami. It’s always an emotional game.

My favorite area to stay, when I’m in town for a game, is the Las Olas/A1A area. It’s where you can find the Elbo Room, Lulu’s and even Bokampers, that’s just a short drive away. I brought a friend with me to this game. It was her first NFL game. We drove in from Tampa on Saturday morning. I had to warn her about the amount of Patriots’ fans she would see. I told her you need thick skin to deal with some of them. You almost would think we were in Boston by the amount of fans. Patriots’ fans travel well for this game. It’s something you just have to accept. You also have to accept, if you are there with me, that Patriots’ fans will trash talk our team the whole day. And it all started at Bokamper’s Ft. Lauderdale.

Saturday afternoon I met up with a few people for lunch, who you may know from Twitter, at Bokampers. Locked on Dolphins’ writers Travis Wingfield, Jason Hrina, and USA Today’s beat writer Antwan Staley.

I respect these guys and even if sometimes we vary on opinions about players (Tannehill or Kiko), it was nice to discuss, face to face, the Dolphins and what we thought would happen on Sunday. Let’s be honest, not many people assumed we would win. The media was hyping up the Patriots and Brady’s record in Miami. It appeared they would come in and destroy us so Brady could end the Miami curse. Xavien Howard was declared out on Sunday, and our team just seemed beat up. But, I still had hope. I always do when it’s this game. I told the other guys, it’s just a different team when we play them here. That’s what we discussed on that Saturday afternoon, along with how we all became fans and swapping favorite game stories etc. Remember, we are at Bokampers, in Ft. Laurderdale, and I think we saw maybe two other Dolphins’ fans at the restaurant. We were surrounded by tables of Patriots’ fans. A few who even added in a few remarks about how bad we would lose. It’s cool. I just shrug my shoulders, roll my eyes, and tell them, “We’ll see. We always play well.”

If you really want to see how the Patriots take over our town, you need to check out Elbo Room and Lulu’s Bait Shack on the day/night before. We headed there next. It wasn’t as bad as last year, (I had fans yelling and booing me out of Elbo room) but it was still 85% Patriots’ fans. Now, that being said, I did meet up with a group of guys who travel down to this game from Boston. Yes, some of you may ask why would I put myself through the torture of them mocking our team, but like I said, I’m used to it.

I met this group in 2016 at Lulu’s Bait Shack. There are about 6-8 of them and they are born and raised Boston guys. Patriot fans who have always been fans. I respect other true fans (even if I hate your team). So, Saturday night was a few hours of friendly banter about various teams, eye rolling about Brady, them laughing at Marino, wondering what was going on with Packers, and catching up on life. However, mostly it was me and a Patriots’ fan yelling back and forth about why your team sucks. Travis Wingfield describes it here.

Overall, it was a good day. Most fans were respectable enough, because they knew to not brag too much after how they lost last year to Cutler.

I explained all of this to help set the scene for Sunday. If you have never been to a home game against the Patriots, now you can sort of understand just how overrun it is in Miami. Even though, Brady has a losing record in Miami, you only hear about how great their team is and how bad ours is. It can be hard to be hopeful for Sunday, but you have to try. Now, let’s bring on the best game I’ve ever witnessed.

Pre-Game

My best friend of almost 9 years, who I met at the 2009 Dolphins at Falcons game in Atlanta, made the trip to Sunday’s game. I have discussed our history with you all before. The Dolphins have yet to lose a game, that we have attended. We didn’t sit together for this game, but we did plan to both attend it. Here is a quick picture taken an hour before kickoff.

So....let’s just say, I think we bring good luck to our team.

The tailgating before the game was a success (even during the rain storm). It’s always fun. If you attend a game, home or away, please make sure you have time to tailgate. This is what football is all about. It’s all part of the game day experience. If you lose or win, a great day of tailgating can make it that much better.

