Ridaught: Florida partying like it’s 1999

NFL football
Dean Bertoncelj via Shutterstock

For the first time since 1999, all three Florida NFL teams are heading to the playoffs.

That’s right, the Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in the NFL playoffs together for the first time since the 20th century.

Not only has it been over 20 years since all three made the postseason, but there was a 5-year stretch when the Jags, the Dolphins and the Bucs failed to have a winning season.

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From 2011-2015, none of the three had a winning record, although the Dolphins had two .500 seasons (2013 and 2014).

They’ve all had their seasons of futility.

The Jags were 1-15 just three seasons ago and have had five 3-win seasons or less since joining the league in 1995. 

In 2014, the Bucs finished 2-14. Tampa Bay has had eight seasons of three wins or less, including an 0-14 record during their inaugural season in 1976.

The Dolphins were 1-15 in 2007, but their lone victory that season, however, came in a thrilling fashion 15 years ago

There have been pockets of success for the trio.

Tampa Bay was the last Florida team to make it to the Super Bowl just three years ago, routing the Kansas City Chiefs, 31-9, to give quarterback Tom Brady his seventh ring. They’ve won the Super Bowl twice (2002 and 2020 seasons).

The Bucs are making their third straight postseason appearance, all under Brady.

Tampa Bay (8-9), which was just 5-4 at home this season, won the NFC South as Carolina, New Orleans and Atlanta all finished 7-10.

Tampa, the No. 4 seed in the NFC, will host the No. 5 seed Dallas Cowboys (12-5), who finished second in the NFC East behind Philadelphia (14-3), at 8:15 p.m. on Monday night.

It will be the second meeting between the two teams. The Bucs defeated the Cowboys, 19-3, on the road in the season opener.

Brady is 7-0 in his career against the Cowboys.

Miami has made five Super Bowl appearances, including three straight appearances in the early 70s. The Dolphins won it back-to-back in 1973 and 1974.

The 1972 Dolphins finished 17-0 with a 14-7 win against the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII on Jan. 14, 1973. The Dolphins honored the 50th anniversary of the 1972 perfect season this past October.

This past Sunday, Miami became the third team from the Sunshine State to punch their ticket. It wasn’t pretty but the Dolphins defeated the N.Y. Jets, 11-6, at home

With the score tied 6-6, Jason Sanders kicked a 50-yard field goal with 18 seconds remaining to send the Dolphins to the postseason for the first time since 2016. New York’s Elijah Moore fumbled out of bounds in the end zone for a safety for the end result.

The Dolphins (9-8), who finished second in the AFC East, clinched the AFC’s third and final wild-card spot in Week 18 and will be the No. 7 seed. 

They were on the outside looking in and needed help if they wanted to make the postseason for the first time in six years.

The victory, coupled with Buffalo’s win against New England, put Miami in the playoffs for just the fifth time since the ’99 season (2000, 2001, 2008, 2016 and 2022).

Miami will play at No. 2 seed Buffalo (13-3, AFC East champs) in the wild-card round at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

And on Saturday night it was a win-and-you’re-in scenario for Jacksonville and rival Tennessee.

The Jaguars (9-8) won the AFC South with a 20-16 victory against the Titans, scoring on a 37-yard fumble return by Josh Allen with 2:51 remaining.

It’s the first postseason appearance for Jacksonville since the 2017 season when they won their division with a 10-6 record, before losing 24-20 at New England in the AFC Championship game on Jan. 21, 2018. 

Jacksonville had a 20-10 lead in the fourth quarter of that game.

In 1999, the Jaguars had a 14-2 record and advanced to the AFC Championship game. 

They had a 14-10 lead at the half at home against Tennessee, but the Titans outscored the Jags, 23-0, in the second half to advance to the Super Bowl.

The No. 4 seed Jaguars will host the No. 5 seed Los Angeles Chargers (10-7, second in AFC West) in the wildcard round this Saturday at 8:15 p.m.

According to Sports Illustrated, the Jaguars are dangerous as they march into the playoffs

In other playoff action, the No. 7 seed Seattle Seahawks (9-8, second in NFC West) will travel to the No. 2 seed San Francisco 49ers (13-4, NFC West champs) on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. to kick things off.

Then on Sunday, following the Dolphins’ game, the No. 6 seed New York Giants (9-7-1, third in NFC East) will travel to the No. 3 seed Minnesota Vikings (13-4, NFC North champs) at 4:30 p.m., while the No. 3 seed Cincinnati Bengals (12-4, AFC North champs) will host the No. 6 seed Baltimore Ravens (10-7, second in AFC North) at 8:15 p.m.

The Kansas City Chiefs (14-3, AFC West champs) clinched the AFC’s No. 1 seed and a first-round bye. A potential Bills-Chiefs AFC Championship Game would be played at a neutral site.

The Philadelphia Eagles (14-3, first in NFC East) clinched the NFC’s No. 1 seed and a first-round bye.

The conference championships will be on Sunday, Jan. 29. 

Super Bowl LVII will be played at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona on Sunday, Feb. 12.

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