The Miami Dolphins franchise is one of milestones, moments, and memories. However, like any franchise in the NFL, there has been misery as well. The extent of the latter is measured in different ways, and that is dependent on the individual holding the instrument.
The milestones of Miami are all over Hard Rock Stadium. Whether they are banners, statues, retired numbers, or names of Miami Immortals forever remembered in white letters circling the upper deck.
The moments are captured exquisitely on entrance hallways, picturesque in a quality that sends you magically back to the stadium or living room or bar or streaming device in which those memories developed in front of your younger eyes.
The Hook and Lateral. The Snow Angel. The Fake Spike. The Miracle.
The Mountaineer Shot.
Whether you are a teenage fan, a millennial, a greatest-generationer, or Godchaux-forbid, a Boomer, one thing should be agreed upon;
The Miami Dolphins have more NFL moments with “The” in front of it than any of the 31 other franchises.
The latest play in Findom lore, is the now historic pass from punter Matt Haack to kicker Jason Sanders, on a 4th and goal while trailing 13-7 against the visiting Philadelphia Eagles.
A team traveling with a city that must have flown in an aircraft similar to Thor’s at the end of Ragnarök.
With a virtual three-to-one fan advantage, believe that or not, the Eagles home-game-South basically turned into a trip down the River Styx.
“The Mountaineer Shot” did not physically harm a soul, but it killed two birds with one stone.
The first casualty was the visiting team, said Birds, who now have a treacherous at best path to a back-door division title with no hope of 10 wins.
The other “bird” was more fictitious.
A media-driven waste of words, characters and social-media battles.
The tank talk wasn’t just killed; it was never even born. Not in Miami Gardens at least.
As the 2019 season now turns it’s tide from total “tank” to relative “triumph,” all things considered, the Miami fan base will now do what it is famous for.
Hope, and reminisce.
What “The Shot” did, similarly to what “The Miracle” did, was inject a much-needed shot of life into a team and a fan base clamoring for more than just “hope.”
How the Eagles will respond is anyone’s guess, but remember what happened to the 1994 New York Jets after Marino took the call from Bernie Kosar to fake a clock-play?
The Jets were in playoff contention, sitting at 6-5 with the Dolphins in town and leading late in the 4th quarter.
A time when the 2-minute drill was an easier watch on offense for Miami while trailing, as opposed to being on defense while leading.
Marino’s Fake Spike was a toxic blend of a game-loss for arguably the most hated rival at that time, followed by four consecutive losses to end their season, and just four wins combined for the Jets franchise over the next two seasons in 1995 and 1996. 3-13 and 1-15, respectively.
Including it’s game result, the post-Fake-Spike record across three seasons for the Jets was 4-23.
“The Spike,” lasted three seasons.
Like other famous plays, “The Mountaineer Shot” did for fans and players what only an instant classic can do, and that is inspire.
Of course, with no playoffs in view in 2019, the Dolphins are building more than memories and elevator door skins to match their massive Super Bowl hosting preparation.
They are building a top-to-bottom structure that like any other skyscraper, may take a year or two to complete before the rooms are all leased-up or even better, sold.
If only they had an owner who knew about building, developing and Real Estate….
Coach Brian Flores rolls the dice weekly, and wisely at that, so this is not a maverick gambler throwing caution into the wind.
Coach Flores has been a technical genius thus far and with help from his staff, dare I say, an innovator.
It could be an amoeba defensive formation, a surprise onside kick or even a punter-to-kicker touchdown toss.
This Coach wants to win at any cost. Regardless of the hand he is dealt, there are Aces up his long-sleeves.
Sure, certain plays like “The Miracle” have a bit of a stain to them. Miami lost their remaining three games following Sir Kenyan’s scamper, and while Gronk didn’t have the angle, the Dolphins didn’t celebrate again in 2018.
When Tony Nathan narrowed the gap against the Chargers in 1987 with the Hook and Lateral, the Dolphins did not emerge as winners when San Diego hobbled off the field as overtime victors in an all-time classic.
The 1994 season did not end with a Super Bowl run following Marino to Mark Ingram Sr.for the 4th time that afternoon in the swamps of the New Jersey Meadowlands.
What will be the aftermath of “The Shot?”
Only time will tell, but this time, something just feels different.
Some can see it coming together as clear as the sliding elevator doors that capture DeVante Parker on his rise, where his ground floor is about to shoot up to the roof following a tad of maintenance.
Like any other situation in Dolphins history, it isn’t about the play once we get to the middle of the week following it.
It now becomes a question of, “what happens next?”
Journalists, bloggers, podcasters and fans alike don’t have a clue what will happen next.
Yet, for those above who question, “What has improved with this team from the first month of the season..?”
Here is your answer...
In Miami’s first four games, they averaged 9.5 points per. In the second quarter of the season, that number spiked to 17.5 points per games 5-8.
The third quarter, concluding this past Sunday, sees a 24.25 point per game average in games 9-12.
These are not baby steps. They are Quantum Leaps.
Scott Bakula is not leading the Texas State University Fighting Armadillos in Necessary Roughness in this case. They freaked out over finishing 1-8-1 after stopping Flat Top and the #1 fictional collegiate team in cinema that year - The Texas University Colts.
“Wow” - (Jason Bateman)
If there is another thing that is clear, whatever does happen the next month of the 2019 season, this team will be prepared for it, and chances are, the opposing team will not be.
The most important variable in football just may be resiliency -- and we are witnessing a coach in Brian Flores who can not only harness grit but develop players and prepare them to compete...
Win... lose... or... Draw!
Long live, “The Mountaineer Shot.”