The history of the Buffalo Bills would not be complete without their great rivalry with the Miami Dolphins. I picked out some of the great wins Buffalo has compiled over the years against the Dolphins. Perhaps, you remember these games. Or, maybe there are some you remember better or enjoyed more!
The Dolphins broke into the league in 1966. By 1970 under the direction of Don Shula, they were already one of the better teams in football. Thus, over the next ten years, they dominated the Bills. Finally, in the season opener of the 1980 season, Buffalo prevailed.
In one of the greatest days in Bills’ history, Buffalo ended their 20-game losing streak to Miami. The appreciative fans tore down the goal posts as the decade of misery came to its climactic end. Trailing the hated rivals 7-3 entering the fourth, Buffalo scored two TD’s in the closing minutes including a short flare pass from Ferguson to fullback Roosevelt Leaks. The game was sloppy and featured 13 turnovers, but Buffalo was very happy for the ugly victory.
The 1980 Bills were an excellent team, perhaps the best team in entire NFL. But, Ferguson, hampered by an ankle injury struggled in a last-minute playoff loss to the San Diego Chargers. The season that started so great ended in disappointment. Nevertheless, the 1980 season opener goes down in history as the top opening day game in Bills’ history!
In 1983, Buffalo finally won IN Miami. This game is known as Dan Marino’s coming out party. The rookie was sensational in leading Miami to a fourth quarter lead. However, Ferguson himself played a great game. The Bills ultimately won the shootout in overtime, 38-35.
The Bills beat Miami several more times in the ‘80s. Some of these games in Buffalo were the worst of his career. For excitement level, however, it is difficult to eclipse another opening day triumph for the Bills. This one occurred in Miami to open the 1989 season.
Buffalo trailed the Dolphins, 24-13 with under 5 minutes to go. But, Jim Kelly delivered one of his finest comebacks of his illustrious career. First, he hit Flip Johnson with a long TD pass. Then, on the last play of the game, he ran a draw to the left end. The dramatic win ended up being critical as the Bills won the AFC East with a modest 9-7 record.
In 1990, the Bills clinched the AFC East late in the season by a score of 24-14. The MVP of this, another goal post tearing down victory, was Frank Reich. One month later, Kelly was back in the snowy AFC divisional round playoff game.
The Bills’ K-gun offense was like nothing ever seen. It combined the deep passing game of the Raiders, the quick strike attack of the Oilers and the no huddle deception of the Bengals into one unreal offensive onslaught. In the game, the Bills scored 44 of the easiest points in playoff history. Were it not for the pride of Dan Marino, Mark Duper and the rest of the gutty Dolphins, the score could have been much worse. The Bills’ offense almost looked elegant in the snow-drenched backdrop as Jim Kelly hit Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed and James Lofton repeatedly.
In the most important game ever played between Buffalo and Miami, the Bills won the 1992 AFC title in South Florida. The final was 29-10, but it could have been much worse. The Bills totally controlled the action. Miami had an impossible time with Buffalo’s screen game. Thomas and Kenneth Davis feasted on the overmatched Dolphins’ defense. It was a super sweet day for the Bills as they clinched their third consecutive conference championship. Unfortunately, they faced an unbeatable Dallas team in the Super Bowl and got destroyed.
The more times Jim Kelly played in Miami, the more times Buffalo kept winning down there it seemed. However, it was two home games for the Bills that are best remembered from 1995. The first of which was a nail-biting 23-20 win to clinch the AFC East division.
Then came the wild card massacre. In what was Don Shula’s last game, Buffalo ran for over 300 yards! Thomas, Darick Holmes and Tim Tindale did the damage in the one-sided affair. Sadly, here we are 22 years later, and the Bills have not won a playoff game since!
Brandon Fazzolari is a Super Bowl expert…@spot_Bills