Monday Nights and Other Manning Miami Memories

Alain Poupart

Sports Illustrated has been honoring the career of Peyton Manning this week, and some of his most memorable moments — both good and bad — came against the Miami Dolphins or in the city of Miami itself.

One of the signature moments of Manning's career occurred Feb. 4, 2007 at what was then known as Dolphin Stadium when he won the Super Bowl for the first time with the Indianapolis Colts' 29-17 victory against the Chicago Bears.

Manning got Super Bowl MVP honors that night, even though it smelled of a lifetime achievement award because running backs Dominic Rhodes and Joseph Addai were more worthy candidates. (Manning had one touchdown pass and an 81.1 passer rating; Rhodes rushed for 119 yards and a touchdown; Addai rushed for 77 yards and caught 10 passes for 66 yards.)

Another memorable night in Miami for Manning came Sept. 21, 2009 in his final game against the Dolphins as a member of the Colts.

The Dolphins came in with the idea of keeping the ball away from Manning and succeed in that respect — big time. They rushed for 239 yards and had the ball for a whopping 45:07, which happens to be the highest figure for the Dolphins since the stat first appeared in 1977.

Only problem was that Manning made the most of what little time the Colts were on offense. He threw an 80-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dallas Clark on the first snap of the game and connected with Pierre Garcon on a 48-yard touchdown with just over three minutes left to help the Colts leave Miami with a 27-23 victory.

Things didn't go so well for Manning in his other Monday night appearance in Miami.

That one came late in the 2001 season and the Dolphins put a 41-6 whooping on Manning, who went 19-of-32 with no touchdowns and three picks, two by safety Brock Marion and the other by defensive end Jason Taylor. Manning's passer rating of 35.0 was the worst of his career for a game he started and finished.

Of course, it was against the Dolphins that Manning played his first NFL regular season game and that one also didn't go well for the future Hall of Famer.

Manning passed for 302 yards in his NFL debut, but he was sacked four times and intercepted three times in a 24-15 Dolphins victory at the RCA Dome. One of the biggest plays was a pick-six by Terrell Buckley.

The last Manning-Miami we'll revisit is the 2000 playoff game, which of course is the last time the Dolphins won a postseason game.

Manning was rather pedestrian in that game, going 17-for-32 for 194 yards with one touchdown, no interceptions and an ordinary 82.0 passer rating.

What stands out about the Colts offense that day were a couple of curious coaching decisions by Head Coach Jim Mora that seemed to indicate a lack of confidence in Manning's ability to beat the Dolphins defense.

The first came after the Dolphins tied the score, 17-17, with 28 seconds left.

After the ensuing kickoff resulted in a touchback, the Colts found themselves starting at their 20-yard line with all three of their timeouts remaining.  Instead of letting Manning try to move the ball for a potential game-winning field goal attempt, Mora elected to run the ball and go to overtime.

In overtime, the Colts faced a third-and-12 from the Dolphins 42-yard line when he completed an 11-yard pass to Marvin Harrison. Defensive end Lorenzo Bromell was flagged for offside on the play, leaving the Colts with three options: A) Accept the penalty and make it third-and-7 from the 37; B) Decline the penalty and go for the first down on fourth-and-1 from the 31; C) Decline the penalty and attempt a 49-yard field goal on fourth-and-1.

Mora chose C, Mike Vanderjagt was wide right on the field goal attempt, and the Dolphins drove 61 yards to win the game on Lamar Smith's 17-yard touchdown run.

Mora essentially took the ball out of Manning's hands and ended up paying for it.

Manning's next trip to Miami for a playoff game would be that Super Bowl win against the Bears and it would be the first of two Super Bowl appearances in Miami a four-year span. The second ended in a 31-17 loss against the New Orleans Saints.

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