This is the fourth of a ten part series dedicated to the worst moments or games in the history of the Buffalo Bills. As hard as some of these moments have been, we Bills fans wear our hearts on sleeves and consider some of these events badges of honor. Enjoy.
The Miami Dolphins. To a Bills fan, the name used to be synonymous with everything terrible in the world. Everyone used to circle both Dolphin games on their calendars. Dolphin week practices were just a bit more intense, a bit more brutal and had a lot more attitude. Bills fans were glued to the radio every day, listening for injury updates and smack talk between the two teams. If you remember, there was plenty of smack talk. PLENTY.
Sadly, the rivalry that was has been reduced to a side note for the better part of a decade. This is mostly due to both teams having not been relevant for the past twelve years. The ironic thing is both teams run a lot of parallels. The Bills and Dolphins both have been to the playoffs sparingly over the past decade, with Buffalo going zero times. Both teams have been searching for their franchise quarterback since their greats in Kelly and Marino retired. Both teams more often than not have been the laughingstock of the league. To sum it up, both teams have sucked. For a long time.
The 90’s provided the best of the best in Bills versus Dolphins match ups. The rivalry was among the league’s most watched and provided memorable Kelly versus Marino hall of fame shootouts. The teams met four times in the playoffs, with Buffalo winning three out of four. Most of the games have gone down in Bills lore including winning the 1993 AFC Championship in Miami and linebacker Bryan Cox flipping the bird to the Bills faithful in 1993. Another memorable moment from the 90’s involves Miami safety Louis Oliver sending shirts encouraging the Houston Oilers to defeat the Bills in the last game of the 1993 season so Miami could clinch the AFC East. Good news and bad news befell both teams. The good news was Houston did win. The bad news is Houston had to travel to Buffalo the next week where the Bills completed the greatest comeback in NFL history and proceeded to make it to Miami to defeat the Dolphins in the AFC title game. Be careful what you wish for.
The 1990’s version of the Bills and Dolphins rivalry wasn’t a new thing, it was just the best. This rivalry started in the 1970’s with Miami doing the unthinkable. Take all the bad things you can think of, all the heartache that one team can bring on and times that by a hundred. The Bills never beat the Dolphins in the 70’s. NEVER.
I’m 28. I didn’t live through it. I just get horrified by the tales my dad would tell me. He would sum it all up by saying “you think New England is bad, just think of not beating the Dolphins for a whole decade.” Of course he is talking about our massive losing streak to the Patriots that was just snapped last season. The Miami streak was longer. Now that’s a scary thought.
The Dolphins beat the Bills twenty times, twelve of those times by ten or more points. The rest were heart breakers. The Dolphins beat the Bills by a mere point in their 1972 undefeated season. In 1978, the Bills lost again by a mere point to break the league record for most times in a row one team had defeated another. In 1974, Buffalo backup quarterback Gary Marangi threw the game tying touchdown in the final minute in Miami, only to have the Dolphins drive for the winning touchdown 37 seconds later. 1979 saw the Dolphins win a 17-7 contest to complete the 70’s dominance.
Then in the 1980 home opener, ironically enough my dad’s first of a fifteen year season ticket holder, the Bills beat an aging Dolphins team for the first time in 21 games. The Bills scored two touchdowns in the final quarter. After the game fans rushed the field and tore the goalposts down. I was hoping to see that after defeating New England to end the streak, but apparently security was expecting that and kept it under wraps. My dad was on the field, basking in the glory that was defeating Miami.
If you sit and think about it, both streaks have a lot in common. There were blowouts and heart breakers. Both were painfully long and I’m sure like New England, the Miami streak felt like it was NEVER going to end. The worst thing is the difference in both streaks was the fact that Miami didn’t have a central villain. You can point to New England and say Tom Brady and almost all Bills fans can probably agree that once he goes it will most likely get easier to beat New England on a regular basis. But in the 70’s, Miami just beat the Bills year in and year out no matter who was playing.
As part of an homage to the old time Bills fans but mostly to the length, I dub the Miami streak the absolute worst. We broke the New England streak, but hopefully the Bills don’t start another streak that reaches Miami’s epic levels.