Miami Dolphins History: 100 Greatest Games (# 12)
To count down the days to the start of the Miami Dolphins’ regular season last year, we marked each day with the appropriate jersey number and identified the top three players who wear that number.
This year we’re counting the countdown to the start of the regular season with a countdown to the 100 best games in Dolphins history.
Given that the Dolphins have played 849 regular season games and 41 more in the playoffs, it is an awfully difficult task to narrow things down to 100 games and then sort them out. The selected pieces were classified according to degree of difficulty, uniqueness, immediate and lasting effect and historical significance.
The countdown first appeared in Dolphin Digest in 2019, but has been updated.
It continues with No. 12:
# 12: Joe Auer’s kickoff return for a touchdown against Oakland in 1966
Prepare the stage: The very first regular season game of the Dolphins took place on a Friday evening – September 2, 1966 – against the Oakland Raiders in the Orange Bowl in a fight of the AFL opponents. The Raiders came from an 8-5-1 season that fell short of a playoff appearance, while the Dolphins, of course, didn’t have high expectations for this first season. The first player to touch the ball for the Dolphins that night was Joe Auer, a product of nearby Coral Gables High, who was released from the Los Angeles Rams in mid-August.
The game: As the opening act, it was impossible to top what the Dolphins ultimately achieved, thanks to Auer and his teammates on the field for this game. After receiving the opening start from Raiders kicker Mike Mercer at the 5-yard line, Auer sprinted pretty much straight up through a gaping hole created by his blockers before eventually turning left and on the sidelines and after a. belated tackle-tackle attempt dived into the end zone. The Dolphins would lose that game 23:14 en route to a 3:11 season, but that first game will be remembered forever.
Alain Poupart has been reporting full-time on the Miami Dolphins since 1989. You can follow him on Twitter at @PoupartNFL. Feel free to ask questions for the All Dolphins mailbag every Friday.