The Stadium

The stadium was packed with Patriots’ fans. I don’t know the amount, but it felt like it was almost 75% New England fans. It’s always a good turnout for them, but this year felt like even more. I had Patriots’ fans on both sides of me, in front of me, and behind me. My seats are on the home side. So, just imagine that for a second. I even tweeted about it here.

I honestly just thought to myself, I hope I get the nice ones. I did. Completely respectable fans in my section, so nothing negative about them from me. Now, on to the game.

First Quarter

The Patriots’ scored on their opening drive. Fake dollar bills going flying in the air in front of me, thrown out onto the field by a Patriots’ fan. I’m rolling my eyes. Patriots’ fans are looking around giving us that look. You know the one, the “We’re sorry you are Dolphins’ fans look.” I just roll my eyes again. They go to kick the extra point and miss. We break out in cheers and I say, “They will pay for that miss. I promise.” You have to remain positive (for your sanity) when you are completely surrounded by opposing fans in your own stadium.

It’s our opening drive. Tannehill to Parker for first down. Tannehill fake hand off and runs for a first down. “Yesssss! That’s the mobile quarterback I love!” Tannehill hands off to Gore and he runs from 45ish down to inside the 10-yd line. The stadium breaks out in “U” chant. I’m thinking, ok we got this. Patriots’ fans are cheering and standing and I’m praying we can finish this drive because I wanted to shut them up. Tannehill to Stills and we score! “Oh my gosh, yesssss (as I’m jumping up and down high-fiving all 5 Dolphins’ fans around me)!” We’re in the lead. We got this game.

Patriots get the ball back. They are stopped on their next drive thanks to Kiko stopping them on 3rd down. Alright, we have about two minutes left of the first. Let’s try to score again Dolphins. “Are you kidding me?” as Tannehill gets sacked and there goes that drive. Patriot fans erupt in cheering. It was loud. I’m sitting down covering my face. You know how happy we get as fans when we sack Brady? Well, it’s worse when our quarterback gets sacked in our own stadium and it’s all cheers from Patriots’ fans. It’s fine. We have to stop them. “Oh God, nooooo.” Blocked kick and Patriots have the ball inside the 20yd-line. I’m standing up trying to cheer on our defense but all you see and hear are Patriots’ fans cheering. Let’s take a second to imagine that, if you weren’t there. You watched your quarterback get sacked, then blocked kick and Brady has the ball on the 18-yd line. You look around your seat and you’re completely surrounded by cheering fans in Brady jerseys. You can’t do much but let out a loud frustrated sigh ( and maybe other words) and think how much you hate their team.

Second Quarter

I’m screaming for defense as loud as possible, even though it’s drowned out by the opposing team. The Patriots score within the first minute of the quarter. It happened in my end zone. Once again, fake money goes flying up in the air. Patriots’ fans high-fiving each other. I’m sitting there with a blank stare. It’s fine. We have a lot of game left. It’s only 13-7. Another first down, thanks to a great pass to Stills. Stills, you’re looking good today. We can do this.

“Oh my gosh!” I’m screaming and jumping all over the place and started shaking the fan in front of me. I didn’t realize it was a Patriots’ fan. “I’m so sorry. Oh my gosh, I’m sorry. I thought you were someone else.” Random fan, “It’s totally ok. No big deal (as he is laughing).” Brandon Bolden scored. The running back we just signed. The former Patriots’ player. That stung the fans a bit. Thank you Danny Amendola for convincing Gase to sign him.

We’re ahead again. It’s one point, but we are still in the lead at 14-13 with still plenty of time till the half. Brady throws a pass to Gronk, and here I thought, “Oh here we go again.” I’m standing, screaming, and waving my flag yelling for defense to stop them. It didn’t work. Patriots take the lead, 20-14, with about 10 minutes left in the first half. If you re-watch the play online, you see so many Patriots’ fans in the stands. We were outnumbered. So many Brady jerseys around me. Just a sickening feeling. Oh and, yes, fake money goes tossing up in the air again. More eye rolling.

