In his 40th season covering the Miami Dolphins, Andy Cohen celebrates the 100th anniversary of the NFL by looking back at some of most memorable moments, players and performances in Dolphins' history.
The last time we saw the Miami Dolphins at home they pulled off one of the great trick plays of all time, the fake field goal against the Philadelphia Eagles.
That got me thinking. The trick play has made an enormous impact on the history of this franchise. In fact, you can argue that the Dolphins have had more meaningful, big moment trick plays than perhaps any other team in the league.
With that in mind, let's dig deep into that bag of tricks and pull out my take on the top five trick plays in Dolphins' history. To better gauge how impressive this list is you've got to know a few of the plays that didn't make it.
The touchdown pass from halfback Ronnie Brown to tight end Anthony Fasano on the October of 2008 day the Wildcat offense was unveiled in New England didn't make it.
For those with great memories, a successful 1980 onside punt against Cincinnati by George Roberts – yes, he punted the onside kick – didn't make it either.
And finally, the Miami Miracle didn't make it because it really wasn't a trick play, more a remarkable, improbable impromptu play that couldn't have possibly been drawn up in advance.
With all of that in mind, my Top Five Tricks.
No. 1: Mountaineer Shot
The play was named for Dolphins center Daniel Kilgore, who played at Appalachian State (Mountaineers) and snapped the ball on a play that was as surprising as it was well executed. The Eagles never saw it coming. A fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line. Five Dolphins lined up wide left, four lined up wide right and Kilgore snapping to punter Matt Haack, who fakes a run and then sort of shot puts a pass to wide open placekicker Jason Sanders for the touchdown. Sanders, the first kicker to catch a touchdown pass in 42 years, had been one of the five players lined up to the left. The play went flawlessly, just the way Special Teams Coordinator Danny Crossman had drawn it up. You'll watch it five times and you'll want to watch it a sixth. And then a seventh. It was that impressive.
No. 2: Hook and Lateral
Whenever I think of this play from the 1982 playoff game against San Diego, I still so vividly remember how the old Orange Bowl shook, how the noise was so loud at that precise moment that you could hardly hear yourself think and how the play was executed as brilliantly as the call itself. It began with a 20-yard pass from Don Strock to Duriel Harris. Then came the moment, Harris lateralling to Tony Nathan who had been trailing the play. Nathan ran 25 yards untouched the rest of the way, raising the ball high as he crossed the goal line, the Dolphins coming back from a 24-0 deficit to trail 24-17 at the half. Yes, they lost the game. Lost it in overtime. It was a painful one to lose. But it was the hook and lateral that stole the night and is rightfully remembered with far greater clarity than the final score.
No. 3: The Fake Spike
This tricked the New York Jets right out of their season and Pete Carroll right out of his job. It was November of 1994 and everyone in the Meadowlands, almost everyone, thought Dan Marino was going to spike the ball to stop the clock at the Jets' 8-yard line with only 38 seconds left. But Marino had other thoughts, conveyed to him by back-up quarterback Bernie Kosar. So instead of the spike there was a fake spike, called The Clock Play, and a touchdown pass to Mark Ingram, his fourth of the game. The Dolphins won that game 28-24 and the Jets would go winless the rest of the season, Carroll losing his job as a result. To this day, you get the feeling talking to Marino that it was one of his proudest moments.
No. 4: The Wild Wildcat
No, this wasn't the unveiling. That occurred in September of 2008 in New England. But this play against the Houston Texans two weeks later showed a side of The Wildcat we had yet to see, perhaps the most creative side. Running back Ronnie Brown took the snap, which he usually did in The Wildcat. He then gave the ball to Ricky Williams on a reverse, also something that was normal in this offense. But that's when things changed. Instead of finishing his run, Williams stopped and pitched the ball back to quarterback Chad Pennington, who found running back Patrick Cobb wide open for an 80-yard touchdown. I've rarely seen a defense more confused than the Texans were on that play.
No. 5: The Fake Punt
It was certainly among the biggest plays in the 1972 The Perfect Season and it couldn't have come at a more important time. It was The AFC Championship Game in Pittsburgh and the Dolphins were trailing 7-0 in the second quarter, facing a fourth-and-five at the Steelers 49-yard line. That's when punter Larry Seiple pulled off the biggest play of his football life, faking the punt and then running 37 yards for a first down that set up the game-tying touchdown in a 21-17 victory. Things weren't going the Dolphins way. Something needed to happen in a hurry. Seiple happened, taking that punt and racing down the sideline, the momentum right then and there clearing changing sides of the field. And with the help of that play, perfection lived on.