20-Year Phiniversary: Turnovers Spark Dolphins’ Comeback Win Over Broncos

by Mike Ferguson

AP Photo

For the 2001 Miami Dolphins, close games were not the exception but the rule. Throughout the course of that season, Miami rallied from fourth-quarter deficits to win five times.

That includes the victory that took place on this day 20 years ago. Through three quarters, Miami was kept off the scoreboard. In the fourth however, the defense and special teams came through with big plays as the Dolphins rallied from 10 points down to top the Denver Broncos, 21-10.

Setting the Stage

There were major playoff implications as the Dolphins met the Denver Broncos at Pro Player Stadium on Dec. 2, 2001. Miami was 7-3 and looking to remain atop the AFC East.

The Broncos were 6-5 and hoping to score a big road win. Through three quarters, things looked good for Denver.

Turnovers Lead Comeback

A 4-yard toss from Brian Griese to Desmond Clark had served as the game’s only touchdown as the Broncos took a 10-0 lead into the final period. The fourth quarter however, was just more than a minute old when the Dolphins finally found the end zone.

Jay Fiedler’s 11-yard touchdown to Chris Chambers cut the lead to 10-7. Denver looked as though it would answer.

The Broncos reached the Miami 40-yard-line on the ensuing drive, but a second-down pass attempt couldn’t have turned out any worse. Looking for Terrell Davis, Griese was under pressure. As he tried to throw it out to the flat, Dolphins’ defensive end Kenny Mixon was able to stick out his left hand and make a stellar interception.

With no one in front of him, Mixon raced 56 yards for a touchdown to give Miami its first lead of the day. It was 14-10, but things quickly went from bad to worse for the Broncos.

On the ensuing kickoff, returner Chris Cole was popped by Miami’s Jeff Ogden. Cole lost the ball and the Dolphins recovered inside the Denver 10-yard-line. Two plays later, Lamar Smith scored from a yard out to help seal the win.

In Hindsight

The victory guaranteed at least a .500 finish for the Dolphins for a 13th straight season. They finished 11-5 before falling to the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Wild Card game.

Denver would alternate wins and losses over the final four games to finish 8-8. The Broncos held the Dolphins to the fewest yards they would gain all season with 218, but turnovers still helped Miami come away with a win. It came on this day two decades ago.

References

Pro Football Reference

Mike Ferguson is the managing editor for Fifth Quarter. Be sure to follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. Follow all of Mike’s work by liking his Facebook page.

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