Last Sunday, NFL fans were treated to one of the greatest shootouts in league history as Drew Brees and Eli Manning combined to throw for 855 yards and 13 touchdown passes in a 52-49 win for the Saints.
Such a performance rekindled memories of another tremendous shootout (perhaps the greatest in regular season history) between the Dolphins and Jets in 1986.
Miami was coming off of a Super Bowl berth and back to back AFC title game appearances. While the Jets were actually relevant at this point. A season earlier, the Jets fell to the Super Bowl-bound New England Patriots in the playoffs.
One of New England’s other victims during the ’85 postseason was Don Shula’s Dolphins. While they still possessed arguably the game’s greatest gunslinger in Dan Marino, Miami’s defense decayed over the next few years.
The Dolphins opened the ’86 season by allowing 50 points to another 80s relic, the Air Coryell San Diego Chargers, who were shells of their former selves and finished the year at 4-12.
Alas, when the Dolphins rolled into the Meadowlands two weeks later, their defense still was far from the Killer B’s days.
Enter Wesley Walker.
By ’86, Walker entered his 10th season and received All-Pro honors in 1978. However, on that September day in ’86, Walker became an All-Pro all over again for one day.
Jets quarterback Ken O’Brien out-dueled Marino by throwing for 479 yards and four touchdowns – all going to Walker. The Jets won in overtime 51-45 on the strength of Walker’s last touchdown catch of the day.
Along with his four touchdown receptions, Walker caught six passes for 194 yards for the day.
Good defense, Miami.
New York returned to the playoffs en route to finishing 10-6. Meanwhile, Miami missed the playoffs for the first time in six years. Giving up four touchdown passes to an aging wide receiver tends to stick with you for a minute.
By the way, kudos to Dick Enberg’s call. Anytime Dick screams “OH MYYYY”, it’s a good day.