Photo credit: Jon Way/Associated Press/Miami Dolphins
For the Miami Dolphins, the 2006 season was hardly one to remember. In what would be the final of two seasons under head coach Nick Saban, the Dolphins went just 6-10.
The problem that season however, was not the defense. Statistically, Miami ranked in the top five defensively in the NFL and made a ton of plays.
On this day 15 years ago, the Dolphins used two defensive touchdowns in the final quarter to rally past the Minnesota Vikings, 24-20.
Setting the Stage
The Dolphins were just 3-6, but had won consecutive games as they arrived at Dolphin Stadium on Nov. 19, 2006. After stunning the previously-undefeated Chicago Bears, Miami had held off the Kansas City Chiefs the week prior.
At 4-5, the Vikings were looking to get back to .500. Minnesota had started the year 4-2 and was trying to avoid a fourth straight loss.
Defense Saves the Day
Ryan Longwell’s second field goal of the second half gave Minnesota a 13-10 lead in the first minute of the fourth quarter. Three of the next four drives however, would end in turnovers and two of those were returned for Miami touchdowns.
After three straight punts, Miami went ahead for good when Matt Roth was able to strip Minnesota running back Chester Taylor in the backfield. Defensive back Renaldo Hill scooped up the fumble and went 48 yards to put the Dolphins ahead for good. The Dolphins led 17-13, but after an exchange of punts, Minnesota marched into Miami territory looking to take the lead.
With less than four minutes to play, quarterback Brad Johnson tried to set up a screen, but standout defensive end Jason Taylor read it like a book. Taylor was able to reach up and make the interception. Thanks to key blocks from Hill and Jason Allen, the eventual NFL Defensive Player of the Year went 51 yards for the sealing touchdown.
Miami wouldn’t touch the ball again, but it would not matter. Chester Taylor scored his second touchdown for Minnesota on the game’s final play. The lone offensive touchdown for Miami came on a touchdown pass from Joey Harrington to Justin Peelle midway through the second quarter to give the Dolphins a 10-7 lead.
The loss for Minnesota was its fourth straight. The Vikings would go on to finish with a record of 6-10.
For Miami, the victory was a third straight and part of a stretch where it won five out of six games. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, they closed the year on a 3-game losing streak to also finish 6-10.
Throughout the course of the 2006 season, the Dolphins scored three defensive touchdowns. Two of them came in the fourth quarter on this day 15 years ago.