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Encyclopedia > The Epic in Miami

The Epic In Miami is the name given to a National Football League AFC divisional playoff game between the San Diego Chargers and the Miami Dolphins that took place on January 2, 1982 in the Miami Orange Bowl. The game is considered one of the best games ever in NFL history and is one of the most famous in NFL Lore, due to the conditions on the field, the performances of players on both teams, and the numerous records that were set. The National Football League (NFL) is the largest professional American football league, consisting of thirty-two teams from American cities and regions. ... The NFL playoffs for the 1981-82 season led up to Super Bowl XVI. // Wild card round December 27, 1981 AFC: Buffalo Bills 31, New York Jets 27 at Shea Stadium, New York City The Bills jumped to a 24-0, but needed Bill Simpsons interception at their own... City San Diego, California Other nicknames Bolts, Super Chargers Team colors Navy Blue, White, and Gold Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer Owner Alex Spanos George Pernicano (Minority owner (3%)) General manager A.J. Smith Fight song San Diego Super Chargers Local radio Flagship stations: KIOZ (105. ... City Miami Gardens, Florida Other nicknames The Fins Team colors Aqua Green, Coral Orange, Navy Blue, and White Head Coach Nick Saban Owner Wayne Huizenga General manager Randy Mueller Mascot T. D. Local radio Flagship stations: WAXY (790 AM) and WNMA (1210 AM) -Spanish Announcers: Jimmy Cefalo and Joe Rose... January 2 is the second day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1982 (MCMLXXXII) was a common year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar. ... The Miami Orange Bowl is a stadium in the City of Miami, Florida, near downtown. ... Since the National Football League was founded in 1920, it has grown from an informal network of teams based mostly in small towns and cities into the most popular and successful sports league in the United States. ...

Contents


Background

The Dolphins finished the 1981 regular season by winning the AFC eastern conference with an 11-4-1 record. Their offense was led by quarterbacks David Woodley and Don Strock. Woodley had a rather mediocre year, throwing for only 2,470 yards and 12 touchdowns, with 13 interceptions, but he was a good scrambler, gaining 272 yards and 4 touchdowns on the ground. Strock was widely considered to be one of the best reserve quarterbacks in the league and had played in all 16 regular season games. Receivers Jimmy Cefalo(29 receptions, 631 yards, 3 touchdowns) and Duriel Harris (53 receptions, 911 yards, 2 touchdowns) provided the main deep threat on the team. Halfback Tony Nathan was the top rusher on the Dolphins with 782 yards on just 147 carries, giving him a league leading 5.3 yards per carry average, while also catching 50 passes for 432 yards, and scoring 8 touchdowns. Fullback Andra Franklin provided the team with great blocking, and he was also a good ball carrier, rushing for 711 yards and 7 touchdowns. Miami’s offensive line was anchored by pro bowler Ed Newman and center Dwight Stephenson. David Woodley (October 25, 1958 – May 6, 2003) was an American football player, playing quarterback for Louisiana State University (LSU) and the NFLs Miami Dolphins. ... Don Strock (born November 27, 1950 in Pottstown, Pennsylvania) is a college football coach and former player who is the current head coach of the Florida International University football team. ... James Carmen Cefalo (born October 6, 1956 in Pittston, Pennsylvania) is an American sportscaster, game show host and former professional American football wide receiver. ... Tony Nathan was born in 1956. ... Dwight Stephenson is a former Miami Dolphins offensive lineman and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fames class of 1998. ...


Miami’s defense ranked 5th in the NFL in fewest points allowed(275). Pro Bowl defensive tackle Bob Baumhower anchored the line, while linebackers A. J. Duhe and Ernie Rhone excelled at blitzing and pass coverage, combining for 4 interceptions. The Dolphins secondary, consisting of Mike Kozlowski, Fulton Walker, and bothers Lyle and Glenn Blackwood, was also extremely talented. Bob Baumhower was an American Football Player who competed for the University of Alabama in college and for the Miami Dolphins in the NFL. Playing as a Defensive Linemen, he was a 2 time second team All American in college and a 5 time Pro-Bowl selection as a Pro. ...


