Thirteen NFL seasons have passed since the Miami Dolphins had to wait this long to see the division rival New York Jets for the first time on the schedule. That puts a different dynamic on Sunday’s game.
You have to go back to the end of the 20th century – and the end of a frustrating 1999 season – to find a scenario when Miami and New York didn’t square off until December. The two teams met at the Meadowlands on December 12th with the Dolphins sitting at 8-4 after a 7-1 start, and then they faced each other again in Miami two weeks later on December 27th, with the Jets winning both games.
Now the two AFC East teams are tied at 5-6 and will be fighting to stay in the hunt for the sixth and final playoff spot at MetLife Stadium, with their second meeting scheduled for Sun Life Stadium in the regular season finale on December 29th. It is definitely unchartered territory for this group of Dolphins players and coaches.
“This is a little different because we haven’t seen them yet and it’s already what, our 12th game,” said Head Coach Joe Philbin, who already has played Buffalo and New England once. “They don’t necessarily feel like a division opponent yet because we are just kind of watching them for the first time where a lot of times in the division you get them relatively early. Now you are playing them in December late. I think division rivalries are special.”
Now that he has a better feel for how intense the emotions can get between the Jets and Dolphins, Tannehill believes he is better prepared to deal with the crowd noise and the other aspect of playing at MetLife Stadium. He can also pass that knowledge down to the rookies.
“You start to understand it your rookie year hearing guys talk in the locker room that have been around,” Tannehill said. “Now I have a year under my belt going on two, so you start to feel the competition increase on division games. Playing teams twice a year definitely adds to that.”
This year’s rookie class is gathering as much information as possible about the Jets and specifically about playing in the Meadowlands so as to not be caught off guard at kickoff.
“We just understand that being on the road it’s going to be a hostile environment and that this is a rivalry that has been going on for a long time,” said rookie defensive end
“Coach (Philbin) talked about it right after (last week’s) game was over and everybody knows what it is, it’s a rivalry game,” Grimes said. “It goes back a long time and he put something up on the board showing how these two teams have played each other 95 times. So there’s a lot of history in this game and we know what it is going in, that they’ve got passionate fans, it’s going to be a hard-nosed game and they’re going to want to run the ball. So it’s going to be a cool game, and this game is magnified because we all know the playoff picture, so knowing that this is a big game we just have to perform.”
THIS AND THAT
Rookie running back
Today’s musical selections for the warm-up period covered a wide range of genres over the last three decades or so, starting with “It Takes Two,” by Rob Base and D.J. E-Z from 1988 and continuing with 1990’s “The Humpty Dance,” by Digital Underground. Jay-Z wrapped things up with “Empire State Of Mind,” featuring Alicia Keys.
THE LAST WORD
“It’s always nice when you’re not home to still have fans rooting you on and it’s cool that they are taking up a whole corner.” – long snapper