The surging Dolphins are feeling like the Rodney Dangerfields of the NFL.
Not long after beating the Chiefs 38-31 in temperatures more suited for polar bears than dolphins, they were bypassed by NBC for the prime-time game this Sunday night despite a dramatic matchup against the slumping 9-6 Jets, their most heated rival, with the AFC East title on the line.
They did get their scheduled 1 p.m. EST start at The Meadowlands pushed back to 4:15 p.m., a tad closer to prime time. But there still seems to be a lack of respect for the 10-5 Dolphins, who have just engineered the greatest single-season turnaround in NFL history for a team coming off a 1-15 season.
"I think everybody thought of us as a 1-15 team, and there was no point in the season where anybody took us seriously," said cornerback Andre' Goodman, who had five pass breakups and his third interception of the season Sunday. "It's just a fluke because we were winning close games. We had a great game against the Patriots, and everybody was like, 'The Wildcat, it snuck up on everybody.'
"After that, I just think teams are saying, 'They're winning some close games, but they're still the same Dolphins, same roster.' They changed a lot of guys, but at the end of the day, you don't look at our roster and nobody scares you. We have a couple big names; we have Chad (Pennington), we have Joey (Porter), but outside of that, nobody took us seriously. That was OK with us, I don't think it bothered anybody in the locker room."
Perhaps the NFL is not giving the Dolphins enough respect because of their 10 wins, only two came against teams with winning records -- the Patriots and Broncos. Also, they've barely beaten some of the league bottom-feeders such as Seattle, Oakland, San Francisco, Kansas City and St. Louis -- all wins that were by seven points or fewer.
"I feel like that right now, more and more people have to respect our effort at this particular time, but I think there have been points as we've gone on here where maybe there was some of that where people still look at you as a 1-15 team and maybe we're screwing some things up for them," coach Tony Sparano said. "This team understands that everything that we've got right now we have because we work. I told them the other day, 'Nothing is owed to you in this league.' If all of a sudden I stood there in front of him and said, 'This is owed to you,' then I would be tarnishing their accomplishments."
Tight end Anthony Fasano, who caught two touchdowns Sunday, including the game-winning 14-yarder that he snagged with one hand before dragging two Chiefs into the end zone, is not about to diminish Miami's surprising season.
"I think that (lack of respect) just comes from kind of the way we won some of the games this year and thinking maybe it was a fluke," he said. "But when you win games in the fourth quarter and you're able to close teams out consistently, I think that shows signs of a good team."