San Diego finished the season with a 10-6 record. The Chargers high-powered offense led the NFL in scoring(478 points), passing yards(4,873), and total yards(6,878). Quarterback Dan Fouts made the pro bowl for the third year in a row, completing 360 of 609 passes for 4,807 yards and 33 touchdowns, with only 17 interceptions. His favorite targets were receivers Charlie Joiner(70 receptions, 1,188 yards, 7 touchdowns) and Wes Chandler(52 receptions, 857 yards, 5 touchdowns), along with pro bowl tight end Kellen Winslow(88 receptions, 1,070 yards, 10 touchdowns). San Diego also had an outstanding rushing attack led by pro bowl running back Chuck Muncie, who rushed for 1,144 yards and a league leading 19 touchdowns, while also catching 46 passes for 362 yards. Rookie running back James Brooks was also a major contributor, rushing for 525 yards, catching 46 passes for 329 yards, and adding another 1,239 yards returning punts and kickoffs. Up front, their line was anchored by pro bowl guard Doug Wilkerson. Daniel Francis Fouts (born June 10, 1951 in San Francisco, California) was an American football quarterback in the National Football League for the San Diego Chargers from 1973 through 1987. ... Charles Joiner Jr. ... Kellen Boswell Winslow (born 1957 in St. ... Muncie on the January 12, 1981 cover of Sports Illustrated Harry Vance Chuck Muncie (born March 17, 1953 in Uniontown, Pennsylvania) is a former American football running back who played for the New Orleans Saints and San Diego Chargers in the National Football League from 1976 to 1984. ... James L. Brooks (born May 9, 1940) is a Hollywood producer, writer, and film director. ...


However, San Diego's defense had big problems, ranking only 26th in the league(at the time there were only 28 teams) in points allowed(390) and 27th in total yards allowed(6,520). Not a single player from the Chargers defense made the pro bowl. One of the few bright spots on their defense was defensive back Willie Buchanon, who led the team with 5 interceptions. Willie Buchanon (born in San Diego) was a graduate of Oceanside High School and San Diego State University and was a cornerback for the Green Bay Packers and was defensive rookie of the year in 1972 and a three-time Pro Bowl Player. ...


The Game

The temperature was 85°F at the Miami Orange Bowl when both teams took the field for the AFC divisional game, but in the first quarter it was only the Dolphins who would be feeling the heat.


San Diego started out the game by marching down the field on the opening drive and scoring with kicker Rolf Benirschke's 32-yard field goal. The Chargers defense then forced Miami to punt on their ensuing possession, and receiver Wes Chandler returned the ball 56 yards for a touchdown, increasing his team's lead to 10-0. Then on the ensuing kickoff, the Chargers caught another break when the ball surprisingly bounced back in their direction and was recovered by San Diego. Several plays later, Chuck Muncie scored on a 1-yard touchdown run. Then on the Dolphins next drive, David Woodley was intercepted by Chargers safety Glen Edwards, who returned the ball 35 yards, setting up Dan Fouts' 8-yard touchdown pass to James Brooks. By the time the first quarter ended, San Diego had a commanding 24-0 lead. It looked like the outcome of the game was already decided. // About Rolf Born in 1955, Rolf Benirschke was a kicker in the National Football League for the San Diego Chargers from 1978 to 1987 who played from 1980 to 1986. ... Muncie on the January 12, 1981 cover of Sports Illustrated Harry Vance Chuck Muncie (born March 17, 1953 in Uniontown, Pennsylvania) is a former American football running back who played for the New Orleans Saints and San Diego Chargers in the National Football League from 1976 to 1984. ... David Woodley (October 25, 1958 – May 6, 2003) was an American football player, playing quarterback for Louisiana State University (LSU) and the NFLs Miami Dolphins. ... Glen Edwards (March 5, 1918–June 5, 1948) was born in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada where he lived until 1931, when his parents moved the family to Lincoln, California. ... Daniel Francis Fouts (born June 10, 1951 in San Francisco, California) was an American football quarterback in the National Football League for the San Diego Chargers from 1973 through 1987. ... James L. Brooks (born May 9, 1940) is a Hollywood producer, writer, and film director. ...


