On This Date October 23, 2000: Monday Night Miracle

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

It is a Monday Night Miracle in the Meadowlands, as the New York Jets, trailing 30-7 at the start of the fourth quarter, rally to beat the Miami Dolphins in overtime 40-37.  The Jets score 23 points to tie the game, only for Miami to answer on a 46-yard pass from Jay Fielder to Leslie Shepherd. The Jets again tied the game when Jumbo Elliott caught a pass from Vinnie Testaverde with 42 seconds left, winning in overtime on a 40-yard field goal by John Hall. 

For the Miami Dolphins, there indeed was life after Dan Marino, as Jay Fiedler won the starting quarterback job and had Miami off to a 5-1 start for coach Dave Wannstedt. This included a Sunday night win over the Baltimore Ravens in which Marino’s #13 was retired. The New York Jets were also moving on. In their case, it was a new coach as Bill Parcells stepped down after three seasons. At first, the Jets named Bill Belichick as their new coach, but Belichick balked and went to the New England Patriots instead. The Jets meanwhile settled for Al Groh as their new coach. 

It was the first Monday Night game for Miami following the retirement of Dan Marino. While the Subway Series overshadowed the game in New York. The Dolphins got the ball first and had a long drive, consuming seven minutes, which resulted in a 28-yard field goal by Olindo Mare. Things did not go so well for the Jets on their first drive as the Jets went three and out. The Dolphins, on their second drive, quickly went down the field. Leslie Shephard reeled in a 42-yard pass from Fiedler to give the Dolphins a 10-0 lead. The Jets went three and out again on their second possession, while Miami made it 17-0 with a 68-yard run from Lamar Smith. 

On the first play of the second quarter, Sam Madison picked off Vinnie Testaverde, setting up a 42-yard Miami field goal. Late in the second quarter, the Jets offense got on a track Wayne Cherbet had a ten-yard touchdown reception. Jay Fiedler was able to the Dolphins another three points before the half, taking advantage of a poor kick off from John Hall. Late in the third quarter, the Jets showed their desperation going for it on fourth and one from their own 35. After Richie Anderson was stopped, the Dolphins added to their lead with a three-yard run by Lamar Smith.  

Down 30-7, Jets announcer Howard David declared that the game was lost. As fans headed for the exit, the Jets headed down to the end zone, with Laveranues Coles catching a 30-yard pass for a touchdown. The Jets attempt at a two-point conversion failed as they trailed 30-13. The Jets quickly got the ball back as the Dolphins went three and out. Playing no-huddle, the Jets again quickly went down the field with Jermaine Wiggins grabbing a one-yard pass from Testaverde. The Dolphins again were unable to do anything with the ball as the crowd at Giants Stadium came back in the game. The Jets meanwhile drove down the field and set John Hall up for a 34-yard field goal. 

Trailing by just a touchdown, the Jets again shut down the Miami offense, getting the ball back with 4:28 at the Miami 39, as Matt Turk shanked a punt. The Jets quickly scored as Wayne Cherbet caught a 24-yard pass. The Dolphins were reeling, but Sam Madison helped get their offense back on track with a 47-yard kick return into Jets territory. Just one play and the Dolphins were back in front as Shepherd made a 46-yard touchdown reception. Trailing again, the Jets still had the momentum and went down the field with Jumbo Elliott as an eligible tackle catching a three-yard pass to tie the game 37-37.

The Dolphins ran out the clock in regulation and won the overtime coin toss. However, just as they got to midfield, Jay Fielder was picked off by Marcus Coleman. The Jets drove the ball setting up John Hall to win 40-37 on a 40-yard field goal. 

The game was the biggest comeback in Monday Night Football history and voted the fan’s favorite game. The Dolphins recovered from the devastating loss by winning their next three games and won the AFC East with a record of 11-5. The Jets, meanwhile, in typical fashion, lost their next three games and went on to miss the playoffs at 9-7.