The 1994 game between the Jets and the Dolphins has found itself in NFL lore. It is called the Fake Spike game. With the Dolphins driving for the winning touchdown in the last minute of the fourth quarter, Dan Marino pretended to line Miami up to spike the ball in a no huddle situation. Then he pretended to throw the ball into the ground, catching rookie Jets cornerback Aaron Glenn sleeping. He hit Mark Ingram for the go ahead touchdown. Miami won.
The Fake Spike has taken on such a life of its own that it's easy to think this was simply a case of Marino making a great play in the clutch. In reality this game was so much more painful for three reasons.
Reason 1: The Jets had leads of 17-0 and 24-6 in this game. The Fake Spike wasn't just an isolated stomach punch. It was the culmination of an epic meltdown.
Reason 2: Late in the fourth quarter with the Jets clinging to a 24-20 lead and clearly in run out the clock mode, the Jets threw an incompletion on a third down pass. Running the ball quite possibly would have allowed the Jets to milk the clock to the two minute warning and perhaps deprived Marino of the time he needed to come back.
Reason 3: This wasn't just any game. First place in the AFC East was on the line.
These are just the things that we knew at the time of the game. The context of what happened after is just as painful. Instead of leading the East and having a great shot at the Playoffs, the Jets lost their last five to finish 6-10. It gets worse. This game started a 37 game stretch where the Jets went 4-33.
Pete Carroll coached the Jets in this game. It's nice that he grew up and found success with USC and the Seahawks later in his career, but the man was an unmitigated disaster with the Jets. This game was a microcosm of his failure.