Remembering a seemingly meaningless game between the New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins from 1980.
This weekend, the New York Jets renew their rivalry with the Miami Dolphins for the second and final time in 2017. New York already topped Miami earlier this year by the score of 20-6, so they will be looking for the season series sweep. It will be an interesting game to note whether this young team can be a division rival twice in the same season.
This week’s battle with the Dolphins takes place down in Miami. For the throwback article this week, we go back to another battle between these two that took place in Miami. Both teams were wrapping up difficult seasons and played a game that meant nothing more than bragging rights within the division.
Unless you saw the game on TV.
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The date was December 20, 1980 and it was the final week of the 1980 season. The Jets entered the game in Miami with a record of 3-12 and the Dolphins sat at 8-7.
It was a rough afternoon for Jets quarterback Richard Todd, who went 12-19 for 172 yards but three interceptions. Off of a day like that you would think the Jets lost, but not so fast.
The first quarter went back and forth, with a David Woodley touchdown pass to Duriel Harris putting the Dolphins up by the score of 10-7. However, a Scott Dierking one yard touchdown run, his first of two on the day, put the Jets up 14-10 at the half and ahead is where they stayed.
A Darrol Ray 71 yard pick six put the game out of reach for the Dolphins and the Jets finished off the year with a record of 4-12, dropping the Dolphins to 8-8. Scott Dierking led the rushing attack with 75 yards on 19 carries and his two touchdowns.
So you might be wondering why we decided on this particular game to remember. It’s a game at the end of a season between two teams that didn’t make a lot of noise that year. Why do we care? What’s the big deal? Take a look at the video, turn up the sound, and you will learn why. You don’t have to watch the entire thing, just a few minutes….
OK the title of the video gave it away, but there were no broadcasters. The PA announcer was instructed to kick up his announcements a bit, but there was no play by play and no commentary either. Here are Bryant Gumbel’s first and only words before the NBC experiment began:
"“We are just moments away from the kickoff of today’s Jets-Dolphins game and a telecast that figures to be different. The fact that we try something different and dare to has been greeted with almost every kind of reaction, from good-natured humor to applause to some surprising anger.”"
The network wanted to try something different to get a few more ratings points out of an otherwise insignificant game. It was the first and only time they did it, to give some perspective. But, it leaves an interesting memory.