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Bills–Dolphins rivalry

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bills–Dolphins rivalry
First meetingSeptember 18, 1966
Bills 58, Dolphins 24
Latest meetingNovember 17, 2019
Bills 37, Dolphins 20
Next meeting2020
Meetings total112 meetings[1]
All-time seriesDolphins, 61–50–1
Postseason resultsBills, 3–1
Largest victoryDolphins, 45–7 (1970)
Current win streakBills, 3
Playoff and Championship Success
AFL Championships (2)

Super Bowl Championships (2)

Super Bowl Appearances (9)

AFL Eastern Division Championships (3) (1960–1969)

AFC East Divisional Championships (21) (1970–present)

AFC Wild Card Berths (16) (1970–present)

The Bills–Dolphins rivalry is a National Football League (NFL) rivalry between the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins. The teams, who are members of the American Football Conference East Division, play two games against one another per season.[4] In the 108 regular season games between the teams in the series, the Dolphins lead 60–47–1 as of 2019.[5] The teams have also met four times in the NFL playoffs. The Bills are 3–1 in the postseason, including a victory in the 1992 AFC Championship Game.


1966–69: The AFL days

After Miami joined the American Football League (AFL) for the 1966 season, it played against Buffalo for the first time on September 18. The host Bills posted 48 points in the first half of the game, and won 58–24.[6] In the second game between the teams, and the first to be played in Miami, the Bills shut out the Dolphins 29–0.[1] The following year, Miami defeated Buffalo for the first time; a late 31-yard Bob Griese touchdown pass to Howard Twilley gave the Dolphins a 17–14 win.[7] In 1968, the teams played to a 14–14 tie, the only one in the rivalry. After two consecutive Dolphins victories, the Bills won the teams' second game in 1969, 28–3.[1] The game, which featured two receiving touchdowns by O. J. Simpson, proved to be their last win in the series for 11 years.[6]

1970–79: Complete dominance by Miami

Following the 1969 season, the AFL and NFL completed the AFL–NFL merger by re-aligning the NFL's divisions. The Bills and Dolphins joined the NFL's new AFC East division, guaranteeing that they would play twice per year, once at each team's home stadium.[8] In the 1970s, Miami won all 20 meetings between the teams; 12 of the victories came by 10 or more points.[1] One of the most notable games of this period came in 1972, the year the Dolphins completed an undefeated season. The closest game by final score that Miami played during the season was its first game against the Bills, a 24–23 Dolphins win in the Miami Orange Bowl. Two years later, the Orange Bowl hosted a contest that Chris Iorfida of CBC Sports later called "A rare competitive game between the clubs during the mid- to late-1970s, and an exciting one."[6] The Dolphins held a 28–21 lead when Bills reserve quarterback Gary Marangi passed for the tying touchdown in the final minute of the game. Miami responded 37 seconds later with a 23-yard Don Nottingham run for the touchdown that gave the team a 35–28 win.[6]

By November 1978, the Dolphins' winning streak in the series had reached 17 games, a mark tied for the longest streak in NFL history for one team against another. The press in the Buffalo area frequently noted this fact.[9] The Dolphins broke the record with a 25–24 result in Buffalo's Rich Stadium on November 12 of that year.[10] With 9–7 and 17–7 victories in 1979, Miami's streak reached 20 by the end of the decade.[1]

