Love a good rivalry? So do we. Here are
five of the best head-to-head matchups in the National
Football League for the 2002 season, the fields that teams
have come to fear the most, and players - old and new - to
keep a close eye on.
As Zach Thomas sat in his locker stall after yet another Dolphins
collapse against the Jets, the emotion of the moment swept over him
like a South Florida storm. "This is getting ridiculous," Thomas
said before dodging some of the media procession en route to the
shower. Last season, for the eighth consecutive game, Miami was
beaten by its most bitter rival despite the fact that on most
occasions, on paper, the Dolphins appeared to hold the upper
So it goes in the NFL, where rivalries like this are as
unpredictable as a Bill Belichick defensive game plan. But while
the Dolphins and Jets have waged an East Coast war for the better
part of three decades, many blast-from-the-past rivalries have
again reared their ugly heads (or, as football fans would like to
think, beautiful heads). But before we delve into those battlefield
conflicts, let's focus on one of the golden oldies that never grows
old: Dolphins versus Jets.
"Man, it's totally in their minds now," explains Jets defensive end
John Abraham. "I mean, they're just waiting for us to beat them in
the second half. No matter how good they are playing, something
happens to them in the second half and something happens to us. The
results speak for themselves."
They certainly do. Last season, Miami blew two games, and in doing
so greatly hurt their chances of hosting the AFC playoffs and,
perhaps, playing in New Orleans instead of New England.
"Yeah, I have no idea what's going on here," says Thomas, the
Dolphins' mini-mite middle linebacker. "We just can't put this team
away, no matter how important the game is. We've got to change
things this season or we're destined to remain in the middle of the
pack in the AFC."