So does Jed Weaver remember the flight back after one of the worst collapses in Dolphins history?
"No," he said. "I think everyone got too drunk."
Yet six years later, the former tight end has no trouble recalling what drove many to alcohol.
" Cris Carter dropped a touchdown to win the game in Minnesota," he said. "And we were killing New England with Ricky [Williams] running the ball all game. And the last drive of the New England game, we went out there and threw three incomplete passes, three terrible play calls, and that was it. Then I remember Dave Wannstedt blaming the season on Ray Lucas."
As a Dolphins fan, you might have finally shaken the memories of the 2002 season. So accept our apologies for revisiting them. They can be a valuable lesson for a team now facing remarkably similar circumstances, and which can finally end the playoff drought that began that season.
This team, like that 2002 team, is 9-5 with two road games to go.
One is against a non-contender (Chiefs), just like the Vikings were in 2002.
The lesson there? Fear the team with nothing to lose. Minnesota tried numerous deep passes and trick plays, and passed on a late punt to convert a fourth down that set up the winning field goal.
The finale is against a division rival, this time the Jets, rather than the Patriots.
The lesson there? Don't freeze. Finish.
So will there be another collapse?
"It won't happen with this team," said Shawn Wooden, a 2002 Dolphin safety. "The coaching staff won't allow it to happen. The people above the coaching staff won't allow it to happen. And these guys, they don't know any better. We were used to being in the playoffs. We weren't as hungry."
There's validity to all of that. Expectations were higher in 2002 after five consecutive playoff appearances. Tensions were greater. Many players had been scarred by previous December failures, and the season had already been tumultuous, with a 5-1 start turning into a 7-5 record during Lucas' shaky stewardship in place of Jay Fiedler.
"That was the most talented team that I've played on," said James McKnight, a 2002 Dolphin. "But guys were pressing. And the coaching staff stopped trusting the players."
Still, the Dolphins had a shot at the No. 1 seed on the strength of big seasons from Williams (1,853 yards) and Jason Taylor (18.5 sacks).
"It was very humbling," Wooden said. "At one point, we were talking about home field. It was like, 'What happened?'"
Ethan J. Skolnick can be reached at eskolnick@SunSentinel.com.