We move on today in the jaguars.com series counting down the all-time Top 10 Jaguars home games to No. 3 – a game that in a very real sense defied logic.
Not that the Jaguars weren't expected by many to win.
And not that a dominant performance wasn't expected by some.
It's just that in the NFL, and particularly in the post-season, outcomes as one-sided and overwhelming as the Jaguars' 62-7 victory over the Miami Dolphins on January 15, 2000, are impossible to predict. And even when they're happening, it's hard to process what's going on.
A fifty-five point margin of victory? Forty-one first-half points?
A 90-yard touchdown run?
The most post-season points in the NFL in 59 seasons?
All of it occurred in the Jaguars' historical AFC Divisional Playoff victory at then-Alltel Stadium, and more than a decade later, it remains a vivid memory of those who were there.
"This was the most dominating game I remember ever seeing," Craig Miller of Auburn, Ind., wrote. "The Jaguars scored almost every way possible."
Wrote Mark from Ponte Vedra, "Clearly not the most exciting, because the game was over in the first quarter, but definitely the most fun if you&39;re a Jag fan. Everything went right."
The game was memorable for more than the lopsided score. It also marked the end of Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino's Hall of Fame career, and the end of Dolphins Head Coach Jimmy Johnson's head coaching career.
"This AFC playoff game was memorable not just for the lopsided score, but because we witnessed the end of the careers of two great football men, Jimmy Johnson and Dan Marino," Joe Dougherty of Fleming Island, Fla., wrote. "Not the way they wanted to go out, I&39;m sure. Memorable nonetheless."
The Jaguars entered the game as a favorite, having that season won a second consecutive AFC Central title, finishing with a 14-2 record and securing home-field advantage for the AFC playoffs. It remains the only time in franchise history Jacksonville has been the AFC's top post-season seed.
For Max from Jacksonville, that made the victory over Miami the "most dominant performance of the year by the most dominant team in franchise history."
Wrote Dave from Jacksonville Beach, "The Dolphins never saw the truck that ran them over. A proper send off for Dan and Jimmy. I don&39;t think the crowd sat down the whole game. Probably the loudest crowd I ever saw at the stadium."
It was, as the score would indicate, a dominant performance from the start.
An early 8-yard touchdown pass from Mark Brunell to wide receiver Jimmy Smith and a 45-yard field goal by Mike Hollis made it 10-0 before the game's signature play broke the game open late in the first quarter. On the play, running back Fred Taylor – then in his second season – took a handoff and started right. He evaded the Dolphins' defense, then outran the secondary en route to a 90-yard touchdown run, by seven yards the longest run in post-season history.
Two plays later, defensive end Tony Brackens stripped the ball from Marino and recovered the fumble. He got up, and while Brackens was celebrating and being mobbed by teammates, linebacker Bryce Paup noticed Brackens hadn't been touched. Paup helped push Brackens into the end zone for a 24-0 Jacksonville lead.
"This game was truly a video game being played out on the field," Jan Dela Cruz of Jacksonville wrote. "Sometimes early in a game you just imagine, 'What if we scored here, then got it back, and scored again, and again, and again . . .' And this day it happened.
"I still can&39;t explain how we did it. It just doesn&39;t add up. What a day."
On the Jaguars' ensuing possession after Brackens' touchdown, Taylor turned a screen pass into 39-yard touchdown, evading tacklers for a 31-0 lead. Taylor finished with 135 yards rushing and the 39 receiving yards before sitting out the second half, by the start of which Jacksonville led 41-7.
"Everything went right," Jami Stuart of Arlington, Va., wrote. "It was probably the best game the Jaguars have ever played."
Little went wrong for the Jaguars in the second half, when backups continued to pull away.
Backup quarterback Jay Fiedler opened the second-half scoring with a 70-yard touchdown pass to Smith, and Fielder later added a 38-yard touchdown pass to Alvis Whitted for a 55-7 Jaguars lead. An odd, memorable twist came after that, when the sprinklers activated in the South end zone, and when running back Chris Howard scored on a 5-yard fourth-quarter touchdown run, the Jaguars had one of the biggest playoff victories in NFL history.
Reader Sunil Joshi called the game the "Jaguars' finest hour" and for that season, that turned out to be the case. The Jaguars played host to Tennessee in the AFC Championship Game the following week, and for the third time in as many meetings that season, the Titans won, beating the Jaguars 33-14 and ending Jacksonville's most-successful season a week short of the ultimate game.
"This is by far the Jaguars best game in the best season that they&39;ve had in team history," Derek Credit of Lexington Park, Md., wrote. "Just wish they would have saved a little of this beat down for the Titans in the following week's AFC Championship game. "
But while the loss to the Titans ended a memorable season in disappointing fashion, for the fans who attended on January 15, 2000, there was a memory that lasted far beyond the season – and a memory that ranks among the most memorable in franchise history.
"Jacksonville versus Miami is an underplayed rivalry," Kevin Weaver of Jacksonville wrote. "It's not a division game, but both teams being from Florida causes some serious discussion between the fan bases. To dominate another team, in the postseason, to this extreme, is a crucial victory and very exciting for the fans."
Wrote Clay Evans of Tampa, "Best game in history. Nothing like beating an in-state rival on the road to the AFC Championship Game."