Elfin's Endzone: Little Fanfare For This Skins-Fins Meeting

9:44 AM, Nov 11, 2011   |    comments
Larry Csonka in SB VII
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LANDOVER, Md. (WUSA) Normally, there's not much reason to get excited about a matchup of a 3-5 team and a 1-7 outfit. After all, 14 NFL squads have more victories than the bumbling Redskins and Dolphins do between them. And six other teams have won as many games by themselves.

What's more, Washington and Miami don't compete in the same conference, let alone the same division. They usually play each other as often as we have Presidential elections (only every four years, unlike, say, Italy). 

However, as isn't the case with their other upcoming AFC East opponents, the New York Jets and the New England Patriots, the Redskins do have a serious history with the Dolphins.

For starters, the Dolphins, along with the Atlanta Falcons, were the first teams to break Washington's stranglehold on pro football fans in the South. That happened when the pair of expansion teams were born in 1966 although Miami was then in the American Football League. 

The AFL and the NFL became one under the latter's umbrella in 1970 and just two years later, the Dolphins finished the only modern-era perfect season by beating the Redskins 14-7 in Super Bowl VII, a game best remembered for Miami kicker Garo Yepremian's pathetic attempt at a pass on a botched field goal which Mike Bass' touchdown was ruled a fumble return.

The Redskins memorably avenged that loss in 1974 at RFK Stadium as 40-year-old Sonny Jurgensen quarterbacked his last tremendous victory, a 20-17 conquest of the two-time defending champions. 

Miami dealt coaches Jack Pardee (1978) and Joe Gibbs (1981) defeats during their Washington debut seasons, but Gibbs paid the Dolphins back in spades the next year by leading the Redskins to a come-from-behind 27-17 victory in Super Bowl XVII, whose signature play was MVP John Riggins' 43-yard run for the winning touchdown on fourth-and-1 in the fourth quarter. 

Miami drafted record-setting quarterback Dan Marino the next year and won three of their next four matchups, but the Redskins gave the Hall of Famer a 21-10 defeat in his final regular season game on Jan. 2, 2000 at what was then called Redskins Stadium. 

When the teams next met in Week 12 of 2003 in Miami, it was Washington's quarterback who endured a bad day. Second-year man Patrick Ramsey aggravated a fractured foot and missed the rest of the season. A first-round pick in the 2002 draft, Ramsey would never be the same. He started only eight games the next two years before beginning a seven-team odyssey from 2006-10. 

Ramsey's closest friend on the Redskins, offensive tackle Jon Jansen, also met a cruel fate against the Dolphins. The one-time iron man had overcome missing all of 2004 with a torn Achilles' tendon to start all but one game the next two years despite two broken thumbs and a torn calf muscle, but in the first quarter of the 2007 opener in Landover, Jansen suffered a broken right leg and a foot so mashed up that he said it wound up pointing in the wrong direction before medical personnel re-set it on the field. 

Washington still won that game, 16-13, on Shaun Suisham's field goal in overtime, but Jansen's gruesome injury left another indelible memory in what has been a memorable rivalry despite being played just 12 times. 

Tune in for the lucky (unlucky?) 13th meeting on Sunday. Kristen Berset and I will be in Miami to report on whatever drama awaits.

WUSA-9's Redskins Insider, David Elfin, has covered sports since he was a junior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in 1975. He is the Washington representative on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee and is the author of five books on the Redskins including the new "Washington Redskins: The Complete Illustrated History." 

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