But the Dolphins didn't give up. Coach Don Shula replaced Woodley with Don Strock early in the second quarter to see if he could spark Miami's offense, and that's precisely what he did, leading them down the field to score their first points of game on a 34-yard field goal from Uwe von Schamann. This seemed to fire up the Dolphins defense, who forced and recovered a fumble from San Diego on the ensuing drive, giving the ball back to the offense with great field position on the Chargers 39-yard line. Several plays later, Strock converted the turnover into points with a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Joe Rose, cutting their deficit to 24-10. Later in the quarter, San Diego faced a fourth down on the Dolphins 37-yard line. The Chargers decided to send in Benirschke to attempt a 55-yard field goal, but he missed, giving the ball back to the Dolphins near midfield. 3 plays later, the Dolphins moved the ball to San Diego's 40-yard line with only 6 seconds left in the quarter and attempted one last play to score before halftime. Strock took the snap and threw a pass intended for Duriel Harris at the 20-yard line. Harris caught the ball and immediately lateralled it to Tony Nathan, who then took it 25-yards to the end zone, cutting the deficit to 24-17 at halftime. Shula was the 1993 Sportsman of the Year Donald Francis Shula (born January 4, 1930 in Grand River, Ohio) is an American former professional football coach in the National Football League. ... Don Strock (born November 27, 1950 in Pottstown, Pennsylvania) is a college football coach and former player who is the current head coach of the Florida International University football team. ... Joe Rose is probabily most well known for playing troy sloppy joe guy in the hit tv show scrubs, he along with the janitor atempt to make JDs life a living hell. ... Tony Nathan was born in 1956. ...


The Dolphins momentum continued into the next quarter. Early in the third period, Strock led the Dolphins 74 yards down the field and finished the drive with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Rose, tying the game at 24. But this time, San Diego managed to counter with a score of their own. Fouts led the Chargers 60 yards in 6 plays, scoring on a 25-yard touchdown pass to Kellen Winslow to regain the lead. However, Miami stormed right back with Strock completing 6 consecutive passes, the last one a 50-yard scoring strike to receiver Bruce Hardy, tying the game again at 31. Kellen Boswell Winslow (born 1957 in St. ...


With less then a minute left in the third period, Lyle Blackwood intercepted a pass from Fouts and returned it 8 yards to the Chargers 15-yard line, setting up Nathan's 12-yard touchdown run of the first play of the fourth quarter and giving Miami their first lead of the game. Later in the quarter, with Miami just trying to maintain their lead and run out the clock, Chargers safety Pete Shaw recovered a fumble on San Diego's 18-yard line with 4:39 left in regulation. Fouts then led his team down to Miami's 9-yard line. With only 58 seconds left in the game, a heavy Dolphins pass rush forced Fouts to throw a blind pass intended for Winslow in the end zone. The pass sailed over Winslow's head, but went right into the arms of Brooks for a touchdown to tie the game.


Miami took over on their own 40-yard line following Benirschke's squib kick, needing only a field goal to win. Strock then led the Dolphins to the Chargers 26-yard line where Von Schamann attempted a 43-yard field goal, but at the last second, Winslow broke through the Dolphins offensive line and blocked the kick, sending the game into overtime. A Squib kick is a term used in American football to describe a short, low, line drive kickoff that usually bounces around on the ground before it can be picked up by a member of the receiving team. ...


With the players of both teams exhausted and dehydrated, everyone was hoping for a quick end in the extra period, but that would not be the case. San Diego won the coin toss and marched down to the field, driving inside the Dolphins 10-yard line. Benirschke then attempted a game winning 27-yard field goal, but a bad snap and poor hold threw off his timing and the kick sailed wide left. Miami then drove deep into Chargers territory, setting up a 34-yard field goal attempt for Von Schamann, but his kick was low, and defensive lineman Leroy Jones managed to leap in the air and block it. Leroy Jones is a jazz trumpeter from New Orleans, Louisiana. ...


San Diego took over at their own 16-yard line after the blocked field goal. Aided by a pair of receptions by Charlie Joiner for gains of 20 and 29 yards, Fouts led his team 74 yards to Miami's 10-yard line, where Benirschke attempted a 29-yard field goal. This time, his kick was good, giving the Chargers a 41-38 win after 13 minutes and 52 seconds of overtime play. Charles Joiner Jr. ...


