|Wednesday, December 4, 2002|
MNF's Greatest Games: Miami-New York Jets 2000
By Mike Diegnan
ABC Sports Online
On Nov. 11, the Raiders and Broncos played in the 500th regular season telecast of Monday Night Football. To celebrate, we asked fans to vote for their favorite MNF game. They selected the Jets' comeback over the Dolphins in 2000.
It all depends on where you are from how you felt about it.
In New York, the headlines blared "Monday Night Miracle Men!"
Down south, the Palm Beach Post called it a "Monday Meltdown".
For three quarters, though, the headline workers were trying to figure out how best to illustrate how bad the New York Jets were against the Dolphins in a battle of 5-1 teams. Most of them would have had references to the swamps of New Jersey. Vinny Testaverde had been picked off three times, Curtis Martin was a non-factor, their defense couldn't stop the Dolphins.
For the Dolphins, Jay Fielder couldn't have asked for a better outing. The former star at Oceanside (N.Y.) High School had doled out nearly 80 tickets to family and friends as he made his first start ever at the Meadowlands. It was good times for the local boy.
In fact, when Lamar Smith scored with 12 seconds left in the third quarter to give the Dolphins a 30-7 lead, Fiedler walked over to Jason Taylor and told him the game was over. Little did Fielder know that Taylor was being miked by Monday Night Football. Or that he just jinxed his team.
"It was all Fiedler's fault," jokes Dolphins linebacker Zach Thomas.
"It was a situation, where we were ahead by a lot, things were going very well for us and I wanted it to stay that way," Fiedler says.
Either way, with the crowd filing out, there were few who thought the Jets had a chance to come back.
"It was like a high school game out there," recalls Thomas. "I mean there was no one in the stands, and we really felt we had it won."
But then Vinny Testaverde hit Laveranues Coles with a 30-yard touchdown early in the fourth. It set in motion a wild quarter for Vinny. Four minutes later, he connected with Jermaine Wiggins on a 1-yard score, and it was a 10-point game. A John Hall field goal with 5:43 to go cut it to 30-23, and all of a sudden, fans started filing back into the stadium.
"We just tried to say hey, let's don't lose our poise. But it was hard not to," Thomas says. "Because the crowd started coming back into the game. It was wild. I've never seen (anything like) it. I guess they even opened the gates up for the people to come back in because usually when you leave, you can't get back in, but I've never seen within like five minutes left in the fourth quarter to fill back up. I guess everybody started leaving the game at the end of the third, and then they started hearing about it, everybody started rushing back, and by the time it was overtime, I mean it was packed."
The fans got back in time to see Testeraverde hit Wayne Chrebet with a 24-yard touchdown with 3:55 to go to tie the game.
"They booed us, they booed us, and then they booed us, and then they left," recalls Coles. "And then we started coming back, and then you seeing people filter in back into the stands, and I think with just half the stadium empty, that's probably about the loudest I ever heard it. I mean it was very exciting. There was so much energy in the stadium for the guys."
Two plays later, though, you could hear a pin drop, when Fiedler found Leslie Shepherd open down the right sideline for a 46-yard touchdown to put Miami on top once again.
|Vinny Testaverde could barely buy a first down for much of of the game.|
Testaverde went back to work from there, marching the Jets down the field again. The biggest play came on a fourth-and-1 from the Miami 4, when Testaverde hit Richie Anderson for a two-yard pickup. Two plays later, the Jets used a play they worked on in practice, but one that few expected would be called in a game situation, let alone one as critical as this: A pass to tackle eligible Jumbo Elliott.
"We were all on the sidelines like, 'Oh come on Jumbo, catch it,'" recalls Coles. "When he bobbled it, we were like 'Oh man.'"
Elliott found his way into the end zone wide-open. Testaverde lofted it to him, but a falling Elliott bobbled it before cradling it in to tie the game at 37-37 with 42 seconds left.
"But he caught it and then we looked at his face on the jumbo screen," says Coles. "His eyes were just wide open, and I think all the guys were like 'Jumbo, did you catch it?' And he was like 'Yeah.' So for us, it was very exciting, I mean, we just kept asking you caught it, right? You caught it, right? I think he was ignoring everybody. So I mean it was a big play for us, and we had worked on it and it came through for us in the end."
In overtime, the Dolphins still had a crack at winning the game, but the Jets would not be denied as Marcus Coleman picked off Fiedler to set up Hall's game-winning 40-yard field goal.
"I remember putting my arm around either Wayne or Dedrick (Ward) and just jumping up and down like a kid," says Coles. "And I was like 'We did it, we did it.' I was so excited. It was big. I was a rookie, and everything just was happening so fast, and for us to come out and get a victory like that on Monday night, I mean it was very exciting."
|Jumbo Elliott's first career touchdown catch was a huge one.|
For Testaverde, the game proved that this was his team. In the fourth quarter alone, the former Heisman Trophy winner was 18-of-26 for 235 yards and four TDs.
"He just took the game totally over and just made play after play," recalls Coles. "Him and Wayne was in the hole, drawing plays in the dirt. I had never seen that done in a professional game, and Vinny was just, he was just on. It's almost like he was a general. We were his soldiers, and he was directing, and just everything was clicking for him."
The Jets and Dolphins have played many memorable games, but the "Miracle at the Meadowlands" is one that will be fresh in the minds of many for years to come.
"It made me sick, because they are a rivalry of ours, and to live down here with all these New Yorkers, I mean, they remind you everywhere you go, and they definitely remind us when we came back home," Thomas says. "I mean you go out to a restaurant, they're chanting J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! but for them to come back on us, and we had the game on a lock, and for one person to beat us and Jumbo Elliot catching the ball, that just topped everything, and it just made me sick."
Mike Diegnan is the Editor of ABC Sports Online. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Olindo Mare and the Dolphins were dejected after the 40-37 loss.|
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