The 2008 Miami Dolphins were off to a 0-2 start under new head coach Tony Sparano. The team was coming off their 1-15 2017 campaign and it did not appear things were going to be any better this season. As the team got back on the plane to fly home from a loss against the Arizona Cardinals, there was a sense of dread hanging over the team. Sparano sat down with quarterbacks coach David Lee, who the previous year had worked as the Arkansas offensive coordinator and had run an offensive scheme which included a series of plays that the Dolphins would now consider adding to the playbook.
A week later, on September 21, 2008, the Dolphins were visiting their AFC East division rivals, the New England Patriots. The Patriots were coming off an undefeated 2007 regular season only to have lost in the Super Bowl to the New York Giants and were looking to continue to dominate the division. They were dealing with the loss of quarterback Tom Brady, who tore his ACL in the team’s season opener, now using Matt Cassel under center, but they were also on a 21-game regular season winning streak and it did not appear the Dolphins were going to be any threat to them extending the streak.
Yet, the Dolphins did not only beat the Patriots that day, they decimated them. Bill Belichick was out coached by the rookie head coach across the field from him. The Dolphins lined up with running back Ronnie Brown handling a shotgun snap six times in the game, scoring four rushing touchdowns and one passing touchdown on those plays. New England did not know what hit them, and Miami walked out of the game with a 38-13 win.
Miami went 10-3 over the remaining 13 games of the season, finishing the year 11-5. It marked the greatest single season turn around in league history, and the only time in the last 15 seasons in which the Patriots did not win the AFC East.
But, where were you when the magic started? I was in Iraq, trying to get updates about a 1pm ET game that was not on AFN for me to watch. Internet updates did not explain how Miami was dismantling the Patriots, but luckily the highlights started coming in fairly quickly. I did not know what I was watching, or why Chad Pennington was not playing quarterback - though he was still picking up stats and finished with 226 passing yards - but I knew the Dolphins were going insane on New England.
That was a fun night in Iraq. Suddenly, my Soldiers who were always on me about how bad the Dolphins were - we started that deployment mid-way through the 2007 season - were quiet. The Patriots fans did not seem as boisterous. And, when AFN finally replayed the game, it was magical to watch.
Your turn. Where were you the night the Wildcat was unleashed?