“I have coached for 31 or 32 years and this is tremendous,” said Chargers coach Don Coryell after the game. “There has never been a game like this. It was probably the most exciting game in pro football history.” [1] Don Coryell (born October 17, 1924) is a former American football coach, who coached in the NFL first with the St. ...


Shula agreed: “A great game,” said the Dolphins head coach, despite being on the losing end. “Maybe the greatest ever.”[2]


However many of the players were less then jubilant. According to Chargers running back Hank Bauer, "The locker-room celebration was more low key than other locker rooms I’d been in. It was more of “Thank God that’s over. Thank God we got out alive.”[3] Henry Albert Hank Bauer (born July 31, 1922 in East St. ...


Records and Individual Performances

The game featured many new records set and incredible performances by players both teams. By the time it was over, the Miami and San Diego set playoff records for the most points scored in a playoff game (79), the most total yards by both teams (1,036), and most passing yards by both teams (809).


Strock had the best single game performance of his life, completing 29 of 43 passes for 403 yards and 4 touchdowns. Harris caught 6 passes for 106 yards. Nathan rushed for 48 yards, caught 9 passes for 114 yards, and scored 2 touchdowns. Hardy caught 5 passes for 89 yards and a touchdown.


Fouts finished the game with 33 of 53 completions for a franchise record 443 yards and 3 touchdowns. His attempts, completions, and passing yards were all NFL postseason records. Joiner caught 7 passes for 108 yards. Muncie rushed for 124 yards and a touchdown. In addition to his 56-yard punt return touchdown, Chandler caught 6 passes for 106 yards. Brooks recorded 143 all-purpose yards (19 rushing, 31 receiving, 85 kickoff return, 8 punt return) and a pair of touchdown catches


But perhaps the best performance of the game was put in by Kellen Winslow. In addition to his blocked field goal, he recorded an NFL playoff record 13 receptions for 166 yards and a touchdown, despite suffering numerous injuries. During the contest, he was treated for a pinched nerve in his shoulder, dehydration, severe cramps, and received three stitches in his lower lip. A picture of an exhausted Winslow being helped off the field by two teammates(shown here) after the game is an enduring image in NFL Lore and has been replayed constantly ever since. Since the National Football League was founded in 1920, it has grown from an informal network of teams based mostly in small towns and cities into the most popular and successful sports league in the United States. ...


Aftermath

San Diego Chargers

One week after their victory over the Dolphins in Florida's scorching heat, the Chargers traveled to Cincinnati to face the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC championship game in the coldest game in NFL history based on the wind chill. The air temperature was -9 degrees Fahrenheit (-23 °C), and wind chill was -59 °F (-51 °C). This ended up being another famous game in NFL Lore, and has since became known as the Freezer Bowl. But this time, it did not end well for the Chargers. The Bengals crushed San Diego 27-7, eliminating their hopes for a Super Bowl. City Cincinnati, Ohio Team colors Black, Orange and White Head Coach Marvin Lewis Owner Mike Brown Mascot Who Dey Local radio Flagship stations: WSAI (1360 AM), WLW (700 AM), and WOFX (92. ... Since the National Football League was founded in 1920, it has grown from an informal network of teams based mostly in small towns and cities into the most popular and successful sports league in the United States. ... The Freezer Bowl was the 1982 AFC Championship Game between the San Diego Chargers and Cincinnati Bengals. ...


The following season(which was shortened to 9 games because of a players strike), Fouts led the Chargers to a 6-3 record and back to the divisional playoffs with a 31-28 wildcard win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, throwing for 333 yards and 3 touchdowns with no interceptions. But this time, they could not make it to the AFC title game, losing a divisional game to the Dolphins 34-13. City Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Team colors Black and Gold Head Coach Bill Cowher Owner Dan Rooney Local radio Flagship stations: WDVE (102. ...


