Last time for auld lang syne:

groundhog day.

Now put the sentence in a box, padlock it, take it five miles from the shore and throw it into the ocean.

For most of the last 15 years, I’ve changed my Twitter icon around this point in the Miami Dolphins season to Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day icon, where the same day repeats itself over and over again. Because we repeated the same season over and over again.

The Groundhog Day icon became a groundbreaking ritual like dropping the New Year’s Eve ball in Times Square because one season of Dolphins followed the same pattern as the previous one. And the one before. One November game in 2014, when the Dolphins were losing to Buffalo and another season was leaking, a text message popped up on my phone.

“Get your Groundhog Day photo ready,” wrote Richie Incognito, a former Dolphins ranger.

He knew what everyone knew. We woke up every January during 8-8. And there’s nothing the new coach or the next plan can do about it. Until this year.

You may be wondering how this Dolphin season will end. You can see a tougher schedule ahead – three more away games, two games in cold weather – and you can rub the scars of old pain. But this year is not those years, and this team is not those teams.

For most of the 20 years it was the Deadphins.

Now they are the biggest program in Surf.

They don’t just win, something this franchise has done little for most of two decades. They’re fun – and I’m not just talking about Coach Mike McDaniel, who broke the humor barrier for soccer coaches like Chuck Yeager by breaking the sound barrier for pilots.

They have a top rated quarterback at Tua Tagovailoa and a yards leader at Tyreek Hill (Jaylen Waddle is fifth). This year, they have nine plays for over 40 yards – eight in all of last season. And four in 2020.

They came back 21 points down and six feet under in Baltimore. They have scored at least 30 points in a row in their last three games. Sure, that was against Detroit, Chicago and Cleveland, the league’s three defensive dregs.

But you know who hasn’t scored 30 points in a row in three consecutive games?

Any other team.

Kansas City and Buffalo are working on more over-30 games, so they have a chance to stretch them to three in a row this weekend. So what? The Dolphins (7-3) should stretch that to four more such games against league-worst Houston (1-8-1).

(Quite a side note: there’s no better example of the wheel of life than what happened in South Florida when the Dolphins achieved entertainment this season. The Heat, a shot from last year’s NBA Finals, are battling. The Panthers, the best team in the regular season last year, has problems. It’s like there’s a limit to the fun in this market.)

Part of the fun this season, of course, is watching New England become dolphins. Oh, there are 6-4. But for years, they yawned at the thought of making the playoffs, collected Super Bowl rings (and their beat writers wrote bestsellers, while Dolphins writers wrote about the next hired coach).

Now they’re just another mediocre band. Like once upon a time dolphins. Their fans are refreshing tankathon.com this season as Dolphins fans have for years to see if their contract design holds any hope.

It’s another tradition for Dolphins fans – like reliving another season of Groundhog Day for me.

For all the mediocre years when the Dolphins were still living their 8-8 seasons, I wondered why if they had a repeat of the year, it couldn’t be Dan Marino’s magical 1984 season. It was an electric year. Why couldn’t we make this year live again and again?

New look. If it’s not 1984 again, it’s as close to the Dolphins as it’s been in a long time. Their offensive looks electrifying. This season is full of possibilities. November turns to December and you can take that old Groundhog Day icon and throw it in the ocean.

Is new. It’s Bill Murray, waking up to a new day and saying, “Something’s changed.”

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