LA Chargers News

Los Angeles Chargers defining moments: Epic in Miami

SAN DIEGO - SEPTEMBER 25: Quarterback Dan Fouts #14 of the San Diego Chargers sets to pass during a game against the Cleveland Browns at Jack Murphy Stadium on September 25, 1983 in San Diego, California. The Browns won 30-24. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO - SEPTEMBER 25: Quarterback Dan Fouts #14 of the San Diego Chargers sets to pass during a game against the Cleveland Browns at Jack Murphy Stadium on September 25, 1983 in San Diego, California. The Browns won 30-24. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)
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12 Nov 2000: A shot of a Miami Dolphins helmet sitting on the field before the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. The Dolphins defeated the Chargers 17-7.Mandatory Credit: Stephen Dunn /Allsport
12 Nov 2000: A shot of a Miami Dolphins helmet sitting on the field before the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. The Dolphins defeated the Chargers 17-7.Mandatory Credit: Stephen Dunn /Allsport

Things get even wilder in the second half

The two teams traded shots in the second half just like a heavyweight fight between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. After the Dolphins tied the game up, the Chargers responded when Fouts hit Kellen Winslow on a 25-yard touchdown pass.

Remember Winslow’s name, as he would really be the story on this day.

Strock came back and hit Bruce Hardy with a 50-yard touchdown pass and the crowd was going wild as the game was tied 31-31. The Dolphins would then get their first lead of the game when Tony Nathan scored on a 12-yard touchdown run to capitalize on a Fouts interception moments earlier.

It appeared that the Dolphins were going to run out the clock on their next possession but Chargers defensive lineman Louie Kelcher made a game-saving play when he stripped Dolphins running back Andra Franklin and the Chargers recovered.

Fouts then atoned for his earlier interception and took the team on a game-tying drive, throwing a touchdown pass late in the game.

The Dolphins got one more possession and managed to get into field goal range. That’s when Winslow made his presence felt again.

Key play: With just seconds left in the game, the Dolphins moved the ball to the San Diego 26-yard line and brought out kicker Uwe von Schamann for a 43-yard field goal attempt. But Winslow, a tight end, was put into the game to see if he could block the kick.

You can see that he did at about the 1:45 mark of the video here.

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Into overtime the game went and each team had a long possession, first the Chargers and then the Dolphins, that each ended on missed field goal attempts. The Chargers got the ball back and Fouts moved them all the way down to the Dolphins’ 10-yard line where Benirschke came out and booted a 29-yard field goal to finally put an end to the game, one that lasted nearly 74 minutes of game time.

There is an iconic photo of a dehydrated Winslow having to be helped off the field by his teammates following the win. He finished the game with an NFL playoff record 13 receptions for 166 yards and a touchdown to go along with the blocked field goal.

He was also treated for dehydration, a pinched nerve in his shoulder, cramps and a gash in his lip that needed stitches. It is considered by many analysts to be the greatest playoff performance in NFL history.

That performance and that game are remembered in Chargers history perhaps more than anything the team has ever done.

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