Dolphins beat Colts 23-17 in thrilling OT wild-card game
Updated: Wednesday January 03, 2001 7:59 AM
And when jubilant Miami head coach Dave Wannstedt jumped on his back as they headed for the locker room, Smith carried him, too.
Smith rushed for 209 yards, including a 17-yard touchdown run in overtime, and the resilient Dolphins rallied past the Indianapolis Colts 23-17 in an AFC wild-card playoff game Saturday.
"Everyone got their money's worth," Wannstedt said.
Jay Fiedler overcame three first-half interceptions to lead a comeback from a 14-point deficit in the second half, and Miami tied the game in the final minute of regulation.
The surprising Dolphins (12-5), AFC East champions for the first time since 1994, advanced to the second round Saturday at Oakland. The Colts (10-7) were eliminated in their opening playoff game for the second year in a row, and head coach Jim Mora fell to 0-6 in the postseason.
Smith's 40 carries were a league playoff record, and his 209 yards ranked second in postseason history behind Eric Dickerson's 248 for the Los Angeles Rams against Dallas in 1985.
"I'm just happy to be part of the victory," Smith said. "We had to overcome a lot of obstacles."
The Dolphins were lucky, too: Indianapolis' Mike Vanderjagt made three field goals, but pushed a 49-yard attempt wide right 5:44 into overtime. He then went to the bench and buried his head in his hands while the Dolphins drove for the winning score.
"I let my teammates down, I let the organization down, I let the city of Indianapolis down," Vanderjagt said. "It's a pretty big burden to carry into the offseason, but nothing can change that now."
Miami marched 61 yards in 11 plays for the victory, with Smith carrying six times and catching a pass to account for 40 yards. On second-and-4 at the 17, he started inside, bounced outside, cut back and ran through Burris.
The touchdown put the Colts behind for the first time.
"Once Lamar got to the 10, I said, `They're in trouble,'" guard Mark Dixon said.
Teammates rushed to the corner of the field to swarm Smith, a 30-year-old journeyman and a native of Fort Wayne, Ind. He was released by two teams before becoming a 1,000-yard rusher in Miami this season.
The defeat was a stunner for the Colts, who came into the playoffs with three consecutive wins.
"Everybody is just frustrated," said Peyton Manning, who threw for Indy's lone touchdown. "Looking back at it now, there were just a lot of missed opportunities. We got field goals and didn't get touchdowns."
Mora, at 65 the league's oldest active head coach, remained the only head coach in history with at least 100 regular-season wins and no wins in the postseason.
"I don't feel snakebit at all," Mora said moments after his 14th NFL season ended. "There is no such thing as being snakebit. You either get it done or you don't, and we didn't."
The Dolphins' defense kept the game close by containing the dangerous trio of Manning, Edgerrin James and Marvin Harrison. Fiedler, meanwhile, shook off three first-half interceptions that led to 11 points.
"It was just an amazing comeback," Fiedler said. "The rush of elation and adrenalin was unbelievable."
The Dolphins forced the overtime by scoring with 34 seconds left in regulation. They started at their own 20 with 4:48 to go trailing 17-10, and Fiedler directed a 14-play drive that culminated with his 9-yard touchdown pass to backup tight end Jed Weaver on third-and-goal.
The Dolphins got back in the game at the start of the second half with a 70-yard drive capped by Smith's 2-yard touchdown run. In the fourth quarter, he broke Larry Csonka's team postseason record of 145 yards rushing set in the 1974 Super Bowl.
Olindo Mare's 38-yard field goal with 10:23 left made it 14-10. Vanderjagt hit a 50-yarder with 4:55 remaining.
Mora, plagued in past playoff losses by questionable decisions that backfired, made another one while leading 3-0. The Colts faked a 45-yard field goal, and holder Hunter Smith was thrown for a 6-yard loss trying to run for the first down.
Jerome Pathon dropped a potential 8-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, and the Colts had to settle for a field goal. Pathon later beat Pro Bowl cornerback Sam Madison to catch Manning's 17-yard touchdown pass for a 14-0 lead.
It didn't hold up.
"This game shows the character of our team," Dolphins Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Taylor said. "It's not the ideal way to do things. We don't want to be known as the comeback kids. But nothing comes easily for us."
Notes: The overtime was the first for the Dolphins in the playoffs since a loss to San Diego during the 1981 season, and was the Colts' first postseason OT game since a 1977 loss against Oakland. ... The game was the first NFL playoff game since 1993 to be blacked out, but it finally sold out Saturday. The crowd totaled 73,193. ... Fiedler, a graduate of Dartmouth, became the first Ivy Leaguer to start a playoff game at quarterback since fellow Dartmouth alum Jeff Kemp started for the Rams in 1984. ... Hall of Fame head coach Don Shula was an honorary captain for the Dolphins and participated in the pregame coin toss.