1980–89: Bills turn the corner and the emergence of Marino and Kelly

On September 7, 1980, the Bills recorded their first victory versus the Dolphins in 21 games, after failing to win a single game against them during the 1970s. With a pair of touchdowns in the final quarter, Buffalo won 17–7.[4] After the conclusion, fans at Rich Stadium rushed the field in celebration, tearing down one of the goal posts in the process.[11] In 1983, the Dolphins hosted the Bills in rookie Dan Marino's first NFL start. The Dolphins overcame a 14–0 gap to lead 35–28 in the final minute before Bills quarterback Joe Ferguson led a game-tying comeback. The game in the Miami Orange Bowl went to overtime, where Dolphins placekicker Uwe von Schamann was unsuccessful on two potential game-winning field goal attempts. The Bills won 38–35 when Joe Danelo made a 36-yard field goal attempt late in overtime;[12] it was Buffalo's first road win in the rivalry for 17 years. Ferguson had 419 yards passing and five touchdowns in the game; the former set a franchise record.[4] Other than those two contests, Miami won 11 of the other 12 games between the teams from 1980–86.[1] United Press International termed the matchup "one of pro football's most lopsided rivalries" in 1983.[13] The Bills, however, won the series' last six games in the 1980s.[1] The first of those came in October 1987, when the Bills won 34–31 in overtime after trailing the Dolphins 21–0 in the first half; the game featured six combined touchdown passes by the teams' quarterbacks, Marino of Miami and Jim Kelly of Buffalo.[6][14] One of the final games between the Bills and Dolphins in the decade was a 1989 encounter in which Kelly ran two yards for a touchdown on the last play of the contest, giving the Bills a 27–24 victory.[15]

1990–99: Fight for AFC supremacy

Jim Kelly (top) and Dan Marino (bottom) were leading figures in the rivalry during their careers.

Most of the 1990s games between the teams featured the quarterback play of Marino and Kelly, who became key figures in the rivalry.[15][16][17] From 1986 to 1996, they had a total of 21 matchups, counting postseason games.[16] In the 1990 playoffs, the Bills and Dolphins met for the first time in the postseason. Buffalo won the divisional round game, held at Rich Stadium, 44–34, as Kelly threw for three touchdowns.[18] Two seasons later, the teams met again in the playoffs, this time in the AFC Championship Game. Players from both teams commented on the rivalry's intensity at the time; Richmond Webb, a Miami offensive lineman, said, "I don't know how it got started – it was a long time before I got here – but these two teams don't like each other. It's like the Game of the Year every time we play them."[19] Before the Bills' last regular season game against the Houston Oilers, Miami safety Louis Oliver had shirts delivered to Oilers players, encouraging them to defeat the Bills; the Oilers did just that, winning 27–3 and allowing the Dolphins to finish first in the AFC East. In response, Bills running back Thurman Thomas said it was "typical of the Miami Dolphins ... to have someone else do their dirty work."[20][21] A week later, the Oilers raced to a 35–3 lead but collapsed in a 41–38 loss to the Bills in the wild card playoff round,[22] then on January 17, 1993 at Joe Robbie Stadium, the Bills defeated the Dolphins 29–10 to advance to their third consecutive Super Bowl.[23]

The first game in the series in the 1993 season, in Rich Stadium, saw an incident where Miami linebacker Bryan Cox gestured at Bills fans, having previously said that he would "retire from football if I am ever traded up there."[24] Multiple Dolphins players later said the spectators responded in a similar fashion towards them.[24] After a 22–13 Dolphins victory over the Bills, sportswriter Bill Plaschke called the game "a considerable step toward making their rivalry the ugliest in the league".[24] The teams met twice more in the playoffs during the 1990s. On December 30, 1995, Buffalo broke the league record for rushing yards in a game with 341, winning 37–22. This was Dolphins head coach Don Shula's last game in the NFL. Three seasons later, the teams met at Pro Player Stadium on January 2, 1999 for their fourth playoff game of the decade, which the Dolphins won 24–17 after forcing five Bills turnovers.[6][15] In regular season games during the decade, the Bills held a 12–8 win–loss advantage.[1]

2000–09: Decline

Bills quarterback J. P. Losman (number 7) takes a snap against Miami in 2007.
Bills quarterback J. P. Losman (number 7) takes a snap against Miami in 2007.
Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne (number 7) takes the snap as the Bills defense blitzes during a game in 2010.
Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne (number 7) takes the snap as the Bills defense blitzes during a game in 2010.

