Fake Spike Game

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Yep, relive the horror.
The Fake Spike Game was one of the worst games in the history of the New York Jets, in the way they lost it, and for the effect it would have on the team, sending them into a nose dive that would last almost 3 years. The date, November 27, 1994. The venue, the Meadowlands. The villain, Dan Marino and his evil Miami Dolphins.

Contents

Background to the game

The 1994 season had been a promising one for the Jets, it was Pete Carroll's first season as head coach, and the Jets were having a good season. They were 6-5, and playing the 7-4 Dolphins for a share of the lead in the AFC East. The Jets were hot, having won four of their previous six games, and looking to maintain theiur momentum.

The Game

First half

The crowd were loud early in the game, forcing Marino to call a pair of timeouts, and the Dolphins sputtered early on. Brian Washington Washington had a fumble recovery and an interception. The Jets on the other hand, started well, taking a 3-0 lead in the first quarter on a 24 yard Nick Lowery field goal. Boomer Esiason showed he was on form. He connected with Johnny Mitchell for a 30 yard touchdown after Mitchell had dropped the first ball of the game thrown to him. The half time score was Jets 10, Dolphins 0.

Third Quarter

The second half carried on where the first left off, with Esiason throwing a 69-yard pass to Art Monk that led to the Jets' second touchdown, a 3 yard run by Brad Baxter. The Dolphins finally got on the score sheet when Mark Ingram caught a 10 yard fass from Marino, but the Dolphins failed to convert the two point conversion. Esiason then hit Mitchell for his second touchdown pass, this one for 14 yards. The Jets now led 24-6. But the momentum had changed, and Marino started marching the Dolphins down the field one time after another. Marino connected with Ingram again (17 yards), and with the two pointer successiul this time, the teams went into the fourth quarter with the Jets up, 24-14.

Fourth Quarter

Esiason managed to scramble for a first down, but right after that, he threw an interception. Two minutes later, Marino and Ingram made it 24-21, with the quarterback connecting on five straight passes as he took the Dolphins downfield. The Jets weren't done, and started dribing downfiueld again, until Esiason started getting hit. He fumbled on first down, when hit by lineman Tim Bowens while trying to hand off. The Jets recovered 7 yards behind the line of scrimmage. On the next play, Bowens sacked him and Esiason fumbled again, with the ball once again recovered by the Jets, this time for an 8-yard loss. And on third down, he was sacked by Bryan Cox, fumbled again, and lost 9 yards as the Jets recovered one more time.

The Jets, though, got a break on the next play. This time it was the Dolphins who fumbled -- on a punt return. James Thornton recovered for the Jets, who seemed ready to weather the storm with less than six minutes to go in the game and the ball on the Miami 38. But the Jets handed the ball right back, with Esiason being picked off by J. B. Brown two plays later. The Jets' defense actually stiffened, and the Dolphins punted. But the Jets couldn't get a first down, and with 2:34 remaining, Miami got the ball back at its 16.

From there, it took 132 seconds for Marino to find Ingram in the end zone for the fourth time.

The Fake Spike

Ingram's catch
With less than 30 seconds to go, the Dolphins had moved all the way down to the Jets' 8 yard line. Marino motioned as if he was going to spike the ball, looking at Mark Ingram and calling out "Clock, Clock, Clock". He went under center, took the snap, pumped a fake spike to the ground and threw to a wide open Ingram. Aaron Glenn, who would have been covering Ingram fell for it. The stadium was silent, 22 seconds from victory and now this. Stoyanovich's PAT made it 28-24. The Jets weren't totally done though. They still had a chance. They made it all the wat down to the Miami 35, and on the final play of the game, Esiason threw a desperation pass but it sailed 10 yards behind the end zone.

The aftermath

The Jets, instead of being 7-5 and sharing the division lead, fell to 6-6, and two games out. But the effect on the team was worse. "A staggering defeat," moaned Pete Carroll. "We should have put this game away so many times." Esiason was more bullish, predicting "I guarantee you we'll be back next week against the Patriots, this team will not collapse." But collapse they did, and spectacularly at that. They lost to the Patriots the following week, 24-13, and ended up losing all of their remaining games that season, sliding to a 6-10 record and finishing bottom of the division. Carroll got the boot, and his replacement? None other than Rich Kotite. The Jets would end up with a record of 4-33 from that game until the arrival of Bill Parcells.

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