The game itself pitted the 7–4 Dolphins against the 6–5 Jets; entering this game the Dolphins and Jets led the AFC East, but all five teams in the division were within two games of the division lead; the Bills had fallen to 6–6 following a Thanksgiving Day loss in Detroit while the Patriots had begun a late-season surge following victories over the Vikings and San Diego and were 5–6 facing the 5–6 Colts that same Sunday. The Jets were coming off a victory at Minnesota while the Dolphins had suffered back-to-back losses to Chicago and Pittsburgh.
The Jets raced to a 17–0 lead before the Dolphins got on the board on Dan Marino's touchdown to Mark Ingram, but misfired on a two-point conversion. The Jets scored again on Johnny Mitchell's touchdown catch before Marino found Ingram again, and this time, connected on another two-point conversion try, this one going to Irving Fryar. In the fourth Boomer Esiason was intercepted for the first time; this set up a third Marino-to-Ingram score. The Dolphins blitzed Esiason and Tim Bowens forced a fumble recovered by the Jets; this forced a Jets punt, but O. J. McDuffie fumbled the punt to the Jets. The Jets drove to the Miami 38 with six minutes left but Esiason was intercepted again. The Jets forced another Dolphins punt, but with 2:34 left, J. B. Brown picked off Esiason again.
With 30 seconds left and trailing 24–21, the Dolphins had the ball at the Jets' 8-yard line with only one timeout. Running to the line of scrimmage, Marino nodded to Ingram and yelled "Clock! Clock! Clock!" and motioned that he was going to spike the ball to stop the clock. The Jets defense, anticipating a spike, relaxed. Marino took the snap; instead of spiking the ball, he dropped back to pass, while Ingram ran to the corner of the endzone with rookie Jets cornerbackAaron Glenn biting on the fake. With the Jets caught off-guard, Marino threw the pass to an open Ingram in the front-right corner of the end zone. The play was brought to Miami earlier in the year by backup quarterback Bernie Kosar, and Dolphins coach Don Shula decided it was the right time to use the trick play.
The 28–24 victory moved the Dolphins to 8–4 and despite subsequent losses to Buffalo and Indianapolis the 10–6 Dolphins edged the 10–6 Patriots, who had won their last seven games, for the division title (winning on a season sweep of New England), the twelfth in the team's history. The Dolphins lost in the Divisional round to the San Diego Chargers, 22–21.
The comeback was Marino's 29th in his career, and fifth against the Jets.
The Jets, meanwhile, went into a tailspin. Coach Pete Carroll called the loss "staggering."  It proved to be more than that. The loss set off the Jets' second straight December collapse; they would not win another game for the rest of the season. Carroll was fired after the season, but the Jets' slump continued under his successor, Rich Kotite; they would win only four games during Kotite's two seasons.