Over the years, the Miami Dolphins and Seattle Seahawks have played some memorable games, including three playoff match-ups.
The final meeting where both were members of the AFC however, came on this day 20 years. A late touchdown and a missed field goal were the difference as the Dolphins prevailed on the road, 24-20.
Setting the Stage
Fresh off a division title in 2001, the Miami Dolphins were looking to stay above .500 as they arrived at Husky Stadium on Oct. 28, 2001. After a 2-0 start, Miami had lost two of three and was looking to avoid falling to 3-3.
Seattle was also 3-2 as it arrived for the contest. The Seahawks had won two straight games and held the lead in the final quarter.
The Decisive Moments
Lamar Smith’s 1-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter for Miami tied the game at 17, but the first points in the final quarter belonged to the Seahawks. With less than nine minutes to go in the contest, Rian Lindell kicked a 42-yard field goal to give Seattle a 20-17, but that was short-lived.
It took the Dolphins less than two and a half minutes to answer. Quarterback Jay Fiedler threw just three passes on the ensuing drive, but all were complete and they covered 66 yards.
Two plays after a 21-yard completion to Chris Chambers moved Miami into Seattle territory, Fiedler put the Dolphins ahead for good with a beautiful 39-yard touchdown strike to James McKnight. Lindell and McKnight had each given their respective teams the lead in the final quarter, but each committed costly mistakes late.
Seattle punted on its next series, but Miami gave the ball right back. Fiedler found McKnight for what appeared to be a critical conversion on third down, but McKnight fumbled the ball and Reggie Tongue returned it 23 yards to the Miami 23-yard-line with less than four minutes to play.
The Dolphins stood tall defensively and forced Seattle to make a decision. With the ball at the Dolphins’ 10, two minutes remaining and all three timeouts, Seattle elected to kick a field goal and cut the lead to one. Lindell’s 28-yard attempt however, was no good and the Dolphins took over.
Hoping to get the ball back once more, the Seahawks utilized their timeouts. On 3rd-and-13 however, Fiedler scrambled for 16 yards to seal the victory.
After a scoreless first quarter, the first 10 points belonged to the Dolphins. An Olindo Mare field goal was followed by a recovery in the end zone by running back Travis Minor following a Fiedler scramble.
The next 17 points however, belonged to Seattle.
Matt Hasselbeck, who passed for 230 yards, threw touchdown passes to Itula Mili and Darrell Jackson before the second quarter was over to give the Seahawks a 14-10 lead. Lindell’s 36-yard field goal midway through the third quarter pushed the lead to seven.
Seattle held the advantage in total yardage, 302-289, and committed two turnovers to Miami’s four, but it was not enough. Fiedler passed for 213 yards and a touchdown, but was also intercepted twice by Willie Williams. He was also Miami’s leading rusher with 41 yards.
When it came to receiving, McKnight and Jackson each had nice games for their respective teams. McKnight led the Dolphins with eight catches for 94 yards while Jackson caught five passes for a game-high 121 yards. Terry Cousin recorded 12 tackles and a forced fumble for the Miami defense.
Looking back, the victory for the Dolphins proved to be a big one. It was the difference between 10-6 and 11-5 for Miami and the difference between 10-6 and 9-7 for Seattle.
The Dolphins would go on to make the playoffs for the fifth straight year, but were eliminated by the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Wild Card game. Seattle missed the playoffs for the second straight year.
For the Seahawks, the loss was just one of two at home all season long. It came on this day two decades ago.