EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) _ Fans streamed out of the Meadowlands quite early the last time the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins played on Monday night.
They had little reason to stay. The Dolphins took a 30-7 lead into the fourth quarter on Oct. 23, 2000, and there seemed to be little hope of any comeback.
But Jets defensive end John Abraham saw something a little different. A rookie at the time, Abraham watched from home because he was out with an injury. His friends wanted to turn off the television and go out.
Abraham said no. He had a feeling something special was about to happen.
I never thought we were out of the game,'' Abraham recalled.I didn't feel we were going to lose. All the odds were against them, but they came back and won. I just had a gut feeling.''
So he watched as his teammates started to rally and mounted the biggest comeback in franchise history to force overtime, then finally win 40-37 in a game known as the ``Monday Night Miracle.'' It took over four hours and ended early in the a.m., making it one of the greatest Monday night games of all-time.
I might have voted it the worst one,'' Dolphins fullback Rob Konrad said.But it was definitely an interesting one. In the fourth quarter, it almost seemed like Murphy's Law. Anything that could go wrong went wrong. Crazy things just ended up happening. I remember it just being utter and total disbelief leaving the stadium.''
Ten Dolphins and 10 Jets remain from that game. Both teams were 5-1, but the Jets owned the rivalry in recent years, winning four straight entering the matchup. But it was the Dolphins that jumped ahead early, leaving the Jets scrambling.
New York never panicked. Defensive tackle Jason Ferguson remembered looking his teammates in the eye, knowing they would make an improbable run at the victory. Linebacker Bryan Cox, a former Dolphin playing for New York at the time, huddled with Marvin Jones and Mo Lewis on the sideline to make a plan for a comeback.
In the NFL they always talk about if you're two or three scores down the game is out of reach, but we dispelled that notion,'' Cox said in a phone interview.It was a wonderful thing against one of my favorite teams.''
Vinny Testaverde started the rally with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Laveranues Coles, then followed with a TD pass to Jermaine Wiggins, and a 24-yarder to Wayne Chrebet that tied the game at 30.
Miami went back ahead 37-30 when Jay Fiedler threw a 46-yard scoring pass to Leslie Shepherd 22 seconds later. Still plenty of time for the Jets, and perhaps the most stunning part of the victory: Testaverde tied the game with a 3-yard scoring pass to tackle-eligible Jumbo Elliott, a 300-pound lineman who bobbled the ball before holding on with 42 seconds remaining in regulation.
From the sideline, Cox remembered thinking: ``It must be meant for us to win the game now.''
John Hall finally ended the game with a 40-yard field goal in overtime. Testaverde went 18-of-26 for 235 yards in the final period to bring his team back.
It wasn't a good night for us,'' Dolphins cornerback Patrick Surtain said.The only thing I can remember is Jumbo Elliot catching a touchdown.''
To Jets center Kevin Mawae, something else sticks out: watching Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor shedding tears when it was all over. Taylor had a microphone on for the entire game so the national television audience could hear little snippets of what he had to say.
That was pretty sweet,'' Mawae said.It was a special game. It showed a lot of the character of the team at that time and the fact that you can never count us out.''
Though the Jets improved to 6-1 with the victory, they finished 9-7 and failed to make the playoffs. Coach Al Groh resigned and Herman Edwards took over.
Four years later, the details my be a little hazier but the feelings are still clear.
I just remember the feeling in the air,'' Jets running back Curtis Martin said.It was almost as if you feel like no matter what you were going to perform the impossible out there.''