40-year Phiniversary: Duhe’s 3 picks lead Miami Dolphins’ AFC Championship shutout

Despite an outstanding effort in Orchard Park last week, the Miami Dolphins will be watching the remainder of the NFL Playoffs at home.

On this day 40 years ago, however, the Dolphins punched their ticket to Super Bowl XVII. At a sloppy Orange Bowl, A.J. Duhe led the Miami defense with three interceptions in a 14-0 shutout of the New York Jets.

Entering the AFC Championship on Jan. 23, 1983, the Jets had lost just three times all season. Two of those defeats had come to the Dolphins.

After opening the season with a 45-28 win in the Meadowlands, Miami had used a late field goal from Uwe von Schamann to beat New York at the Orange Bowl in mid-December. Both of those contests, however, would be much prettier than the contest in the mud for a trip to Pasadena.

Both teams were held below 200 yards of offense. They combined for nine turnovers.

Miami quarterback David Woodley would be intercepted three times, including twice by defensive back Ken Schroy. New York quarterback Richard Todd’s day, however, would be even worse. He was picked off five times.

The contest went to the half scoreless, but Duhe’s first interception gave the Dolphins the ball in Jets territory early in the third quarter. Seven plays later, Woody Bennett burst into the end zone from seven yards out to put Miami on the board.

For the remainder of the contest, New York wouldn’t run a play in Miami territory. After being intercepted by Glenn Blackwood in the first, Todd was picked off by Gerald Small and Duhe three times in the second half. His final pick of the day was returned 35 yards for a touchdown by Duhe with less than 13 minutes remaining to build what seemed like an insurmountable 14-0 lead for the Dolphins.

Despite finishing with just 198 yards, the Dolphins owned the best offense on that day. In addition to the five interceptions, the Miami defense added four sacks. Two came from Kim Bokamper.

The Dolphins would go on to fall to the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XVII by a score of 27-17. Their shutout win over the Jets, however, gave the Dolphins their first AFC title in nine years and fourth in 12 seasons. It was clinched with the help of three Duhe interceptions on this day four decades ago.