One of the most exciting games in Miami Dolphin history was not seen by the people who would have enjoyed it most: ticketless Dolphin fans in Miami.
Saturday’s NFL wild-card playoff game at Pro Player Stadium was blacked out locally because it did not sell out before Friday’s NFL-mandated deadline.
“That’s disappointing,” Miami Coach Dave Wannstedt said. “You want the whole community to be involved in a great day like this.”
The game, which drew 73,193, eventually was announced as a sellout, although plenty of empty seats could be seen.
Miami defensive end Jason Taylor said these close games are killing him.
“This is not the ideal way to do things,” he said. “We don’t want to be known as ‘The Comeback Kids.’ But nothing is easy in this league. Nothing is easy for us. This is the playoffs. It’s a whole new level.”
Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning played a solid game, completing 17 of 32 passes for 194 yards and one touchdown, but the Dolphins made him work for every yard.
“You give Peyton field position and he’ll tear you up,” Miami linebacker Zach Thomas said. “You’ve got to make him go 80 yards.”
Manning said he does not dispute Coach Jim Mora’s decision to run out the clock in regulation at the Colts’ 20-yard line with 28 second left.
“It’s one of those things that if you hit a play and get down there, that’s good, but if you get a tipped ball or if someone falls down, then you have no chance of taking it into overtime,” Manning said.
Indianapolis tailback Edgerrin James said no one is blaming kicker Mike Vanderjagt for missing a 49-yard attempt in overtime that could have won the game.
Vanderjagt had made 26 of 28 field goals this season before his miss.
“We won with Mike, and we lose with Mike,” James said. “We support Mike. There’s no way we’re going to put everything on Mike’s shoulders. We won close games with Mike and we lost close games, so it really doesn’t matter.”
Miami quarterback Jay Fiedler, a Dartmouth graduate, became the first Ivy Leaguer to start an NFL playoff game at quarterback since fellow Dartmouth alum Jeff Kemp started for the Rams in a 1984 wild-card game against the New York Giants.