Posted: Sunday January 16, 2000 12:06 PM
JACKSONVILLE, Florida (Ticker) -- If this truly is Dan Marino's farewell, the Jacksonville Jaguars brought his legendary career to a nightmarish finish with the biggest rout in AFC playoff history.
Fred Taylor scored on an electrifying 90-yard run, the longest ever in the postseason, and turned a short pass into a 39-yard touchdown as the Jaguars rolled to a 62-7 trouncing of the shellshocked Miami Dolphins.
After hearing skeptics harp on the fact none of their 14 wins came against teams with winning records, the Jaguars were on a mission to destroy and left Marino and the Dolphins in their wake.
The 62 points was an AFC playoff record, surpassing Oakland's 56-7 victory over Houston in the 1969 AFL divisional playoffs. The 55-point margin of victory is second only to Chicago's 73-0 win over Washington in the 1940 NFL championship game.
"It was a great day for the Jaguars," said Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin. "I think we all understand a little bit better now what the homefield advantage is all about because our stadium was rocking and rolling today. Our players enjoyed that part of it."
The Jaguars (15-2) reached the AFC championship game for the first time since the 1996 season and will host the winner of the game between Tennessee and Indianapolis next Sunday.
Jacksonville set a postseason record with 520 total yards, 257 on the ground and 263 passing. Meanwhile, the Dolphins committed seven turnovers, six of which led to 27 points, and were limited to 131 total yards.
The embarrassing defeat ended Marino's quest for a Super Bowl ring at least for this season and it could be the final game of his legendary 17-year career. The NFL's most prolific passer was dreadful today, throwing two interceptions and committing two fumbles in a 41-point first half for the Jaguars. The 41 points tied a postseason record set by the Buffalo Bills in a 51-3 rout of the Raiders in the 1990 AFC championship game.
Marino hit Oronde Gadsden with a 20-yard touchdown pass with three seconds left in the half for Miami's only points. He played just one series in the third quarter before departing and finished 11-of-25 for 95 yards.
"I know we didn't compete at all," Marino said. "We played horrible. I never experienced a game like this in my life. Ever since I was a little kid I never been in a game like this."
Afterwards, he was noncommittal on his future, but indicated he would like to return.
"I'll wait and see the circumstances with the Dolphins and how I feel and decide sometime later on," Marino said. "I still feel like I can win games in this league and I've proven that."
An ineffective Marino, the turnovers and shoddy tackling spelled disaster for the Dolphins (10-8), who posted an impressive wild card win at Seattle last week but were no match for Jacksonville's stable of stars.
With Taylor, Mark Brunell and Jimmy Smith leading the offense and defensive end Tony Brackens returning a fumble for a touchdown, the Jaguars built a 41-0 lead while Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson could only watch in stunned disbelief.
Speculation is swirling that this could also be the final game for Johnson, who has failed to reach the AFC championship game in his four years with the Dolphins. Last year, Miami was routed by the Denver Broncos, 38-3 in the divisional playoffs.
"I take the blame for this one," Johnson said. "Jacksonville's got a great team and they played great. I tried to prepare them too much. I should have pulled back after the long trip to Seattle. It was obvious from the start that we were dead-legged. That's one reason why we couldn't bring our feet, or go through the tackles or we couldn't run."
Brunell, playing with braces on both knees, left early in the second quarter after Jacksonville scored 38 points in the first 18 minutes of the game. He completed 5-of-9 passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns.
"As far as the leg, it was great today," Brunell said. "It was strong. I didn't have any setbacks and I felt good today, moving around. I got out of the pocket and I think I ran once. I felt confident coming in that I wouldn't have a problem."
Backup Jay Fiedler played the rest of the way and was 7-of-11 for 172 yards and two touchdowns with an interception.
Taylor, who was bothered most of the season by hamstring problems, also played only in the first half and finished with 135 yards on 18 carries. James Stewart added 62 yards on 11 carries.
Smith, the league leader with 116 receptions, caught five passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns.
The first possession for each team signified a rout was coming. Brunell engineered a nine-play, 73-yard touchdown drive and Marino had his first pass of the day intercepted.
After taking the opening kickoff, Brunell marched the Jaguars down the field. On the third play from scrimmage, Brunell hit Smith with a 41-yard pass to the Miami 22. Smith shook off a bump from Pro Bowl cornerback Sam Madison, slanted toward the middle and raced past safety Shawn Wooden before he was tackled by Patrick Surtain.
Brunell kept the drive alive with a 10-yard pass to Keenan McCardell on a 3rd-and-9 play to the Miami 11. On a 3rd-and-7 play, Brunell drilled an eight-yard touchdown pass to Smith 4:28 into the game.
"Mark did a good job on that first drive, and that set the tone for the day," Coughlin said.
