The 1981 AFC Divisional Playoff Game between the San Diego Chargers and Miami Dolphins had everything: wacky plays, heroic performances, endless drama, and countless momentum swings in the humid
With atrip to the AFC title game on the line, the Chargers jumped to a 24-0first-quarter lead. That forced the Dolphins to abandon their conservative gameplan and bring in veteran quarterback Don Strock. Passing on almostevery down, Strock led the Dolphins to 10 points while the Chargers’ high-poweredoffense stalled. Still,
TheDolphins, without much time (six seconds) or much hope of getting another scorebefore intermission (they were at the Chargers’ 40),calleda play that usually only works on the sandlot, then executed it to perfection.Strock fired a pass to Duriel Harris on the right side at
The Hook and Ladder’ play made it 24-17, and sent the Dolphins into thelocker room on an emotional high that carried over into the second half.Strock, who passedfor 403 yards and four touchdowns, led
But notfor long. An interception late in the period gave
Theyalmost put the game away with a seven-minute drive, but momentum swung againwhen
Back cameStrock, who led
Inovertime, after each team missed a potential winning field goal (von Schamannhad another kick blocked), Fouts, who completed 33 of 53 passes for 433 yardsand three touchdowns, found Charlie Joiner for a 39-yard pass. Theplay capped a 74-yard drive and set up Rolf Benirschke’s29-yard field goal to end the game after ofovertime, sending both teams, and their fans, home emotionally drained but withthe memories from one of the greatest games in NFL history.