It’s ok. We have plenty of time. A dime pass to Stills and we all break out in cheers. We’re at the 30-yd line. Come on Dolphins! Now, I know you don’t want to stand and cheer when we are on offense, but I had to stand. I couldn’t see the play because of all the fans around me. “GOOOOOO! Oh my gosh! (more jumping/screaming/hugging people).” Another touchdown thanks to Bolden. Watching Patriots’ fans disappointed smirks was priceless.

It’s 21-20 and we’re back in the lead with seven minutes to go. This first half seemed to last forever. When you’re at the game in the stands, you miss some plays, of course, but this game seemed unreal. They score. We score. They score. We score. I’m sitting here thinking, “If this games ends like the Bears’ game I’m ok with it.”

Here comes Brady. Please stop them defense. All I see from my view is Brady driving right down to me. “Noooo!” I screamed as Gronk got reached the end zone. Yes, the end zone on my side. Fake money everywhere. Too many Brady jerseys around me. I’m trying not freak out. Patriots take the lead, 27-21, with over two minutes left in the first half. It’s fine. We just need to get some points before half-time.

Did that just happen? Is this a repeat from first quarter? Tannehill sacked and another blocked punt? Are you kidding me? The fans are going crazy. Patriots’ as far as the eye could see. Just waves of red and blue. Brady has the ball inside the 20-yd line. I couldn’t help but think, “I wish we had Howard right now. They are about to score again. I’m going to need a drink during the half. I really hate that team.”

Alright, we need to cheer. Loud. “Come on defense!” I’m screaming as loud as possible and waving at other fans to stand and join me. You know, all few of them in my section. It’s 3rd down and Brady gets sacked. “Yesssss! Come on clock, please!” That’s the half. We stopped them. “Alright, now we can go get a drink (I say to my friend).”

Third Quarter

Brady drives the ball down the field. I’m thinking, “We can’t have them score. If they get another touchdown I don’t know if we can recover.” We stopped them. They attempt a field goal and, “He missed!” We all break out in cheers. We’re only down by a touchdown and still have plenty of game left. We got this. Gore goes running to get us a first down to the 45-yd line. Stadium breaks out in, “U” chant. I’m not a fan of the team, but I chant along anyways. Gore runs again. We’re at the 25-yd line. “U” chant once again erupts from the stands. Oh my gosh, we’re gonna score. I just know it. Tannehill throws and I stand, cover my mouth and hold my breath.

“Yeahhhhhhhh!” This time, no money goes flying up. Only thing flying high is my Dolphins flag. Dolphins take the lead 28-27.

Brady throws to Gronk for a first down. I’m getting really tired of seeing Gronk complete all these catches. Come on defense! Gronk again for another first down. Darn it. Patriots’ fans erupt in cheers. “Come on defense! Go go go...yessss!”

Bobby McCain with the sack to close out the 3rd quarter! Patriots’ fans quiet and we’re all erupting in cheers. Nothing better than watching Brady get sacked during a game.

Fourth Quarter

We’re in the lead. Come on Tannehill! Let’s finish this game. “That’s another Miami Dolphins....first down!” As we all stand screaming. Let’s do that again. It’s 2nd and 16, Tannehill throws to Stills. “Goooooo!” “That’s another Miami....wait, what?” This is that play where Kenny Stills slides and just missed the first down mark. From my seats, it appeared he had it. Many of us fans started booing the refs because it appeared to be bad ball placement. Remember, you don’t have the same replay view you get at home. Alright, 3rd and 1, we can get this. Not again. Another sack on Tannehill. Brady jerseys jumping all around me. I sit down and cover by head thinking, “We can’t lose this game.”

Brady is driving down the field. “Come on defense!” All of us Dolphins’ fans are standing and cheering. The close is winding down fast. Much faster than the first half of the game. They can’t score. Defense stops the attempted touchdown pass. Maybe they will miss this kick again? No. Brady jerseys everywhere. Fake money goes flying in air. It’s fine. It was just 3 points. It’s only 30-28.

