"Losing the lead was disheartening." Fouts said. "Most of us felt we had lost an opportunity to win. We were down 38-31. We wanted the ball back to try again."
There was time left and Fouts made the most of it. Starting at his own 18, he launched a 10-play drive that ended with a 9-yard tying TD pass caught by James Brooks with 58 seconds to play.
"We got lucky," Fouts said. "I overthrew Winslow. Brooks caught the ball in the corner of the end zone. We sent five receivers out on every pass play. In all the years I played and used that play, I never threw the ball in that position. James hustled to the baseline. There was no reason for him to do it except he saw I was in trouble."
Strock wasn't done yet. In the final minute, he got the ball in position for a 43-yard field goal attempt by von Schamann which was blocked--by Winslow, of all people. "That was the biggest thrill of my life," Winslow said. "I felt like I scored three touchdowns."
Benirschke had the first chance to win it five minutes into the extra period, but his 27-yard field goal attempt sailed wide. Then Von Schamann tried a 35-yarder at 11:27 that was blocked again, this time by Leroy Jones.
Finally, Fouts hit Joiner with a 39-yard pass, moving the ball to the Dolphins' 10 and Benirschke ended the agony with a 29-yard field goal at 13:52.
Bill Arnsparger, then the Dolphins' defensive coordinator and now cast in the same role with the Chargers, remembers the pass before the winning kick. "I have a vivid memory of the play that set up the field goal," he said. "It was a play down the middle to the slot. We didn't make a play on it."