When the NFL reshuffled its divisions after the Houston Texans joined, there was talk of the Bills moving to the AFC North, but Bills owner Ralph Wilson wanted to keep the Bills–Dolphins rivalry active, and thus, the Bills remained in the division.[25] However, the rivalry declined sharply during the 2000s.[26][27] This decade was marked by the aftermath of the retirements of Kelly and Marino from the Bills and Dolphins, respectively. The Buffalo News later wrote that the rivalry had begun declining after the end of their careers.[27] On the NFL's website, Nick Bakay attributed this to the reduced success of the Bills and Dolphins in the following years, as there were only three playoff appearances by either team in the 2000s.[28][29] Each team won half of the 20 games in the series during the 2000s.[1] In 2008, the Bills hosted Miami at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada; it was the first time the country had been the site of a regular season NFL game. Miami won the contest 16–3.[30]

2010–present: Most recent games

Bills placekicker Dan Carpenter attempts a kick against the Dolphins in 2014.
Bills placekicker Dan Carpenter attempts a kick against the Dolphins in 2014.

The teams split their two contests in 2010, while the Dolphins won both of their 2011 matchups. Since then the Bills have won eleven of the last sixteen games.[1]

In 2013, quarterback Thad Lewis started in place of injured Bills starter EJ Manuel for both of their games against the Dolphins. This was notable as Lewis had grown up in Miami.[31] Coincidentally, the Bills won both games. The first game was marked by a late-game strip-sack of Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill by Bills defender Mario Williams to set up the Bills' game-winning field goal, and the second was a 19–0 shutout by Buffalo.[32][33]

During an October 23, 2016 match-up between the two teams, the Bills had a 17–6 lead at one point in the third quarter, but a career game from Miami running back Jay Ajayi helped the Dolphins to come back in the fourth quarter, winning 28–25. Ajayi became just the fourth running back in NFL history to rush for 200 yards in back-to-back games, as he had rushed for over 200 in the prior game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.[34] The game also featured a hit on Bills safety Aaron Williams from Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry that ended Williams' season and ultimately led to his retirement.[35][36] On December 24, 2016, the Dolphins won their first game in Buffalo since 2011.[1] The Dolphins won a close game 34–31 in overtime to move to 10–5 on the year and clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2008 with a Denver Broncos loss the next day.[37][38] Buffalo, on the other hand, was eliminated from the postseason with the loss despite posting a franchise record 589 yards of offense in a single game. Its defense allowed a 57-yard run from Ajayi in overtime with only 10 defenders on the field, which set up Miami's game-winning field goal.[37] Shortly after the game, the Bills fired head coach Rex Ryan.[39]

The Bills and Dolphins did not meet again until Week 15 in the 2017 season.[1][40] During the game, which also carried playoff implications, Bills running back LeSean McCoy topped 10,000 career rushing yards, becoming just the 30th NFL running back to do so.[41] Buffalo won 24–16 as Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler threw three interceptions.[42] Two weeks later, a fight ensued after a Dolphins touchdown in the fourth quarter that led to the ejections of Landry and his teammate Kenyan Drake.[43] After staving off a Dolphins comeback, the Bills clinched their first playoff berth in 18 years with a win in Miami, along with a Cincinnati Bengals victory over the Baltimore Ravens.[44]

On December 2, 2018, Bills tight end and former Dolphin Charles Clay dropped a potential game winning pass from rookie quarterback Josh Allen, allowing a 21–17 Dolphins victory in Miami Gardens.[45] During the rematch on December 30, Dolphins linebacker and former Bill Kiko Alonso collided with a sliding Allen, which drew a penalty and led to another fight which saw Alonso and two other players ejected. The Bills won this game 42–17.[46][47] The day after this game, Miami fired head coach Adam Gase.[48] The Bills rounded out the 2010s decade with a season sweep in 2019, winning 31–21 in Buffalo on October 20 despite Miami staying competitive under former Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick,[49] and 37–20 in Miami on November 17.[50]


Iorfida wrote in 2008 that the Bills and Dolphins had "one of the stranger rivalries in sports" due to the differences between Buffalo and Miami.[6] In 1980, The Miami News' Joe Crittenden referred to "the contrast between the two cities – Miami, the resort center in the subtropics and Buffalo, the snowfall capital of the east".[11] He wrote that, when the Dolphins were building their 20-game winning streak in the 1970s, the differences contributed to the "intensity" of the rivalry.[11] The CBC also noted the long distance between the teams' cities as an oddity.[6] Despite this distance, they are both members of the AFC East, and have played at least two games per year since the Dolphins first joined the AFL.[4] Games between the Bills and Dolphins were often significant in the league standings during the 1980s and 1990s, and Monday Night Football had nine games from the rivalry during the period.[51]

