Mandatory Credit: MiamiDolphins.com
On January 2nd, 1982 the Miami Dolphins hosted the San Diego Chargers in the divisional round of the playoffs. The Dolphins were coming off an 11 win season and facing the best offensive passing team in the NFL. At game time the temperature soared to 78 degrees with 80% humidity which made the on field temperature closer to 88 degrees. Later Charger players would say it felt as though the temp was getting hotter as the night went on.
San Diego opened a 24-0 lead over the Dolphins in the first quarter but Miami responded with 17 points in the second and entered half-time down by seven. The key to the game came late in the first half. With the Dolphins trailing 24-10 Miami took the ball on their own end of the field and with 30 seconds left and two time-outs drove into San Diego territory. The Dolphins lined up at the Charger 40 yard line with six seconds left. San Diego dropped into Hail Mary protection cover but the Dolphins pulled off a stunning play.
Don Strock threw a perfect 20 yard pass to Duriel Harris who immediately lateraled to running back Tony Nathan who scampered in for the remaining 20 yards. The play set the Dolphins up for a wild 2nd half.
Miami drove the field to start the 3rd quarter and tied the game. Both teams traded points from that moment on. With seconds left in the game the Dolphins drove to the Chargers 30 yard line where Uwe Von Schamman set up to make the game winning field goal. It was blocked by Charger tight-end Kellen Winslow and the game sped into overtime tied at 38.
On the first drive of the extra quarter, San Diego drove deep into Miami territory but the Dolphins forced a turnover and turned around and drove back deep into Chargers territory setting up the game winning field goal. Drained, broken, and limping, Kellen Winslow once again found the strength to block the kick. The Chargers would move the ball down field where Rolf Benierschke would kick the game winning 35 yard field goal.
The game is considered one of the best football games in NFL history and the teams literally limped off the field following the game. Winslow as helped off with his arms wrapped around two other players. For the Dolphins, it’s the greatest game they ever played and didn’t win.
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