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"I didn't get a good enough bump," Jackson said afterward. "He got inside me, then he took off."
Took off for 60 yards and a touchdown, the first TD bomb Marino had thrown this year. Duper was back. He wasn't gripping his leg or limping. On this incredible day he caught the first seven passes Marino threw to him, and dropped the eighth after he beat Glenn on another fly pattern. The sun was shining in Miami.
By the fourth quarter the Jets, crippled by penalties and half a dozen dropped balls, were apparently going nowhere. The Dolphins were up 14-10, they had second-and-short on the Jets' 16, and they were going to put the game away. But now the sun wasn't shining so brightly; Marino got greedy. He audibled to a fade pattern to Clayton, but Jackson read it all the way, grabbing the ball in the end zone. The Jets then put together their best drive of the day—80 yards for a touchdown in eight plays, the last a 20-yard pass from Ken O'Brien to tight end Rocky Klever. It was 17-14 Jets, with 1:06 left.
The Dolphins got a good kick return and took over on their 44 with 58 seconds on the clock. Marino hit Clayton for six yards, and there was 0:49 showing.
"On the next play Dan called a flanker square-in to Clayton across the middle, to clear things out," Duper said later. "Then he checked off at the line. I couldn't hear the number, but I knew it had to be a nine route, a go pattern to me, because Jackson was in single coverage. So I took off."
The' Jets blitzed an inside linebacker, Lance Mehl, and the free safety, Johnny Lynn, leaving Jackson alone with Duper. Purists might scratch their heads at this, but it's New York defensive coordinator Bud Carson's way. Action defense. Force things, make something happen. The Jets had already intercepted Marino three times Sunday, and when they crushed the Dolphins 23-7 in New York last month, they held him to his lowest yardage total as an NFL starter, 136. They did it with pressure. Carson is not the kind of man who sits back in a prevent defense and lets enemy quarterbacks chew his guys up, and that philosophy had produced the NFL's second-ranked defense going into the Miami game.
This time Carson lost. The Dolphins picked up the blitz. Marino stood back and launched his pass, which looked overthrown at first. But Duper, with a great closing burst, settled under the ball, juggled it for a moment and then put it away for a 50-yard touchdown that closed the game out at 21-17 with 0:41 left. In just two plays Marino had turned defeat into victory and the 5-4 and fading Dolphins into 6-4 contenders, a game behind the Jets and the resurgent Patriots (page 60) in the AFC East.
"What can I say? I was running with him, then Duper just ran away from me," Jackson said. "I take my hat off to him. If it had been a no-name who beat me I'd be embarrassed, but he's a great player.
"The funny thing is, when we were changing sides for the fourth quarter I asked him how he felt, and he said he wasn't 100 percent, he was having spasms and stuff. I said, 'Well, I'd hate to see you at 100 percent, then.' "
The final figures on Duper's superday were eight catches for 217 yards, breaking the alltime Dolphin record for receiving yardage in a single contest. Sometimes this game isn't so hard to understand. Are you having trouble getting your team going? Put in somebody who can catch the ball 50 yards downfield and you're in business.