The Bills–Dolphins rivalry has been called the most significant for Buffalo;[6] Bakay, a Bills fan from the city, called Miami the Bills' "most hated divisional rival".[29] In addition to their rivalry with the Bills, the Dolphins share one with the New York Jets, who "might be the most bitter foe for Miami", according to the CBC.[6] Dolphins player Oliver offered a different assessment in 1993, saying "It's the biggest rivalry we have, us and Buffalo."[20] In addition, both teams share rivalries with the New England Patriots.[52][53]

Connections between the teams

Several players have played for both teams at some point in their careers, including:

Season-by-season results

Buffalo Bills vs. Miami Dolphins Season-by-Season Results


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x "Boxscore finder: Buffalo Bills vs Miami Dolphins". Pro Football Reference. Retrieved March 2, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Buffalo Bills Franchise Encyclopedia". Pro Football Reference. Retrieved March 25, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Miami Dolphins Franchise Encyclopedia". Pro Football Reference. Retrieved March 25, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d "Throwback Game of the Week – Dolphins at Bills". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on June 4, 2011. Retrieved January 27, 2018.
  5. ^ "Miami Dolphins Head To Head Records". Pro Football Reference. Retrieved December 2, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Iorfida, Chris (November 29, 2008). "1st and 15: Bills–Dolphins history". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved March 1, 2010.
  7. ^ "Dolphins Defeat Buffalo, 17–14". Spartanburg Herald. Associated Press. November 27, 1967. p. 10. Retrieved March 1, 2010.
  8. ^ "Realignment Completed: Football Solves Jigsaw Puzzle". St. Petersburg Times. Associated Press. January 17, 1970. pp. 1C, 3C. Retrieved March 2, 2010.
  9. ^ Otterson, Chuck (November 11, 1978). "Dolphins Hope To Continue Dominance". Lakeland Ledger.
  10. ^ Otterson, Chuck (November 14, 1978). "Dolphins' Start, Finish: Classic Deja Vu". The Palm Beach Post.
  11. ^ a b c Crittenden, John (September 8, 1980). "Bills' victory brings sunshine to Buffalo". The Miami News.
  12. ^ "Bills beat Marino, Dolphins". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. October 10, 1983. p. 13. Retrieved May 26, 2010.
  13. ^ "Dolphins vs. Bills: a lopsided rivalry". Bulletin Journal. United Press International. September 4, 1983. p. 9B. Retrieved March 2, 2010.
  14. ^ Mannix, Vin (October 26, 1987). "Dolphins turn clock too far". Boca Raton News. pp. 1D, 3D. Retrieved July 22, 2011.
  15. ^ a b c Crawley, Patrick (November 13, 2014). "Top 5 Buffalo Bills–Miami Dolphins games of all-time". National Football League. Retrieved December 18, 2015.
  16. ^ a b Jarmuz, Ted (January 16, 2014). "This generation's Kelly vs. Marino". Buffalo Bills. Archived from the original on November 7, 2017. Retrieved July 29, 2018.
  17. ^ Kirst, Sean (December 16, 1995). "Dolphins vs. Bills: This phase of great football drama in final act". The Post-Standard. Retrieved November 3, 2017.
  18. ^ Berkow, Ira (January 13, 1991). "Sports of The Times; The Weather Didn't Matter at All". The New York Times. Retrieved July 29, 2018.
  19. ^ Wilner, Barry (January 14, 1993). "Dolphins have respect and grudge for Bills". The Dispatch. p. 4B. Retrieved March 3, 2010.
  20. ^ a b Banks, Don (January 16, 1993). "Oliver relishes this matchup". St. Petersburg Times. p. 5C. Retrieved March 3, 2010.
  21. ^ Smith, Timothy W. (December 31, 1992). "Pro Football; Injury-Plagued Bills Again Turn to Their Super Sub". The New York Times. Retrieved July 22, 2011.
