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From the “Fake Spike” to the “Miracle in the Meadowlands”, the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets have played some close ones over the years.
On this day 45 years ago however, that was not the case. The Dolphins handed the Jets their worst shutout loss ever at home, 43-0.
Setting the Stage
The Dolphins were 3-1 as they arrived at Shea Stadium on Oct. 19, 1975. Miami had bounced back from a season-opening loss with three straight wins.
New York arrived at 2-3 and with hopes of getting to .500. In one of the worst home games ever played by the Jets, future Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath would have one of the worst games of his career.
A Tail of Two Quarterbacks
The contest featured two Hall of Famers and Super Bowl winners at quarterback, but on that Sunday afternoon in New York, only Bob Griese looked like one. The Miami quarterback was an efficient 10-for-14 passing for 155 yards and three touchdowns. Griese also rushed for a touchdown.
Griese’s scoring strikes went to three different receivers. Nat Moore hauled in a 53-yard touchdown in the second quarter. In the third, Norm Bulaich caught a 2-yard touchdown pass before Jim Mandich was on the receiving end of a 32-yard touchdown later in the quarter.
Griese’s 5-yard touchdown run accounted for all the first quarter offense, but things got ugly quick. Of the 24 passes that Namath threw, 14 were caught. Unfortunately for Namath, six of those were caught by Dolphins.
The six Namath picks led to 24 points for Miami. Curtis Johnson came down with three interceptions for Miami. Charlie Babb, Mike Kolen and Steve Towie also came away with picks. As a team, New York turned the ball over eight times. The Jets managed just 176 total yards to 437 for the Dolphins.
As good as Griese was, the Dolphins did most of their damage on the ground. Miami rushed for 261 yards led by Mercury Morris’ 116. Morris and Don Nottingham each rushed for touchdowns.
A 6-0 game in favor of Miami after a quarter became a 26-0 lead by halftime. By the end of the third, it was 40-0 in favor of the Dolphins. Garo Yepremian’s short field goal in the fourth quarter capped the scoring.
The six interceptions for Namath tied a career-high.
The Dolphins would go on to win the next three games to start 7-1, but dropped three of their final six games to finish 10-4 and miss the playoffs. The Jets won just once more for the remainder of the season to finish 3-11 — their worst-ever finish at the time.
Although the Dolphins were unable to make a sixth straight playoff appearance, they did sweep the Jets. That includes handing New York what is still its worst shutout home loss ever. It happened on this day 45 years ago.