Miami Dolphins News and Notes: Remembering the Epic Showdown with San Diego
For my friend, Chris McLeod, it was the game he became a San Diego Chargers fan. For myself, it was one of the saddest days of my life as a Miami Dolphins fan. It’s known as the Epic in Miami – a 41-38 win by the Chargers in the Orange Bowl that changed playoff football in my eyes forever.
To watch it on television – from what I have been told – was a feeling of triumph and then despair. To watch it in person was maybe the greatest football game I have ever seen with the exception of the 31-31 tie between the Seminoles and Gators in 1996.
The game, won by the Chargers in overtime, 41–38, is one of the most famous in National Football League lore because of the conditions on the field, the performances of players on both teams, and the numerous records that were set. It was also referred to in the Miami Herald as the "Miracle That Died", while Sports Illustrated dubbed it the "Game No One Should Have Lost".
This weekend, the Dolphins and Chargers clash again, 32 years later and while there have been many other contests between the two, and all I can think of is how this writer who was 11 years old at the time, was impacted by that game forever.
The Dolphins of 2014 are trying to move forward from the 27-13 sloppy win over the Jacksonville Jaguars and focus on a San Diego Chargers passing attack that may not be as prolific as Dan Fouts and his core of wide receivers and a solid running game, but it has a chance to put up plenty of points on Sunday.
The Miami Dolphins defense, however, may be as tough as the defensive unit back then under Don Shula. As a unit, it will certainly have a say in the outcome on Sunday.
JORDAN LOOKS GOOD IN FIRST GAME
According to the team’s website, defensive end Dion Jordan looked good in his first game of the 2014 season.
Jordan ended up playing 30 of the Dolphins’ 71 snaps on defense and was often used in non-passing situations, something that didn’t happen often in Jordan’s rookie season.
Jordan was credited with two tackles on defense and another one on special teams, where he got 19 snaps.
THE DEFENSE SCORES MORE THAN THE OFFENSE
The Dolphins’ long interception returns, as chronicled on Dolphins.com today, were a hot topic of conversation during the weekly day-after press conferences of Head Coach Joe Philbin and Coyle.
The Dolphins are averaging an amazing 43.2 yards on their six interception returns this season after scoring two touchdowns against Jacksonville, and both Philbin and Coyle said Monday the team spends time at practice working on that part of the game.
“A lot,” Philbin pointed out. “Kevin and the staff do a great job of teaching that. There’s semi-art to it, if you will. A lot of times we do pursuit drills and sometimes we just emphasize pure, flat-out pursuit to the ball carrier. Then there are other days where we will do an interception drill where we will turn the ball around, give guys with hand shields and we’ll set up the blocking the way we want and then coach up going down the numbers and specific blocking that we would like to get. It’s something we like to teach a lot and they take pride in it.”
Coyle said the Dolphins actually are devoting more practice time to interception returns this year than in the past.