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Top 5 memorable Bills-Dolphins rivalry games

Posted Dec 19, 2013

In the week leading up to a chilly December 22 Bills-Dolphins matchup at the Ralph, here's a look back at some of the most memorable games in the longstanding rivalry.

1) September 10, 1989: 27-24 W
Joe Robbie Stadium, Miami, FL. 82°

Week 1 of the 1989 NFL season brought the Bills down to Miami to face the Dolphins. The Bills were down 24-13 in the 4th quarter until Jim Kelly threw a touchdown pass to Flip Johnson to put the Bills back in the game. Miami was leading 24-20 with 2 minutes left when the Bills defense made a clutch play to change the game. The Bills had no timeouts remaining and the Dolphins could put the Bills out of the game with a first down. On a 3rdand 8, Dan Marino tossed the ball for the game clinching first down only to have Nate Odomes pick him off and return the ball to the Bills 49. Jim Kelly drove the offense down the field all the way to the 4 yard line and managed to spike the ball with 2 seconds left. After a Dolphins penalty, the Bills had time for one more play to win the game. Lined up in the shotgun, Jim Kelly ran a QB draw play through the Dolphins defense and leaped between two defenders for the game-winning touchdown.

2) January 17, 1993
AFC Championship Game: 29-10 W
Joe Robbie Stadium, Miami, FL. 75°

In their third consecutive trip to the AFC Championship, the Bills headed down to Miami for chance to advance to the Super Bowl yet again. It turned out to be a dominant day for the Bills defense. Dan Marino was intercepted twice, on top of getting sacked four times. The defense also recovered 3 fumbles while holding Miami to only 33 rushing yards. With Jim Kelly returning from injury, the offense started out slow, but held a 13-3 lead after two quarters. The Bills caught a break at the start of second half when the Dolphins fumbled the kickoff and Carwell Gardner recovered at Dolphins 25. Buffalo would score on a 2 yard touchdown run to expand their lead to 20-3. Marino had a touchdown in the 4th but it was too little too late. Steve Christie’s two field goals in the 2nd half were enough to preserve the win. Christie tied the NFL playoff record with 5 field goals.


3) September 7, 1980: 17-7 W
Rich Stadium, Orchard Park, NY. 64°

In the opener of 1980 season, the Bills looked to take down the Dolphins for the first time since 1969. Miami was riding a 20 game win streak versus Buffalo, and it looked as if the Bills might extend that streak to 21, until things got interesting at the end of the fourth quarter. The Bills scored 2 touchdowns in the last 3:42 of regulation to snatch victory from the Dolphins. A huge win for the team resulted in the fans storming the field and ultimately tearing down the goal posts at Rich Stadium. Team owner Ralph Wilson, Jr. was as thrilled as the fans were. “It’s the biggest win this club’s ever had,” he commented. “Bigger than the AFL championships. I’ll be happy to buy new goal posts.”

4) January 12, 1991
AFC Divisional Playoffs: 44-34 W
Rich Stadium, Orchard Park, NY. 31°

The first playoff meeting between these two teams can be remembered as a shootout between Jim Kelly and Dan Marino. The Bills struck first with a 40 yard touchdown reception by Andre Reed.They grew their lead to 20-3 early on in the 2nd quarter with Thurman’s 5-yard rushing touchdown. Before halftime arrived, Jim Kelly threw a 13 yard TD pass to receiver James Lofton. Dan Marino countered with a 2 yard touchdown run to close out the first half, cutting the Bills lead to 27-17. After exchanging one field goal apiece in the 3rd, the Dolphins were able to get close in the 4th quarter as they diminished the Bills lead down to 3 points. The score sat at 30-27, but once again, the Bills responded with another 5-yard touchdown by Thurman Thomas. Miami fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Jim Kelly took advantage of the great field position by launching a 26-yard touchdown pass to Andre Reed that sealed the victory and a spot in the AFC Championship game.


5) December 30, 1995
AFC Wild Card Playoffs: 37-22 W
Rich Stadium, Orchard Park, NY. 30°

The rival Dolphins came to Buffalo for their third playoff matchup in five years. The Bills came out firing, and lead 24-0 at half. The Bills managed to get a field goal, and held the Dolphins scoreless in the third, to bump their lead up to 27-0. Miami put together 22 points in the 4th quarter but it wasn’t enough to catch up to the Bills hot start. The Bills were extremely successful on the ground, totaling 341 yards rushing; the second highest amount in post-season history. It was a big game for Steve Tasker as well. Primarily an outstanding special teams player, Tasker racked up 108 YDS and one touchdown; the first 100 yard receiving game of his career. It was the final game of Dolphins head coach Don Shula’s career.

HONORABLE MENTION:
December 1, 2002: 38-21 W
Ralph Wilson Stadium, Orchard Park, NY. 25°

For obvious reasons, we all remember this one…