It was a year ago this week that Bears guard Ted Larsen played a major role in one of the craziest game-winning touchdowns in NFL history.
Last December Larsen was the starting left guard for the Dolphins when Miami trailed the visiting New England Patriots 33-28 with :07 remaining in the fourth quarter. With the ball at their own 31-yard line, the Dolphins had one last desperate chance to try to avoid losing to their AFC East rival.
As quarterback Ryan Tannehill dropped back to pass, Larsen retreated out of his stance, looking for someone to block. The Patriots only rushed three defenders, however, leaving Larsen without anyone to engage with.
The Dolphins were too far from the end zone to attempt a Hail Mary, so Tannehill calmly rifled a pass over the middle to receiver Kenny Stills at the Miami 47. Stills immediately pirouetted and pitched the ball to receiver DeVante Parker, who ran five yards before lateralling to running back Kenyan Drake along the right sideline.
Drake broke an attempted tackle by Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy and cut back inside. Larsen, meanwhile, had sprinted up-field as soon as Tannehill had released the ball and was actually five yards ahead of Drake. That enabled the veteran lineman to deliver a key block on safety Eugene Chung, and Drake dashed by them. The Dolphins running back then raced around a stumbling Rob Gronkowski and into the corner of the end zone, giving Miami a wild 34-33 victory.
“Every team has its end-of-the-game plays and we’d run it a bunch every Friday or Saturday,” Larsen said. “You go down and you either get a block or get the ball. I was thinking I might get the ball or something but I ended up making kind of an important block and then the skill guys did an amazing job.”
After reaching the end zone, Drake fired the ball into the end zone. Larsen removed his helmet in exhilaration. And all the euphoric Dolphins players piled on top of each other in the end zone like a baseball team that had just won the World Series.
“I lost my mind,” Larsen said. “There was a security guard who got trampled because the whole team ran on the field and it continued into the locker room. It was crazy.”
The play, which was dubbed “The Miami Miracle,” was the first walk-off game-winning touchdown in NFL history to involve multiple laterals. It was named the play of the year at the NFL Honors awards show. It even has its own Wikipedia page.
The attention the play garnered was just as crazy as the play itself. Over the next several weeks, countless media outlets—including TMZ—interviewed Larsen and his teammates about the remarkable game-winning touchdown.
“That play wouldn’t die,” Larsen said. “There were so many interviews where I was talking about the same thing, so it’s funny that I’m talking about it a year later. I was just actually watching a [documentary] with [Patriots coach] Bill Belichick on HBO. He was talking about moments that he felt like he let his team down coaching and that play was on there. So I guess it’s immortalized.”