- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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ESPN.com's NFL Nation produced an interesting project on the NFL greatest plays last week. The list was divided by all 32 franchises and opened the vote to each fan base.
The process of narrowing it down to three choices was difficult for the Miami Dolphins. This is a team that won two Super Bowls and also had many great years under Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino in the 1980s and 1990s.
Here are honorable mentions that didn’t make the cut:
Marino had many great touchdown throws throughout his career (420 total). But one play that nearly made the cut was his odd, 42-yard touchdown throw in 1985 to receiver Mark Clayton to beat the eventual Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears. Marino’s pass deflected off Bears defensive lineman Dan Hampton and into the hands of Clayton, as Miami won 38-17 and became the only team to beat Chicago that year. Chicago’s defense had several Hall of Famers and was arguably the greatest defense of all-time. The Bears’ offense also was highlighted by Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton. Yet, Marino was too much for Chicago.
In 2008, former Dolphins tailback Ronnie Brown unleashed the Wildcat formation and threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to tight end Anthony Fasano to upset the New England Patriots. The win set the tone for Miami’s run to the AFC East title and its most recent playoff appearance. The play also had significance in that it briefly started a new trend in the NFL. Many teams later adopted a Wildcat package into their offense. The trend went strong for a few years before defenses caught up.
How did the Dolphins get their start? Joe Auer returned the opening kickoff for a 95-yard touchdown on the first play in franchise history. The reason it didn’t make the final three was because it didn’t have enough significance. Auer’s play happened in the regular-season opener and during 23-14 loss to the Oakland Raiders.
Who can forget Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Leon Lett? In a nationally televised game in the snow on Thanksgiving in 1993, Lett gift wrapped a victory for Miami with his unnecessary attempt to pick up a blocked field goal to keep the game going in the final seconds. The game continued after the Dolphins recovered and made their second field goal attempt to win the game. Lett had a penchant for several mind-numbing plays in his career. This was one example where the Dolphins were able to take advantage.
But this is only a sample of memorable Dolphins plays that didn't make last week's list. Share your thoughts on other plays in the comments section below.