Saturday marked the 38-year anniversary of one of the most bizarre moments in a game involving the Miami Dolphins, a game that's now famous as the "Snowplow Game."
For Dolphins fans unaware, it was Dec. 12, 1982 when they faced the New England Patriots at Schaefer Stadium in the sixth game of the strike-shortened season.
As sometimes happens in that part of the country at this time of year, it was a snowy and windy day in Massachusetts and the conditions made it extremely difficult for either team to generate much offense.
As proof, the Dolphins and Patriots combined for a mere 89 gross passing yards, including only 13 for New England.
But the Dolphins ended up losing that game 3-0 when Patriots kicker John Smith kicked a 33-yard field goal with 4:10 left in the fourth quarter. The kick, of course, came after a prisoner out on work release named Mark Henderson drove a snowplow onto the field — upon the orders of Patriots head coach Ron Meyer — to clear a spot for Smith.
It is not the only unusual game or moment in Dolphins history when a normal game took an unexpected twist, and we count down the top 10 that stand out from his vantage point.
Note that this list does not include unusual plays because those belong in a different category.
10. The coldest game — 2008
Our first game on the list features the franchise the Dolphins will face Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs. The Dolphins were trying to close out their improbable run to the AFC East title one year after finishing 1-15 when they traveled to Kansas City, where they were greeted by 10-degree temperatures with a wind chill of minus-12. It stands to this day as the coldest game in Dolphins history, but it didn't matter because the offense was on fire all game, paving the way for a 38-31 victory.
9. Going orange — 2003
The Dolphins' Sunday night victory against Washington the week before Thanksgiving 2003 featured a brilliant comeback engineered by Jay Fiedler in his return from injury, but what made the game noteworthy were the orange jerseys the Dolphins came out wearing. It was the first time in franchise history they had worn a jersey any color other than white or aqua.
8. Bryan Cox takes on the Cincinnati sideline — 1991
This moment came back in light of what happened last week between the Dolphins and the same Bengals organization. In that instance 29 years ago, Cox was sticking up for kicker Pete Stoyanovich after he was blindsided by linebacker Alex Gordon after he kicked off with the Dolphins leading 20-6 late in the third quarter of a Monday night game. The hit was cheap, though not illegal, but then Bengals safety David Fulcher made matters worse when he gave Gordon a high-five on the sideline. As it turned out, only Cox was penalized on the play.
7. The John Lennon announcement game — 1980
The 40th anniversary of that Monday night game also came this week. The Dolphins defeated the Patriots 16-13 in overtime in a Monday night game at the Orange Bowl on Dec. 8, 1980, but the game forever will be remembered for ABC color commentator Howard Cosell telling viewers — before the Dolphins blocked a potential last-second game-winning field goal attempt by the same John Smith of the Snowplow Game — that Beatles member John Lennon had been assassinated in New York. It was a big enough event that a documentary was produced on the decision to go forward with the announcement during an NFL telecast.
6. The first London game — 2007
There was absolutely nothing noteworthy that happened during the Dolphins' 17-7 loss against the New York Giants in October 2007 that dropped them to 0-8 on the season. This was all about where it happened. The game was played at Wembley Stadium, marking the first NFL regular season game played outside North America.
5. 'Monday Night Mud' — 2007
A little more than a month after the London game, the Dolphins were scheduled for a Monday night game at Heinz Field. The only problem was that Heinz Field hosted four high school championship games on Friday and a University of Pittsburgh game on Saturday before the decision was made to re-sod the field Sunday. The problem was that it rained throughout Sunday and Monday, leaving the field a muddy mess. Perhaps Dolphins fans remember a Brandon Fields punt that literally stuck into the ground at its point of landing. The Dolphins lost the game 3-0, the same score as the Snowplow Game. Of course, this game was similar to the "Mud Bowl" when the Dolphins defeated the New York Jets at the Orange Bowl in the 1982 AFC Championship Game, but we didn't include that game on this list because of the stakes and the game being more significant than unusual.
4. The Silent Bowl — 1980
Here's another game against the Jets, and there was nothing unusual about this game other than the way it was presented. As the title suggests, this game was telecast without television announcers as part of an NBC experiment. The Dolphins lost the game 24-17 to close out an 8-8 season, and it's safe to say that NBC also lost that day because the experiment has never been repeated.
3. The longest game — 2018
This one is the most recent on this list and we're talking of course about the 2018 season opener against the Tennessee Titans that went through not one but two lengthy lightning delays. The game began at 1:02 p.m. and ended at 8:10 p.m., as it became the longest game in NFL history. The length actually overshadowed what was a pretty entertaining game that the Dolphins won by a score of 27-20.
2. The game the Dolphins won twice — 2000
The Dolphins celebrated a 27-24 victory at New England in the 2000 season finale to win the AFC East title with an 11-5 record in Dave Wannstedt's first year as head coach after a Drew Bledsoe pass fell incomplete. The only problem was that officials conferred and eventually decided there was still time left on the clock, so the teams were brought back onto the field after 35 minutes. Patriots starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe, who would lose his job for good to Tom Brady the next year, didn't come back onto the field, leaving the final Hail Mary from the New England 40 to backup Michael Bishop.
1. The Snowplow Game — 1982
Yeah, it's just impossible to surpass the weirdness that took place at Schaefer Stadium that day. It's also always been easier for the Dolphins and their fans to look back at that game in amusement because it didn't stop them from going to the Super Bowl that season.