Unfortunately, the 1994 AFC Divisional playoff remains fresh in the minds of many, but kicker Pete Stoyanovich came through in the clutch numerous times over his seven years with the Miami Dolphins. On this day 30 years ago, Stoyanovich went from goat to hero.
After missing the game-tying extra point earlier in the fourth quarter, Stoyanovich ultimately sent the Joe Robbie Stadium crowd home happy. His 37-yard field goal lifted the Dolphins past the New York Jets, 19-17.
At 9-5, Miami’s AFC East and playoff hopes hung in the balance on the evening of Dec. 20, 1992. Desperate for a win, the Dolphins trailed 17-10 with less than three minutes remaining.
On 4th-and-2 from their own 45-yard-line, the Dolphins had no choice but to keep its offense on the field. Executed to perfection, a wide receiver screen from Dan Marino to Tony Martin went for 55 yards and what appeared to be the game-tying score. Unfortunately for Miami, Stoyanovich missed the tying PAT.
Now down 17-16, the Miami defense would give the fourth-year kicker a chance to atone. The Dolphins forced a 3-and-out on the ensuing New York possession. To make matters worse for New York, Louie Aguiar’s punt traveled just 29 yards, giving the Dolphins the ball in Jets territory.
An 11-yard completion from Marino to Freddie Banks and a 17-yard completion to Mark Duper is all it took to put the Dolphins in field goal range. With just seven seconds left on the clock, Stoyanovich made good on his second chance to give Miami the lead and eventual victory.
Prior to the final quarter, a 39-yard touchdown pass from Marino to Mark Clayton in the opening period had accounted for all the Miami scoring. Browning Nagle tied the game for the Jets with a 48-yard touchdown pass to Rob Moore before Bobby Houston returned a Marino interception 20 yards for a Jets touchdown. Louis Oliver had two interceptions for the Miami defense in the victory.
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With a win over the New England Patriots the following week and a Buffalo Bills loss to the Houston Oilers, Miami would win the AFC East. Those hopes were kept alive with a thrilling victory over the Jets on this day three decades ago.