Enduring 2 weather delays, Dolphins win longest game _ again
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — The Miami Dolphins earned a Christmas night playoff victory 47 years ago in a game remembered ever since as the NFL's longest.
Sunday's season-opening win took more than twice as long.
They started at 1:02 p.m., endured two weather delays and played until 8:10 to beat the Tennessee Titans 27-20.
"There's no manual for that," Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake said.
Lightning forced a delay of nearly two hours late in the first half, and another stoppage of more than two hours midway through the third quarter. Players went to their locker rooms and spent the breaks eating, resting, listening to music, reviewing game video, watching other games or riding a stationary bike to stay loose.
"I ate a PBJ, and that was about it," Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler said.
During the first delay, the expected restart time kept getting pushed back. Before the second restart, there was little warning.
"All of a sudden it's go time," Wake said. "You've got to snap to it. You've got to get back to hair on fire, blood-boiling getting after it."
The teams were given 10 minutes to warm up each time they returned to the field. Because of the stoppages, halftime was shortened to 3½ minutes, with the players staying on the field.
FOX had few TV cameras available to cover the finish because some were locked into position due to the lightning threat.
While radar in the area was ominous, and thunder occasionally crackled, there was actually little rain during the delays — and even some sunshine.
"It stinks sitting in the locker room, looking at the sky and thinking, 'There are no thunderstorms anywhere. Why can't we go?'" Titans linebacker Wesley Woodyard said.
Former Dolphins fullback Larry Csonka, for one, was not impressed by the marathon, and didn't think former coach Don Shula would be, either.
"Delay of game for weather??" Csonka tweeted. "Shula didn't even cancel PRACTICE for lightning!"
The two Pro Football Hall of Famers were part of the Dolphins team that beat the Kansas City Chiefs in two overtimes on Christmas 1971. That game took only 3 hours, 21 minutes.
The previous longest game since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger by start-finish time was a Bears overtime victory against the Ravens in 2013, which took 5 hours, 16 minutes.
"It's kind of weird playing, cooling down, revving back up, playing," Titans safety Kenny Vaccaro said. "But that's no excuse. We have to find a way to win that game."
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/tag/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
Follow Steven Wine on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Steve_Wine.