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The History Of The Miami Dolphins


The History of the Miami Dolphins began in 1966 as an AFL expansion team. Entertainer Danny Thomas was one of the original owners of the team. The Dolphins struggled as most expansion teams do the first few seasons.
When the league merged with the NFL in 1970, the Dolphins hired Don Shula, the former Colts coach who led them to Super Bowl III, to be the new head coach. The Dolphins immediately began to dominate in the NFL, making the playoffs for the first time in 1970. They went 10-4 then lost to Oakland 20-14 in the playoffs, but it was the start of something great.

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With Hall of Fame quarterback Bob Griese, running backs Jim Kiick, Hall of Famer Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris, Hall of Fame wide receiver Paul Warfield and Hall of Fame offensive linemen, Jim Langer and Larry Little the Dolphins offense was an efficient machine. Griese mixed in an occasional long pass to Warfield to go with one of the greatest ground attacks in NFL history to win game after game.

The Dolphins defense was made up of a lot of little known players that worked together as a unit to shut down opposing offenses. The “No Name Defense” was led by linebacker and Hall of Famer Nick Buoniconti. Along with players such as Dick Anderson, Jake Scott, Bill Stanfill, Manny Fernandez and other lesser known players, the Miami defense was tough to score on.

Miami has won two Super Bowls (1972 and 1973) and have won five AFC Championships (1971, 1972, 1973, 1982 and 1984). They have 13 AFC East Division Championships and 22 playoff appearances. The vast majority of this success was achieved under Shula, who retired with more victories than any coach in NFL history.

In 1971, the Dolphins made it to the playoffs by winning the AFC East. In the first playoff game, the Dolphins beat the Kansas City Chiefs on Christmas Day in the longest game in NFL history. Garo Yepremian’s field goal after 22 minutes of overtime won it for the Dolphins. The following week, Miami beat the defending Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Colts 21-0 in the AFC Championship Game. Dick Anderson was the Game’s MVP with two big interceptions.The Dolphins advanced to their first Super Bowl Game where they lost to the Dallas Cowboys 24-3. The Dolphins would not lose another game for nearly two years. That Super Bowl loss drove the team to perfection the following season.

In 1972, despite starting quarterback Bob Griese going down with a broken leg in Week Five of the season, Miami reeled off win after win. Earl Morrall stepped in as the starting quarterback and Miami didn’t miss a beat. Behind the first teammates to rush for 1000 yards in the same season in Csonka and Morris, Miami beat Cleveland in the first round of the playoffs and then went to Pittsburgh for the AFC Championship Game. Griese came back as a substitute in the Dolphins 21-17 win over the Steelers to advance to Super Bowl VII against the Washington Redskins.

The Dolphins won the Super Bowl 14-7 and likely would have the only shut out in Super Bowl history had it not been for a botched field goal attempt that resulted in Garo Yepremian fumbling the ball into a Redskin defender, Mike Bass’ arms who ran it back for Washington’s only score. That play is included in every “Football Follies” show to this day, but it did not detract from the Dolphins perfect season. No team has duplicated the feat to this day, although the New England Patriots in 2007 came pretty darn close. They went all the way to the final seconds of the Super Bowl before losing to the New York Giants. The ’72 popped the corks on their champagne which has been their custom every year when the last unbeaten team loses.

Many feel the 1973 team was the best team of the Dolphins three Super Bowl teams. The team went 12-2 and again won the AFC East. In the playoffs the Dolphins beat the Cincinnati Bengals 34-16 and then beat the Oakland Raiders 27-10 in the AFC Championship Game. They advanced to the Super Bowl where they pounded Minnesota 24-7 for their second straight Super Bowl Championship. It is the last time Miami has won the Super Bowl.