We get the ball. Why can’t we get a first down. “Come on Dolphins!” I scream as Patriots’ fans all have huge smiles. It’s the smirk of, “Yeah, we have Brady. You blew it!” Patriots have the ball again with less than 4 mins in the game. Brady is driving the ball down the field. “If they score a touchdown we’re done. We can’t lose. Come on defense!” Brady throws to Gordon. If he gets this, they will win. Here’s an image from that play.

Incomplete! “Yessssss! Noooo!” Flags go flying. I sit down and go, “They’re gonna win.” Pass interference call on Fitzpatrick and the Patriots will have the ball at the one yard line. I turned to my friend, “They’re going to win. Are you kidding me? Come on defense!” The clock winds down. They can’t score a touchdown. It’s fourth down. They are about to kick and win this game because it would be a miracle to win now. My friend asked if we wanted to leave.

“Block it! Please God block it!” I’m practically crying and Patriots’ fans are cheering and high-fiving each other. They already were chanting they won. Fans start to leave. Patriots kick and score. Fake money goes everywhere. Patriots’ fans are high-fiving and hugging. I see more Dolphins’ fans leave. I see Patriots’ fans leaving.

Miami Miracle

I sit down in my seat. I think to myself, “I hate this ****** team. I can’t believe we’re going to lose this way. After how we played, we can’t lose this way.” Tannehill gets the ball. We have seven seconds left. I’m praying for a miracle. I’m watching Patriots’ fans smiling and laughing. My heart stops for those last few seconds.

“Oh my gosh...oh my gosh.....gooooooo...HOLY ****!” My heart explodes. I’m falling on fans. I’m crying and almost pissing my pants from the excitement. I can’t believe what I just witnessed. Let’s watch that again.

Oh. My. Gosh. I still can’t stop smiling. Here, you go fans, let’s watch again.

If you want to get an idea of how loud we were all screaming, take a listen to this clip. That fan should just be me. We were all screaming that much.

I hope you all were just as loud at home, the bar, or wherever you watched. The Miami Dolphins pulled off the play of a lifetime. A play that almost never works. A Miami Miracle. One for the history books and I was there to witness it. I will never forget those last few moments. Fans were shocked. Patriots’ fans just stood there. Here is just one example of a fan from that game.

Yep. The game that shocked the NFL. Nobody expected that play to work. Let’s watch it again. But, with Celine Dion playing in the background. If you haven’t seen this version, (the extended one on Facebook is better) please watch.

It’s ok if you shed a tear of joy. I do almost every time I watch it.

How are you feeling now fans? Hopeful? Proud? You should be. Our team put up a fight against the Patriots. We deserve to have a Victory Week. I’m not even going to discuss anything else this week. I could discuss my favorite players from the game, but the whole team worked together to win that game. They worked together as a team. Don’t believe me? Watch the victory speech.

Don’t you just love this team?

Here is another cool clip, if you didn’t get a chance to watch, of what went into that miracle play. Here is coach Gase discussing with Bokamper about how they practiced that “Boise” miracle play.

Let’s enjoy this week fellow fans. Enjoy that miracle in Miami. Wear your Dolphins’ gear proudly. I know I am. I had so many people stopping me at the airport on Monday just to discuss the Dolphins game. That never happens. The Patriots never get embarrassed like that. Soak. It. Up. I think we need to watch that play one more time. This time in a slightly different version.

The “LOL Gronk” at the end just puts a smile on your face.

Week Ahead

We head up to Minnesota to play the Vikings. After watching them last night, we can win this game. It’s not exactly a must win to make playoffs, but I want to win. I want us to win out the rest of our games. We can do it. I think last Sunday’s game gave our team hope. I believe it will have them become closer as a team and to fight that much harder to make the playoffs. After everything our team as been through, we can do this.

Stay hopeful fans! Our season is not over yet. We still have a chance. Our 2018 Miami Dolphins made history last Sunday.

Enjoy this Victory Week and I’ll see you all next week!

P.S. Wish me luck as I travel up to Minnesota for the game.

Go Dolphins!