As I watched the final minutes of the Denver Broncos win over the Miami Dolphins, I found myself thinking back to 1991, and the Washington team that won the Super Bowl that year. They went 14-2, the best record in the NFL. And they waltzed through the playoffs.
In fact, their 13 point win over the Bills in the Super Bowl was the closest playoff game they played that year. And the thing absolutely no one remembers is that they didn’t play the two best teams in the NFC besides them, the 49ers and the Philadelphia Eagles.
Remember Reggie White and the guys?
Both teams finished 10-6, usually good enough to get in, but for whatever reason, not that year. In 49ers’ lore, even their fans have probably forgotten 1991, a failure by their standards (the team went 14-2 in 1990 and 14-2 in 1992), and a year where Steve Bono, subbing for an injured Steve Young, had to start 6 games.
The Eagles, at least, are remembered quasi-fondly by their fans, as that defense earned the distinction of winning the defensive triple crown (1st overall, 1st vs. the pass, 1st vs. the rush), and surely would have made the playoffs but for injuries to both the starting and backup QBs (Randall Cunningham and Jim McMahon), and having a bonehead for a coach (Rich Kotite).
But history has forgotten both of them, even though the Eagles were one of just two teams to beat Washington that year, even though San Francisco was a top 5 offense and top 5 defense that year, even though had those teams been in the playoff mix we likely would have seen one of the most epic showdowns in NFC playoff history instead of a pair of laughers.
So why do I bring all this up?
I bring all this up because the Miami Dolphins are now 6-5, and are very much in danger of not making the playoffs at all, and they’re one of only two teams to have beaten the New England Patriots this year, and history is likely going to forget them as well.
How close are the Dolphins to not being a 6-5 bubble team?
Consider this: In week 6 they had a touchdown lead on the Packers with less than 10 minutes to go. The Packers were able to score 10 unanswered from that point, with Aaron Rodgers throwing the game winning touchdown with just 3 seconds left. The Dolphins lost by 3.
Two weeks ago, the Dolphins kicked the go-ahead field goal against Detroit with four minutes left in the game. Matthew Stafford threw the game winning touchdown pass in that game with less than 30 seconds to go. The Dolphins lost by 4.
Yesterday, Miami inexplicably blew an 11 point fourth quarter lead, surrendering 21 fourth quarter points to eventually lose by 3, and potentially became inextricably linked (in my mind at least) to those coulda been teams from 13 years ago.
The playoffs could be just out of reach
Add the last second unheroics up and the Dolphins would be 9-2 with a tiebreaker in hand over New England, the second best defense in the NFL and a quarterback who’s gone from struggling to keep his job to red hot and posting the best rating of his career over the last several weeks.
Instead, their a team no one is talking about, and probably won’t for, say, another 13 years.