The Clock Play

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Posted: October 1, 2017


The Fake Spike Game, played on November 27, 1994 has gone into NFL lore as one of the most football games ever. The game is famed for a trick play orchestrated by Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino for a touchdown pass in the dying moments of the game to give the dolphins a 28-24 win over their opponents of the day, the New York Jets. The play, christened the “Clock Play” capped a famous comeback for the Dolphins, who at one point in the game had trailed the Jets by 17 points. The throw itself an 8-yarder was not particularly impressive but it is in contention for one of the storied quarterback’s career highlights.

Buildup to the Clock Play

The two teams were in contention for first place in the AFC East division, with the Dolphins’ 7-4 record giving them the edge over the Jets at 6-5. A win for the Jets would bring them level with the Dolphins while also giving the 6-6 Buffalo Bills a look-in. the Jets had won their previous game against the Minnesota Vikings while the Dolphins had lost back-to-back games to the Bears and the Steelers. The contest seemed evenly poised, with none of the teams looking like favorites for the win.

The Jets started strongly and raced to a 17-0 lead by the first few exchanges of the third quarter. Their first points came through a Mark Ingram touchdown but the Jets added to their lead through a touchdown by Johnny Mitchell. The Jets at this point had the biggest lead of the game 24-8, and seemed to have the game in control. The Dolphins scored another touchdown after Marino passed to Ingram to end the third quarter 24-14. The Jets would not score again, as the Dolphins shored up their defense and sent their offense rallying for a comeback. In the fourth quarter, another Marino-Ingram combination resulted in a touchdown for the Dolphins, which brought them to within three points of the Jets.

With just 38 seconds left, they were still chasing the game, and had the ball at the Jets’ 8-yard line. Marino, looking for an opening nodded to Ingram in the end zone and indicated that he was going to spike the ball in order to stop the clock and allow Miami to take their last timeout. At hearing the signal, the Jets defense relaxed as they waited for the spike. Instead of spiking, Marino dropped back while Ingram peeled off Jets cornerback Aaron Glenn and paced towards the right corner of the end zone. With the Jets having fallen for the fake, and Marino and Ingram both unmarked, Marino threw the pass to Ingram for an easy touchdown to give the Dolphins a 28-24 lead.

Aftermath of the Clock Play

The Jets did not have enough time to work the ball up for a touchdown and this handed the Dolphins the victory. It was later revealed that the play had been suggested by backup quarterback Bernie Kosar specifically for this kind of scenario, and Coach Don Shua had given his team the go-ahead just moments before it happened. The Dolphins finished the season with a 10-6 record and then beat the Kansas City Chiefs in the Wild Card game.

However, the lost to the San Diego Chargers in the divisional playoffs, to bring their season to an end. Meanwhile, the Jets failed to win another game for the rest of the season, and finished outside playoff places. They fired Coach Pete Carroll at the end of the season, but their deterioration continued over the next two seasons, culminating in a franchise worst record of 1-15 in 1996.

Aftermath of the Clock Play

The Jets did not have enough time to work the ball up for a touchdown and this handed the Dolphins the victory. It was later revealed that the play had been suggested by backup quarterback Bernie Kosar specifically for this kind of scenario, and Coach Don Shua had given his team the go-ahead just moments before it happened. The Dolphins finished the season with a 10-6 record and then beat the Kansas City Chiefs in the Wild Card game. However, the lost to the San Diego Chargers in the divisional playoffs, to bring their season to an end. Meanwhile, the Jets failed to win another game for the rest of the season, and finished outside playoff places. They fired Coach Pete Carroll at the end of the season, but their deterioration continued over the next two seasons, culminating in a franchise worst record of 1-15 in 1996.

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