To help count down the days to the start of the Miami Dolphins regular season last year, we marked each day with the corresponding jersey number and came up with the three best players to wear that number.
This year, we’re counting down to the start of the regular season with a countdown of the top 100 plays in Dolphins history.
Given that the Dolphins have played 849 regular season games and 41 more in the playoffs, it’s an awfully difficult task to narrow things down to 100 plays and then rank them. The plays selected were ranked on the basis of difficulty, uniqueness, immediate and long-lasting impact and historical significance.
The countdown initially appeared in Dolphin Digest in 2019 but has been updated.
We continue with No. 45:
No. 45: Larry Izzo’s Fake Punt at Houston at 1996
Setting the stage: The 1996 season was Jimmy Johnson’s first as Dolphins head coach, and two of his key rookie finds that year were linebackers Zach Thomas and Larry Izzo. While Thomas excelled on defense, Izzo was a star on special teams. The Dolphins were 5-5 and playing Houston in mid-November when the two rookies combined to turn around a game Miami was trailed 17-13 after three quarters.
The play: The Dolphins faced a fourth-and-9 from their own 32-yard line to start the fourth quarter. Izzo then took the snap as the up-back and darted 26 yards into Oilers territory. While the drive didn’t produce any points, it changed the momentum and moments later Thomas returned an interception for a touchdown to give Miami the lead in a game it would win 23-20. “Nothing Coach Johnson does surprises me,” Izzo said.in a Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel story. “That’s just a gutsy call on his part and you have to give him all the credit for having the confidence to make the call. The only thing I worried about was catching the ball because that’s the first thing you have to think about. The hole was huge. It was the size of the Grand Canyon.”
Alain Poupart has covered the Miami Dolphins on a full-time basis since 1989. You can follow him on Twitter at @PoupartNFL. Feel free to submit questions every Friday for the All Dolphins mailbag.