Miami would go to the playoffs again in 1974, losing a great game in the playoffs to the Oakland Raiders. After the season Csonka, Kiick and Warfield left for the start up World Football League. The Dolphins struggled to a 6-8 season in 1976 and missed the playoffs in 1977 despite going 10-4. The Dolphins returned to the playoffs in 1978 but lost in the first round to the Oilers. In 1979 the Dolphins won the AFC East but lost to Pittsburgh in the divisional round.
After missing the playoffs in 1980, the Dolphins returned to the playoffs in 1981. In the divisional round against San Diego, the Dolphins got behind 24-0 in the first quarter against Dan Fouts, Kellen Winslow, Wes Chandler and the “Air Coryell” offense. After executing a perfect hook and lateral play at the end of the first half, resulting in a Tony Nathan touchdown, the Dolphins went into halftime down 24-17.

With the Dolphins lining up to kick a game winning field goal at the end of regulation, an exhausted Kellen Winslow blocked the kick to send the game into overtime. Rolf Benirschke won the game after another Uwe von Schammann kick was blocked in overtime to give San Diego the win in what many consider to be the greatest game of all time.
The Dolphins would win the AFC in the strike shortened 1982 season, winning three AFC playoff games. First the Dolphins beat the Patriots, avenging a loss in the infamous “snow plow” game earlier in the season. Then they got even with San Diego for the previous year. In the AFC Championship Game, defensive lineman A.J. Duhe (one of the few players on the “Killer Bs Defense whose name did not begin with a B) won the MVP after picking a Richard Todd pass off and running it in for a touchdown in the Dolphins 14-0 win over the New York Jets in a game known as “The Mud Bowl”.
The Dolphins advanced to their fourth Super Bowl and their second against the Washington Redskins. This time the Skins prevailed after getting a huge game from John Riggins. In that game, the Dolphins Fulton Walker returned the opening kickoff of the second half for a touchdown becoming the first player to accomplish the feat.

The following season, rookie quarterback Dan Marino took over as the starter. By the time he would retire in 1999, he would re-write the records books. Marino led Miami to an AFC Championship (1984), five AFC East titles and 10 playoff appearances.

In 1984, Marino had a season for the ages. He led Miami to a 14-2 record while passing for over 5,000 yards and 48 touchdowns. The Dolphins cruised through the AFC playoffs, beating Seattle 31-10 and Pittsburgh 45-28 in the AFC Championship Game. They lost to San Francisco in the Super Bowl 38-16 in what would be the Dolphins last Super Bowl appearance to this day.

Miami lost in the AFC Championship Game the following year to New England in their final playoff game at the Orange Bowl. Had they won, they would have advanced to the Super Bowl against the Chicago Bears. Miami was the only team to beat the Bears that season, in an epic Monday Night game in Miami. The Bears had an awesome defense that no team could run the ball against effectively. But Marino proved they could be beaten through the air. However, the Patriots were a run oriented team and the Bears had no trouble beating them 46-10.

Miami would lose another AFC Championship Game at home to Buffalo in 1992. After winning the AFC East with a 12-4 record and crushing the Chargers 31-0 in the divisional round of the playoffs, the Dolphins lost to Buffalo in the AFC Championship in an embarrassing 29-10 loss.

In 1994 and 1995 the Dolphins made it back to the playoffs but lost in their first games both times. In ’95 career passing records fell to Marino in yards passing (48,841), touchdowns (352) and completions (3913). 1995 was also Shula’s last as head coach. Jimmy Johnson took over in 1996.

Miami made the playoffs in 1996, 1998 and 1999. In Marino’s last game in the divisional round against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami lost a humiliating 62-7 game. Only the 73-0 win by the Chicago Bears over the Washington Redskins in the 1940 NFL Championship Game was more lopsided in post season history.

Miami has made only three playoff appearances since Marino’s retirement (2000, 2001 and 2008). Players of note in the post Marino era include Jason Taylor, Zach Thomas, Reggie Bush and Ricky Williams.
Ryan Tannehill is the new Dolphins quarterback. Although he has showed some promise in his first two seasons, it is still too early to tell if he can lead Miami back into prominence. He is certainly no Dan Marino, but then again nobody is.

It is hard to believe that the Dolphins have not played in a Super Bowl in almost 30 years. They played in five of the first 19 Super Bowl games, but have not been back to another one. Hopefully Tannehill can get the team back into contention very soon. Please leave a comment at let us know your favorite moment as a fan.

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