This is the second of three plays nominated as the most memorable play in team history. Earlier this week we featured Miami Dolphins Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino's fake-spike play against the New York Jets in 1994. On Wednesday we also will feature receiver Greg Camarillo’s 64-yard overtime touchdown reception in 2007 that prevented Miami from becoming the NFL’s first 0-16 team. Please vote for your choice as the Dolphins’ most memorable play.
Score: Chargers 41, Dolphins 38 (OT)
Date: Jan. 2, 1982 Site: Orange Bowl
On the road, the San Diego Chargers were on the verge of blowing out the Dolphins in Miami. San Diego jumped out to a 24-0 lead in the divisional playoffs. But the Dolphins mounted a comeback for the ages. A major part of that comeback included a perfectly run hook-and-lateral play at the end of the first half that rarely works at the NFL level.
Dolphins Hall of Fame coach Don Shula made the perfect call on San Diego’s 40-yard line. Quarterback Don Strock hit receiver Duriel Harris on a curl route and San Diego’s safety and cornerback bit on the route. Dolphins running back Tony Nathan timed the play and began streaking outside. He caught the lateral from Harris and ran in untouched for the touchdown to cut the halftime deficit to 24-17. It was a long shot that gave the Dolphins momentum going into the locker room.
“It never even worked in practice,” Nathan told the South Florida Sun Sentinel of the play.
The astonishing play nearly deflated the Chargers entering the second half. The Dolphins scored 24 straight points against San Diego and tied the game in the third quarter. Miami even took a 38-31 lead in the fourth quarter to nearly pull off the improbable victory. But San Diego also showed resilience by scoring a late touchdown to force overtime and a sudden-death field goal to win it.
This playoff contest was voted “Game of the 1980s” by the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Dolphins and Chargers had two 400-yard quarterbacks and 79 total points. Miami did not come out on top. But its hook and lateral remains the most memorable play in one of the best games in NFL history.