It wasn’t all Pete Stoyanovich‘s fault. The snap was high, the timing was off and after losing a 15 point halftime lead, it just seemed like the Dolphins were destined to lose and I was destined to be a Chargers fan.
Generally speaking, January’s on Long Island are freezing with Sundays being reserved for hot cocoa, intermittent snow shoveling and the NFL playoffs. My dad had just purchased our nicest tv yet, a 27 inch RCA with picture-in-picture and closed captioning. The week before, we had watched my uncles and cousins cry over a Vikings loss while this week my oldest cousin Jeff and his Dolphins were cruising to a 21-6 halftime lead over the Chargers.
I hadn’t planned on cheering for a Chargers victory that day, but it’s a lot of fun watching a second half comeback and someones emotions take a nasty tumble. With every positive yard and Chargers score, I could see and hear the uncertainty in Jeff’s eyes and voice. That’s when I began secretly wanting the Chargers to pull off the comeback. Being a Dolphins fan from New York he deserved the bad taste in his mouth.
Late in the 4th quarter, Stan Humphries was intercepted for the second time that day and it looked as if the Chargers comeback would come up short which put a smile back on Jeff’s face. Nevertheless, the Chargers defense, which held the Dolphins to only 26 yards rushing that day, got three consecutive incomplete passes and the ball back with time to drive down the field.
Coach Bobby Ross’s great play call at the Dolphins 8-yard line sent wide receiver Mark Seay in motion and Troy Vincent blew the coverage leaving Seay wide open for Stan Humphries game tying touchdown pass. John Carney, perfect on extra points that year, put them up by 1 with 35 seconds remaining. The crisp picture of that sweet new RCA captured the Chargers alongside their loyal fan base going crazy on the field.
The Dolphins weren’t done, on the ensuing drive Marino got lucky on a pass interference call on Eric Castle that brought the ball up to the Chargers 30-yard line. After two more incomplete passes from Marino, the Fish had no choice but to turn to Stoyanovich who was 8 out of 10 from 40-49 yards out that season.
“It was a chip shot for Pete” said my confident cousin as he perked up on the edge of his seat. He’s a smart fan and had the right to be confident in Stoyanovich’s right leg. Unfortunately the snap came in high and Pete pushed it right. The following year he would be a Kansas City Chief.
It didn’t end well for the Chargers as they squeaked by the Steelers only to get destroyed by the 49ers in the Super Bowl, but at least now I had a clear understanding which team I rooted for in the AFC.