“It really didn’t hit me until a couple of weeks later,” Pederson recalls today. “I have a print on my wall at home that honors that game and all the guys signed it. I look at it and remember. It was a great achievement for Coach.”
The Eagles and Dolphins play again this Sunday and everything is now different. Shula will watch the game from his skybox and Pederson will be in the coaches box with the other Eagles assistants. But whenever these two teams play, it’s hard for me not to think back to that game in 1993 when Shula broke a record that, I believe, will never be matched.
I remember Pederson standing by his locker after the game, not knowing really what to say. “Everybody suspected it would be Dan Marino in that position since he had won so many of those games with Coach Shula,” Pederson said.
But Marino was out with a season-ending Achilles’ injury and that moved Pederson up the pecking order. The Dolphins were trailing 14-13 when Mitchell went down. Pederson led the Dolphins to a pair of field goals and the victory. With it, his place in Dolphins history was secured. Pederson played only that one season with the Dolphins, and will be remembered for just one game.
And now that he is a coach – trying to solve the riddle of a vastly improved Dolphins defense this Sunday – he has a far better appreciation of Shula’s record.
“I look at Coach (Andy Reid) here in Philadelphia and what he has accomplished with more than 100 wins and he is still almost 200 wins short of Coach Shula’s record. It is incredible he had so much success for so long.”
Back to the present and some additional thoughts before we put the victory over the Raiders behind us:
• The efficiency of quarterback
• Can we finally put to bed all those questions about
• The Dolphins defense had nine minus plays against the Raiders, according to Coach Tony Sparano. That statistic says so much about what this defense has accomplished lately. The defense is moving the line of scrimmage backward. I thought the Raiders would be a tough physical test for this defense. The Dolphins passed that test convincingly.
• Cross your fingers that it continues, but if the Dolphins aren’t the healthiest team in the league with four games left they are certainly in the conversation.
• Finally, I know this is still several weeks away, but I’m already looking forward to the game at New England on Christmas Eve. This could serve as a clear indication of how far this football team has come. Everybody, no doubt, remembers what happened to the Dolphins, specifically on defense, in their season opener way back on Sept. 12th. If Tom Brady thinks he’ll be seeing the same defense again, he’s in for a major surprise. This isn’t to say the Dolphins are going to stop Brady – who does? – but I don’t expect it to be anything like it was in the first meeting.