Throughout the Miami Dolphins history there have been major headlines that have shaped the organization. Some came rather close to not happening.
What if history had changed? What if a ball fell a different way, bounced left when it had gone right. An incomplete pass instead of a completion? Those are the thrills of the games and it’s hard to imagine that sometimes a simple bounce could change what we know now.
With the off-season finally coming to an end, here is a look at five headlines that the Miami Dolphins never got to experience. Some for the good and some for the bad.
5: Miami Dolphins head to 4th straight Super Bowl
The Miami Dolphins beat the Oakland Raiders in Oakland after a last minute pass attempt by Kenny Stabler fell incomplete being tipped away. The ball traveled through a “Sea of Hands” before being knocked down short of the intended receiver. A week later the Dolphins hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers. The heat was too much for the northern black and gold and the Dolphins are now advancing to their 4th straight Super Bowl.
Reality: The Dolphins not only lost to the Raiders on that last minute touchdown throw but they would miss the post-season the following season.
4: Dolphins win Super Bowl VII finish season 16-1
In what will go down in history as one of the best seasons in the NFL the Miami Dolphins capped off a near perfect run beating the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII. Miami came one game close to a perfect season losing only in week six to the Buffalo Bills.
Reality: The Bills lost to the Dolphins by one point in week 6. The Vikings came up two points short in week 3.
3: Dolphins beat Redskins for a 2nd time to win Super Bowl
The Miami Dolphins beat the Washington Redskins to win Super Bowl XVII. Defense was stellar for the Dolphins in the 2nd half as the Dolphins offense was unable to gain more than two first downs and nine yards. Kim Bokamper intercepted Joe Theismann in the end-zone for a touchdown and Don McNeal made the game sealing open field tackle on John Riggins on third down. The win is Don Shula’s 3rd Super Bowl victory.
Reality: The Dolphins offense was slammed in the 2nd half of the game and Riggins broke the McNeal tackle for a 43 yard touchdown run. Bokamper’s attempted interception in the end zone was knocked away by Theismann at the last second.
2: Dan Marino heads back to Super Bowl
Dan Marino will make his 2nd Super Bowl appearance in a rematch against the San Francisco 49’ers to cap the 1994 NFL season. Miami beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Conference Championship to advance but it was the leg of kicker Pete Stoyanovich who made the Steeler game possible. Trailing by one point with only seconds remaining to play, Stoyanovich’s 48 yard field goal was enough to beat the hosting Chargers by two points.
Reality: Stoyanovich’s 48 yard field missed. The Chargers had just scored to take the lead. Their kick-off was only 39 yards but Dan Marino failed to complete three consecutive passes. The ball was advanced to the Charger 32 on a pass interference call on 2nd down. Miami did not gain a single yard on their own. The field was still thick with smoke from a celebratory canon type firing after the Chargers final touchdown making it a little more difficult for Stoyanovich who missed.
1: Miami Dolphins draft Drew Brees OR Miami Dolphins sign free agent QB Drew Brees
With the 26th pick of the 2001 NFL Draft the Miami Dolphins selected Purdue quarterback Drew Brees. Brees will compete with incumbent quarterback Jay Fiedler in Dave Wannstedt’s offense but is viewed as a quarterback who could become a franchise type player.
Reality A: Brees was passed over in favor of CB Jamar Fletcher. Had Brees been drafted would it have been possible that Dave Wannstedts career would have lasted longer than 2004? The Dolphins had a solid running game and a good defense but lacked solid quarterback play.
Reality B: The Dolphins had two choices to make under Nick Saban. Trade for Daunte Culpepper or sign unrestricted free agent Drew Brees. Brees has become the face of New Orleans while Culpepper played in four games in his only Dolphins season.
In 2016 the Miami Dolphins advanced to the playoffs for the first time since 2008 and many pointed to lucky bounces. An interception returned for a touchdown against the Chargers by Kiko Alonso or the tackle of Colin Kaepernick on the one yard line by Alonso and Ndamukong Suh. Detractors point to moments like those as the only reason Miami made the post-season but history shows that a bounce one way can completely change what we know about football.