  22. ^ Carucci, Vic (January 1, 2005). "Bills – Greatest Comeback". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved July 29, 2018.
  23. ^ Vecsey, George (January 18, 1993). "Sports of the Times; Bills Are No Ordinary Wild Card". The New York Times. Retrieved March 3, 2010.
  24. ^ a b c Plaschke, Bill (September 27, 1993). "The Dolphins Take Out Their Trash on Bills, 22–13". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 29, 2018.
  25. ^ Brown, Chris (September 11, 2014). "10 things you may not know about the Bills–Dolphins rivalry". Buffalo Bills. Archived from the original on September 16, 2017. Retrieved July 29, 2018.
  26. ^ Matthews, Bob (December 3, 2005). "The buzz fades for Bills–Dolphins rivalry". Democrat and Chronicle. p. 31. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
  27. ^ a b "Bills–Dolphins rivalry has lost luster since Kelly retired". The Buffalo News. October 20, 2013. p. B16.
  28. ^ Sports Illustrated 2011 Almanac. Time Home Entertainment Inc. 2010. pp. 157–158. ISBN 978-1-60320-863-5.
  29. ^ a b Bakay, Nick. "Fans are the last ones to leave". National Football League. Archived from the original on March 3, 2009. Retrieved September 24, 2016.
  30. ^ Brady, Erik (December 7, 2008). "Dolphins outshine 'host' Bills in Toronto to forge first-place tie". USA Today. Retrieved March 4, 2010.
  31. ^ Maiorana, Sal (October 20, 2013). "Buffalo Bills QB Thad Lewis comes home to Miami". Democrat and Chronicle. Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  32. ^ "Mario Williams' key sack helps Buffalo Bills beat Miami Dolphins 23–21". The Post-Standard. Associated Press. October 20, 2013. Retrieved December 18, 2017.
  33. ^ "Bills damage rival Dolphins' playoff chances with dominant defense". ESPN. Associated Press. December 23, 2013. Retrieved September 6, 2015.
  34. ^ "Ajayi rushes for 214 yards to help Miami beat Bills 28–25". ESPN. Associated Press. October 23, 2016. Retrieved October 24, 2016.
  35. ^ Maiorana, Sal (November 1, 2016). "Bills sign WR Percy Harvin, place Aaron Williams on IR". Democrat and Chronicle. Retrieved November 12, 2016.
  36. ^ Rodak, Mike (January 31, 2018). "Ex-Bills safety Aaron Williams retiring due to head and neck injuries from crackback block". ESPN. Retrieved August 21, 2018.
  37. ^ a b "Franks' field goal seals Dolphins' 34–31 OT win over Bills". ESPN. Associated Press. December 24, 2016. Retrieved December 26, 2016.
  38. ^ Wine, Steven (December 25, 2016). "Miami Dolphins earn 1st playoff berth since 2008 with Denver Broncos loss". The Denver Post. Associated Press. Retrieved December 26, 2016.
  39. ^ Bondy, Filip (December 27, 2016). "Buffalo Bills Fire Coach Rex Ryan, Slamming Door on a Boisterous Presence". The New York Times. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
  40. ^ Walansky, Larry (December 16, 2017). "Dolphins Game Preview: Week 15 vs. Bills". WTVJ. Retrieved December 18, 2017.
  41. ^ Bronstein, Jonah (December 17, 2017). "Buffalo Bills RB LeSean McCoy passes 10,000 yards mark in win over Miami Dolphins". United Press International. Retrieved December 18, 2017.
  42. ^ Beasley, Adam H. (December 17, 2017). "Playoffs? Forget about it after Cutler throws 3 picks, Dolphins lose to Bills 24–16". Miami Herald. Retrieved December 18, 2017.
  43. ^ Perkins, Chris (December 31, 2017). "Landry, Drake ejected after brawl as Dolphins fall to Bills; end season on 3-game losing streak". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  44. ^ Wine, Steven (January 1, 2018). "Bills end 17-year playoff drought with win and help". MSN. Associated Press. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
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