There were only 15 NFL teams and 9 AFL teams playing professional football in 1966. The Pro Football Hall of Fame only was open four years at that point and had only 39 inductees.
The then-Redskins defeated the Giants 72-41 that season in the old D.C. Stadium on November 27. No team had scored 70 points since that time…no team until last Sunday when the Dolphins upended the Broncos 70-20 in their home opener in Miami.
When a team loses by 50 points, it is difficult to believe it could have been worse but that was the case last Sunday. The Dolphins had an opportunity late in the fourth quarter to kick a field goal and set a record for the most points scored in a regular season game in the 104-year history of the league.
However, Dolphins coach Mike McDaniels told his offense to “take a knee” and there was no additional scoring. Some Dolphins fans wanted the record, but McDaniel explained in his post-game media conference his reasons for not trying for it.
“That’s not what we came to the game to do,” explained the analytical, 40-year-old McDaniel, who is in his second season as Dolphins head coach. “That mark would not have a bearing on the overall season outcome. Ten times out of ten you see a kneel-down in those late fourth quarter situations when the game is out of reach. I will be fine getting second-guessed by turning down NFL records. If the shoe was on the other foot, I would hope the opponent would feel the same way. I think the team, notably the leaders of the team, supported the decision.”
It was a classy decision by the coach and one that quarterback Tua Tagovailoa favored one hundred percent.
“I think around this league it’s about respect for the NFL,” said the four-year veteran, who had his best performance (23 of 26 for 309 yards, 4 TDs) of this young season. “We got respect for the league and we’re not trying to go out there and humiliate teams. We were trying to go out in the last quarter to just run the ball to kill some time, but big plays just opened up.”
We at NFL Alumni appreciate the forthrightness and sportsmanship of the Dolphins’ coaching staff. NFL alum Herman Edwards once famously said during his Jets coaching years that “You play to win the game”. However, this Dolphins victory had been won much earlier.
Young coach Mike McDaniel picked up many new admirers around the league for the class he showed in his late-game decision making. We include ourselves in that circle and applaud him for that.