Editor's Note: The following post contains material not suited for Dolphins fans with weak stomachs, fragile dispositions, or outstanding memories.
Do you remember the day the last great Dolphins Age passed away?
Where were you on Jan. 15, 2000? What were you doing on the day of 62-7?
For the uninitiated, 62-7 forever lives in Dolphins infamy as the score of the divisional playoff game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins in January of 2000. And as the Dolphins are in Jacksonville today, only weeks from the 10-year anniversary of that not-long-enough-ago game, I decided to recall what that day meant then and still means today.
"It's been 10 years? I guess so," said Jason Taylor, the lone member of today's Dolphins to play in that game. "We've had so many moments since then you kind of forget it. Thank God.
"It was just a long day, really. That was one of those days that won't go down in infamy, but pretty darn close. Nothing worked. I think they scored their first play or first three plays, I don't know. They were running plays that should go for two yards and they were running for touchdowns instead."
The game, as Taylor recalls, was indeed a disaster for Miami. Coming off a stirring 20-17 victory over Seattle in an AFC first-round playoff game, the Dolphins traveled to Jacksonville hopeful they could put a year's stress and strife behind them.
That 1999 season, you may recall, was known as the year Dan Marino and Jimmy Johnson spent feuding. Johnson wanted to bench Marino, threatened to bench Marino, but in the end knew Marino gave him his best chance to win. Marino cursed Johnson, wanted to throw more often than Johnson would allow, but in the end recognized he was diminished and could no longer consistently carry the team on his back.
So this flawed team full of fight (inwardly as well as outwardly) went to Jacksonville hoping, believing, that they had a "shot to be special," as Johnson said of them.
Didn't turn out that way. The Jaguars were supremely talented. And ready to play.
Jacksonville scored a touchdown on their first possession. On Miami's first play from scrimmage, Aaron Beasley intercepted Marino's first pass and Jacksonville took over at the Miami 41 yard line. The Jags kicked a field goal. Then the Jags scored again the next time they had the ball when Fred Taylor ran 90 yards for a score. And on the very next play, Marino was stripped of the ball while in the pocket and Tony Brackens scooped the ball up and ran 16 yards for another score.
It was 24-0. And it was only the first quarter.
The Jaguars didn't let up. They led 41-7 by halftime, with Miami's only score coming on a 20-yard pass from Marino to Oronde Gadsden.
Jacksonville would score 21 more points in the second half, with two of those touchdowns coming on a 70-yard and then a 38-yard touchdown pass by Jay Fiedler. Yes, that Jay Fiedler.
The Dolphins fumbled six times that day, losing five. Marino was intercepted twice. The Jaguars tallied 520 total yards, including 257 on the ground.
"It was just a mess. Just a mess," Taylor recalls. "And at the end of the game, as disappointed as you were because you got your butt kicked, it was almost to the point where you were glad because it was over and they couldn't score any more."
But aside from the demolition the Dolphins suffered, the game is known as much for what happened next as what happened during.
"It was Danny's last game, Jimmy's last game," Taylor said.
Johnson had decided to quit coaching for good at least a month before that season ended, probably longer. He had tried to quit after the 1998 season but had been convinced to return by owner Wayne Huizenga. There woud be no bringing him back after 1999.
The morning after the fiasco in Jacksonville, Johnson called a selected handful of reporters individually to his office and told them his intentions to depart. He also told them of his endorsement of Dave Wannstedt as his successor. (Amazing aside of how far we've come: Even though Johnson told the newspaper reporters first, no news leaked because most newspapers didn't have websites up and running at the time that could break the news. So the news broke on radio and TV.)
Within a couple of hours, Johnson held a news conference announcing his departure. Just as it had been immediately following the Jacksonville loss, Johnson took no questions. He made a statement and headed out the back door of the Dolphins' main meeting room.
And in the same press conference the Dolphins then announced the hiring of Wannstedt. Such a thing should not have happened then as Huizenga gave a failed coach the priviledge of naming his successor -- something Huizenga didn't allow Don Shula to do.
But the Wannstedt hiring could not have instantly happened in today's NFL, either. Today, the Dolphins would have had to undergo a search process that involved the interviewing of minority candidates. I'm not saying the Rooney Rule would have saved the Dolphins from Wannstedt, but, well, if you close your eyes, you can dream that perhaps clearer heads might have prevailed.
So Wannstedt ascended to the head coaching job that very day. He had spent the past year dipping heavy hands into the defensive game plan and that plan had just yielded 62 points and now he was going to make decisions over both offense and defense.
That is amazing for it's lack of clarity.
Wannstedt's first decision?
He wanted a new quarterback. He wanted Marino gone. Johnson had benched Marino in the second half of the Jacksonville game in favor of Damon Huard. Within weeks the Dolphins began the process of divesting themselves from Marino as a player.
On Feb. 10, the Dolphins asked Marino to void the final two years of his contract. It was an elegant way to basically cut Dan Marino, making him a free agent. Marino weighed offers from Minnesota, Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh to continue playing but ultimately his ego and competitive spirit didn't override his intelligence. Marino could no longer move in the pocket to avoid hits. He had thus become injury-prone.
The golden arm that made Marino famous never betrayed him. His legs did.
So on March 13, 2000 Marino announced his retirement from football.
"Boy, I really struggled with this," Marino said at his retirement press conference. "This has been the toughest month of my life as far as dealing with playing football or retiring. After the season, I pretty much thought that I was not going to play anymore and I felt that way for a while and I think it was because of the physical aspects of the game. It kept coming back to how my lefs felt during last season, going through the neck injury, not knowing whether I was going to be able to throw the football, and family reasons also. But Claire and the kids were great. They wanted me to play, to be honest with you. Really, it was my decision, a family decision and a health decision."
When the unrestricted free agency period opened that year the Dolphins replaced Marino with Fiedler. Wannstedt would later admit he had been impressed by what he saw from Fiedler the day the Jaguars beat Miami 62-7.
That was 10 years ago this season. The Dolphins play the Jaguars on Sunday.
Follow me on twitter. I will be tweeting news later today about Jake Grove likely being downgraded to out for Jacksonville and other information. Those tweets appear <---- over there, by the way, if you simply refuse to follow me.