With these two teams playing this weekend, I thought I’d look at one of strangest rivalries in the league. Like me, if you aren’t a fan of either of these two teams, you’d have trouble knowing this was a rivalry in the first place. I think this is due to the complete contrast between these cities. Buffalo in the North West, is more known for snow than anything else. Whereas Miami is tropical, and a holiday haven. So here I am to shed some light on this rivalry by taking you back to the best games played by these two.
1966 Buffalo Bills vs Miami Dolphins week 10
This was the second game ever between these two and importantly the first played in Miami. The Bills absolutely stomped on the expansion Dolphins in their home stadium of the Orange Bowl. The Dolphins like every expansion team were outclassed, simply trying to keep their head above the water. Buffalo manhandled them from the first whistle to the last. It finished 29-0, the largest shutout loss in the rivalry to date. Buffalo, seemed almost intent on letting Miami in the game, as they finished with the same amount of interceptions as Miami, had more turnovers with 5 and surrendered 6 penalties for 80 yards.
1972 Buffalo Bills vs Miami Dolphins week 6
Every year, when a team makes it through 8 games undefeated we are suddenly inundated with interviews and articles about the 1972 Dolphins on whether they believe this team will break their record. As always the team loses, and the now decrepit Dolphins players get to toast another season away with their record still intact. But how that all could have been different. In week 6 of that season, they took on the Bills at home. Buffalo on their way to being one of the doormats of the league that season, put up an incredible fight. Led by a great defensive display, they pushed the Dolphins to their closest win of this famous season, 24-23. This loss came in a dark period of this rivalry for the Bills. They lost every single time they played the Dolphins for a decade.
1995 AFC Wildcard Miami Dolphins vs Buffalo Bills
With a final score of 37-22, this game was an explosion of playoff insanity. The Bills in front of a strident home crowd shot out of a cannon to a fourth-quarter lead of 27-0. Although Jim Kelly was playing badly they had another future Hall of Famer on offence in Thurman Thomas. The running back carried the load for Buffalo, as he rushed for 158 yards and caught the ball for 42 yards giving him 200 total yards.
Dan Marino and the Dolphins stifled for three quarters suddenly roared into life in the 4th. It looked like 99% of Marino’s teams, with Marino gliding on air whilst the rest of his team was trying to quickly scrape off the wet cement on their shoes that they’d just stepped in. The Dolphins scored all of their 22 points in the fourth quarter, but the win eluded them. It was a historic day as the Bills 341 rushing yards were the second most all-time in a playoff game behind the 382 yards of the Chicago Bears in the 1940 NFL Championship game. The two teams set a playoff record with 1,038 total yards. This was the last ever game, for legendary head coach Don Shula who retired. He left the game as the NFL’s all-time leader in coaching wins.
2016 Buffalo Bills vs Miami Dolphins
I’ve not specified the week for this one because I’m including both games from this season. I am doing this for the history set in these games by running back Jay Ajayi. In the first game, down 17-6 near the end of the third quarter, the Dolphins embarked on a touchdown drive finished by Ajayi. With 11 minutes left in the game, already at 142 yards, Ajayi rushed for 53 yards giving him 195. By the end, he had 214 yards on the ground as the Dolphins won 28-25. Ajayi became only the fourth player ever to rush for back to back 200-yard games.
When these two teams met again in week 16, Ajayi did it again he rushed for 206 yards and a touchdown in a pivotal overtime win for the Dolphins. He became just the 4th player to ever rush for 200 or more yards three times in the same season, the only player to do it by their second season and one of fifteen in NFL history to have three or more career 200+ rushing games. These two games weren’t particularly memorable, but the history set by Ajayi was. You, like me, are not a fan of the insane amount of publicity he’s received by NFL UK. But you’ve got to respect these performances.
Alex Riley is a 49ers fan who’s followed the game since 2010. He’s currently at the University of Leicester. You can find him on Twitter at @NFLRiley and his blog at www.rileynfl.wordpress.com
Image from www.zimbio.com