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The Miami Dolphins haven’t been to the playoffs since 2016. That year, Miami finished 10-6 and had a number of memorable moments.
One of those took place on this day five years ago. With the contest tied and the San Diego Chargers driving to win, linebacker Kiko Alonso returned an interception 60 yards for a touchdown to lift the Dolphins to a 31-24 win.
Setting the Stage
After a 1-4 start, the Miami Dolphins had won three straight games as they arrived at San Diego County Credit Union Stadium on Nov. 13, 2016. Miami was looking to creep over .500 for the first time.
The Chargers were looking to get to .500 as they arrived with a 4-5 record. As time ticked away, they were in position to do just that.
Alonso Saves the Day
After San Diego took a 24-21 lead on a 51-yard touchdown pass from Philip Rivers to Tyrell Williams with just over four minutes to play, the Dolphins responded with a big play of their own. On the first play of the ensuing drive, Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill hit DeVante Parker for 56 yards to the San Diego 10-yard-line.
Unfortunately for the Dolphins, the drive would stall. With under three minutes to play, they were forced to settle for tying field goal from Andrew Franks.
Needing just a field goal to win, the Chargers started the next march by putting the ball into the hands of running back Melvin Gordon. After two runs to start the drive, Gordon hauled in a 20-yard reception from Rivers. That put the ball at the Miami 42-yard-line with less than two minutes to go.
The Chargers approached field goal range, but Rivers made a critical mistake. Rivers fired over the middle, but never saw Alonso dropping into coverage. The Miami linebacker was able to break on the football and take it 60 yards for the go-ahead score.
Down 31-24, San Diego would get one more possession, but the result was the same. On the second play, Tony Lippett came down with his second interception of the day and the fourth for the Dolphins. That sealed the win.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Chargers scored the game’s first 10 points. Rivers followed a Josh Lambo field goal with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Gates.
Tannehill’s 39-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Stills cut the lead to three before halftime. Damien Williams scored two touchdowns for Miami in the third quarter — one rushing and one receiving. In between those scores was a 7-yard touchdown pass from Rivers to Hunter Henry.
The Dolphins took a 21-17 lead into the final quarter.
Tannehill passed for 240 yards in the victory while Parker led Miami with 103 yards receiving. Rivers threw for 326 yards and the three scores, but the picks proved costly.
In addition to Lippett’s two and Alonso’s game-winner, Byron Maxwell also recorded an interception for the Dolphins. Tyrell Williams led all receivers with 125 yards.
The Chargers would win just once more following the loss to the Dolphins, finishing the season with a record of 5-11.
The victory put Miami over .500 for the first time and it would never fall below. That winning streak for the Dolphins would ultimately reach six before a loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
The Dolphins finished 10-6 before losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Wild Card game. One of the most memorable moments from that season was Alonso’s game-winning interception return for a score, which came on this day five years ago.