The loss to Miami in the playoffs after the 1983 season was the last postseason game that Fouts, Winslow, Joiner, and coach Coryell would ever participate in, as the Chargers did not record a winning record again until 1992. Fouts, Winslow and Joiner all went on to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but they never got to play in a Super Bowl. The only significant contributor in the "Epic in Miami" who did go to a Super Bowl was Brooks, made it to Super Bowl XXIII as a member of the Bengals. The Pro Football Hall of Fame is technically the National Football Leagues Hall of Fame. ... Date January 22, 1989 Stadium Joe Robbie Stadium City Miami, Florida MVP Jerry Rice, Wide receiver Favorite 49ers by 7 National anthem Billy Joel Coin toss Nick Buoniconti, Bob Griese, and Larry Little Referee Jerry Seeman Halftime show Be Bop Bamboozled - South Florida-area dancers and performers, and 3-D...


Miami Dolphins

Woodley recovered from his poor performance in the Epic in Miami and regained his position as the Dolphins starting quarterback in the following season. He then led Miami to a 7-2 record and 3 playoff wins to earn his team a championship appearance in Super Bowl XVIII. One of the playoff wins was a 34-13 divisional win against the Chargers, avenging their loss from the previous season. This time, Woodley was a key contributor for his team, completing 17 of 22 passes for 195 yards and 2 touchdowns, with 1 interception, while also rushing for 14 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Miami's defense also dominated Fouts, limiting him to 15 of 34 completions and intercepting him 5 times. However, Miami ended up losing Super Bowl XVII to the Washington Redskins, 27-17. With the exception of a 76-yard touchdown pass to Cefalo in the first quarter, Woodley had a fairly poor performance, completing only 4 of 14 passes for 97 yards and 1 touchdown, with 1 interception. Date January 22, 1984 Stadium Tampa Stadium City Tampa, Florida MVP Marcus Allen, Running back Favorite Redskins by 2 1/2 National anthem Barry Manilow Coin toss Bronko Nagurski Referee Gene Barth Halftime show Salute to Superstars of the Silver Screen with the University of Florida and Florida State University... City Landover, Maryland Other nicknames The Skins Team colors Burgundy and Gold Head Coach Joe Gibbs Owner Daniel Snyder General manager Vinny Cerrato Fight song Hail to the Redskins Local radio Flagship stations: WJFK 106. ...


The following season, Woodley lost his starting spot to Dan Marino. He then joined the Steelers in 1984 and spent the rest of his career as a backup before retiring after the 1985 season. Strock's incredible performance in the Epic in Miami ended up being the main highlight of his career. He spent the rest of it as a backup and retired after 1988. Daniel Constantine Marino Jr. ...


Miami made it back to the Super Bowl in the 1984, with Marino breaking nearly every NFL single season passing record, but they lost Super Bowl XIX to the San Francisco 49ers 38-16. None of the primary players in the Epic in Miami ever won a Super Bowl ring, but 2 participants, coach Shula and center Dwight Stephenson went on to be enshrined in the hall of fame. Date January 20, 1985 Stadium Stanford Stadium City Stanford, California MVP Joe Montana, Quarterback Favorite 49ers by 3 National anthem Childrens Choir of Los Angeles Coin toss Ronald Reagan (via satellite from the White House) and Hugh McElhenny Referee Pat Haggerty Halftime show World of Childrens Dreams with... City San Francisco, California Other nicknames Niners Team colors Cardinal Red, Metallic Gold and Black Head Coach Mike Nolan Owner Denise DeBartolo York and John York General manager none Mascot Sourdough Sam Local radio Flagship stations: KNBR (680 AM & 1050 AM) and KSAN (107. ... Dwight Stephenson is a former Miami Dolphins offensive lineman and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fames class of 1998. ...


See Also

  • NFL playoffs, 1981-82

Since the National Football League was founded in 1920, it has grown from an informal network of teams based mostly in small towns and cities into the most popular and successful sports league in the United States. ... The NFL playoffs for the 1981-82 season led up to Super Bowl XVI. // Wild card round December 27, 1981 AFC: Buffalo Bills 31, New York Jets 27 at Shea Stadium, New York City The Bills jumped to a 24-0, but needed Bill Simpsons interception at their own...

Reference

External Links

  • Chargers-stats.com's story on the game, contains many quotes and interviews, and a detailed recap
  • story on the game from the Chargers official website
  • pro football hall of fame stroy on the game, includes the complete box score

 
 

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