Marino badly misfired on his first pass as he attempted to hit Tony Martin on the left sideline. However, the ball floated well shy of Martin and cornerback Aaron Beasley easily picked off the pass and returned it five yards to the Miami 41.
The turnover set up a 45-yard field goal by Mike Hollis, giving Jacksonville a 10-0 lead with 6:19 left in the first quarter.
After a three-and-out, a 57-yard punt by Miami's Tommy Hutton backed up Jacksonville at its own 9. Two plays later, Taylor ran around right end and broke off a spectacular 90-yard touchdown run which featured missed tackles by a number of Dolphins.
Thomas juked Pro Bowl linebacker Zach Thomas at the line of scrimmage, slithered away from safety Calvin Jackson, sidestepped Surtain and linebacker Robert Jones and outraced safety Brock Marion into the end zone.
"I can't say enough about Fred," Brunell said. "Keenan on the sideline came up to me and said 'that guy's special.' That's pretty accurate. He's very special. There's not a lot of guys who can do what he does. He can change the course of a game on one play."
The previous longest run in postseason history was an 80-yard touchdown by San Francisco's Roger Craig in an NFC playoff game against Minnesota in 1988.
On Miami's next possession, Brackens forced a fumble by Marino and returned it 16 yards for a touchdown with 3:31 left to close out a 24-point quarter for the Jaguars.
Brackens raced around end and jarred the ball away from Marino with a tomahawk chop. He fell to recover the fumble while teammate Lonnie Marts put his hand on Brackens' back. However, no Miami players made contact with Brackens, who got up off the field and was pushed toward the end zone by teammate Bryce Paup. As Brackens ran in for the touchdown, most of the Miami players appeared to have quit on the play, which was never blown dead by a whistle.
"I thought I was down actually because I felt a pile of guys on top of me," Brackens said. "I was celebrating with all the guys around me. I was on the way to the sidelines and I got a push on the back. They told me to run so I ran."
After another three-and-out featured two runs by J.J. Johnson for two yards and an incompletion by Marino, the Jaguars took over at their own 47.
Four plays later, Taylor turned a short pass on a 3rd-and-14 play into a 39-yard touchdown 12 seconds into the second quarter, increasing Jacksonville's lead to 31-0. A wide-open Taylor broke a tackle by Wooden after he made a first down and then eluded Madison and Surtain on his way to the end zone.
On Miami's next possession, Marino was sacked by defensive tackle Gary Walker for a seven-yard loss and threw another incompletion, forcing yet another punt.
Typical of Miami's disastrous day, Hutton had the punt blocked by rookie Corey Chamblin and Chris Howard recovered for Jacksonville at the Miami 21.
Three plays later on a 3rd-and-14 play, Stewart took a handoff around left tackle and scored on a 25-yard run to open a 38-0 lead with 12:05 left in the second quarter. Frustrated Dolphins cornerback Jerry Wilson pushed Stewart from behind after he reached the end zone, drawing a 15-yard penalty for unnecessary roughness.
On Miami's next possession, Beasley recorded his second interception of the day, picking off a pass by Marino at the Miami 39. However, Jacksonville failed to take advantage of the turnover.
Marino completed his first pass of the day, a three-yarder to Gadsden, with 10:40 left in the half for his first completion of the day. However, it was followed by three straight incompletions forcing another punt.
A fumble by Autry Denson off a lateral by Marino was recovered by Jaguars safety Donovin Darius at the Miami 7 with 4:22 left in the half. Denson also appeared to quit on the play, thinking the lateral was an incomplete pass. But two plays later, Fiedler's pass was intercepted in the end zone by Jackson.
Miami committed its fifth turnover of the half when J.J. Johnson had the ball stripped away from him by safety Carnell Lake after he caught a screen pass. Lake ripped the ball out of Johnson's hands at the Miami 30.
Following the turnover, a 12-yard pass by Fiedler to fullback Daimon Shelton set up a 28-yard field goal by Hollis with 1:47 left in the half.
Marino completed just 3-of-11 passes for 12 yards before he led the Dolphins on a nine-play, 80-yard TD drive to end the half. He was 7-of-12 for 79 yards in the drive which he capped with a perfect 20-yard scoring pass down the right sideline to Gadsden.
After a three-and-out to start the third quarter, Marino departed and Damon Huard played the rest of the way. Huard completed just 5-of-16 for 46 yards.
On Jacksonville's third play from scrimmage in the second half, Fiedler connected with Smith on a 70-yard touchdown. Smith beat Madison down the left sideline, caught a 30-yard pass and raced 40 yards to the end zone, increasing Jacksonville's lead to 48-7 less than three minutes into the third quarter.
Reserve receiver Alvis Whitted also victimized Madison on a 38-yard touchdown catch midway through the third quarter.
A five-yard touchdown run by Howard 4:23 into the fourth quarter following a fumble by Miami's J.J. Johnson completed the rout.
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