A meaningful game, for once

The Miami Dolphins haven’t had a winning season since 2005. They haven’t been to the playoffs since 2001.

Last season, I rooted for them to lose. I stayed mum about their only win. I watched Minnesota Vikings games because they wouldn’t show Dolphins games. Which is okay, because I’d probably have watched Minnesota Vikings games anyway. The Dolphins were that bad.

I came into this season without a peep, uncharacteristically, figuring they were already sunk. After all, they entered the season with someone else’s discarded quarterback, with the same team that won only one game the year before only without the Pro Bowl players they had depended on for so long.

I felt no need to write about them. Despite my blind loyalty to the team, I had nothing to say. Nothing to say that hadn’t been said before, that is.

They began the season 2-4. The NBA season was ready to strike up the band. And so my attention waned.

But they won against a hot (at the time) Buffalo team.

And they won again.

And again.

Going 8-1 over the next nine games, they found themselves back in the playoff race. Not just the playoff race, but the division race, holding tiebreakers over the hated Patriots and needing just a win against the hated Jets – the team that handed the Dolphins their first loss in the first game of the season, at home, in Miami.

It was Brett Favre’s first game in Jets Green. It was Chad Pennington’s first game against his former team. And now, the two quarterbacks meet again, their fortunes reversed, the Dolphins riding a wave of success while the Jets have watched their division lead boil away to nothing.

To this game. To this win.

It’s on television, which means this is the first Dolphins game I get to watch. It’s the first meaningful game since 2001, which means there’s something to play for.

It’s a chance for the playoffs, which means it’s the first time I’ve been able to sit down, shield my eyes, and hope for the best since Dan Marino was throwing the ball.

It’s kickoff. And I’ve got a game to watch.

This was lovingly handwritten on December 28th, 2008