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Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins are a National Football League team based in Miami, Florida.

Founded: 1966, as an American Football League expansion team. Entered the NFL as part of the 1970 merger.
Home field: Dolphins Stadium (formerly Pro Player Stadium and Joe Robbie Stadium), Miami
Previous home field: The Orange Bowl Stadium (1966-1986)
Uniform colors: Aqua Green and Orange (Dark Blue was added to the logo and uniforms as an accent color in the late 90's). The Dolphins primarily wear white jerseys at home, except for night contests when they dress in aqua jerseys. Since the 2003 season, the Dolphins have worn an alternate orange jersey once each season for nationally televised contests. They are 2-0 in games wearing the alternate jersey.
Helmet design: A dolphin wearing a football helmet, jumping in front of an orange sunburst
Division titles won: 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1979, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1992, 1994, 2000
Conference championships won: AFC 1971, 1972, 1973, 1982, 1984.
Super Bowl appearances: VI (lost), VII (won), VIII (won), XVII (lost), XIX (lost)

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Franchise history

Miami Dolphins, professional football team and one of the four teams in the Eastern Division of the American Football Conference (AFC) of the National Football League (NFL). The team is named for the dolphins that inhabit the coastal waters of Florida.

For most of their history, the Dolphins were coached by Don Shula, the winningest head coach in professional football history. His Dolphins teams posted losing records in only 2 of his 26 seasons with the club. In 1972 the Dolphins became the first and only NFL team to complete a 14-game regular season (and the entire postseason) without a loss. Five future Hall of Fame members played for Miami during the 1970s, including running back Larry Csonka and quarterback Bob Griese. During the 1980s and 1990s quarterback Dan Marino became the most prolific passer in NFL history. He piloted the Dolphins to numerous playoff appearances and one Super Bowl, and he holds numerous NFL career passing records.

Miami joined the American Football League (AFL) when an expansion team franchise was awarded to lawyer Joseph Robbie and actor Danny Thomas in 1965. The Dolphins began play in 1966, and after four consecutive losing seasons, Don Shula replaced George Wilson as head coach. Miami joined the NFL in 1970 when the NFL and AFL completed their merger.

The 1970s

The Dolphins were a successful team during the early 1970s, capturing the AFC championship in 1971 behind quarterback Bob Griese and wide receiver Paul Warfield. The AFC Divisional Playoff Game, in which the Dolphins defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, was the longest contest in NFL history (82 minutes 40 seconds). In Super Bowl VI, however, Miami lost to the Dallas Cowboys 24-3.

In 1972 the Dolphins accomplished an amazing feat, becoming the first NFL team to finish a season undefeated (the 1948 Cleveland Browns had accomplished the feat, but as members of the All-America Football Conference). (This is sometimes called the "Perfect Season".) Miami went on to win two playoff games and then Super Bowl VII, defeating the Washington Redskins 14-7. During this season, Griese and veteran quarterback Earl Morrall shared the passing duties, and running backs Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris became the first teammates to rush for more than 1,000 yards each. The offensive line included future Hall of Fame members Jim Langer and Larry Little. The 1972 Dolphins defensive unit, called the No-Name Defense because Miami’s impressive offense received much more publicity, was the league’s best that year. It was led by linebacker Nick Buoniconti, end Bill Stanfill , and safeties Dick Anderson and Jake Scott.

The Dolphins won 12 games during the 1973 season and repeated as Super Bowl VIII champions, routing the Minnesota Vikings 24-7. Miami reached the playoffs again in 1974 but lost in the first round to the Oakland Raiders. After the disappointing defeat, several players, including Csonka, Warfield, and running back Jim Kiick , joined the short-lived World Football League. The Dolphins managed to win ten games in 1975, aided by Griese’s consistency and the fine play of wide receiver Nat Moore . They did not make the playoffs however, losing on a tiebreaker to the Baltimore Colts.

Miami rebounded from a losing record in 1976 by winning ten or more games in four of the next five seasons. Shula built a solid defense around a new set of stars, including linebacker A. J. Duhe and linemen Bob Baumhower and Doug Betters. The Dolphins went 10-4 again in 1977, but again lost the division title (and playoff spot) to the Colts. They made the playoffs as a wild card in 1978, but lost in the first round to the Houston Oilers.

Csonka returned to the Dolphins in time for the 1979 season. After winning the division with a 10-6 record, the Dolphins lost the divisional playoff to the eventual champion Pittsburgh Steelers.

The 1980s

In 1980 the late David Woodley took over at quarterback and Griese retired after the season. The Dolphins finished 8-8 and out of the playoffs.

The Dolphins were back on top of the AFC East in the 1981 season, with an 11-4-1 record. They reached the divisional playoff against the San Diego Chargers, regarded by some as one of the most memorable games in NFL history. After being down 24-0, Miami tied it at 24. After taking the lead, San Diego tied it up 38-38 late. Chargers tight end Kellen Winslow, under exhaustion, blocked Uwe von Schummann 's field goal try on the last play of regulation, and Rolf Benirschke kicked the game-winner for San Diego in overtime.

In the strike-shortened season of 1982, the Dolphins, led by the "Killer B's" defense (Baumhower, Bill Barnett , Lyle Blackwood , Kim Bokamper and Bob Brudzinski ), held five of their nine opponents to 14 or fewer points en route to their fourth Super Bowl appearance. During the first two rounds of the playoffs they got revenge for previous losses. Late in the season in a snowy game against the New England Patriots, a convicted felon on work release cleared a path for Patriots kicker John Smith to score the game-winning field goal. In the first round in Miami, they met again, with the Dolphins winning easily. In the second round against San Diego the Dolphins got revenge for their loss the previous year, winning even more handily. After shutting out the New York Jets in the AFC championship, they lost Super Bowl XVII to Washington 27-17. Ironically after enjoying success rooted in a defense-first philosophy, and employing a ball control offense to take pressure off of lacklustre quarterbacks, the next 17 seasons would be marked by an average rushing game and defense that limited a great quarterback.

During the third game of the 1983 season, Shula replaced quarterback David Woodley with rookie Dan Marino, who went on to win the AFC passing championship and rookie of the year award. During the mid-1980s Marino produced the most impressive set of passing statistics in NFL history, setting single-season records for most yards (5,084), touchdown passes (48), and completions (362) during the 1984 season. Seldom sacked by defenders, Marino was protected by an outstanding offensive line as he passed to receivers such as Mark Clayton and Mark Duper. Despite the regular season success (the Dolphins went 12-4, the only team in the AFC East with a winning record), they were upset in the divisional playoff by the Seattle Seahawks. Defensive End Doug Betters was the Defensive Player of the Year.

In 1984, the Dolphins won their first 11 games en route to a 14-2 season. Marino, in his first full season, was voted MVP as he threw for over 5000 yards and 48 touchdowns. Miami beat the Seahawks and Steelers in the playoffs to get to Super Bowl XIX. In the title game, however, Miami lost to the San Francisco 49ers 38-16. It would be Marino's only Super Bowl appearance.

In 1985 Miami went 12-4 and was the only team that beat the Chicago Bears all year. After beating the Cleveland Browns in the divisional playoffs, many people were looking forward to a rematch with Chicago in Super Bowl XX. The cinderella New England Patriots, the Dolphins' opponents in the AFC Championship, had different plans. New England forced 6 turnovers on the way to a 31-14 win - the Patriots' first in Miami since 1969.

In 1986 the Dolphins, hampered by defensive struggles, stumbled to 8-8, out of the playoff picture. The problems continued in 1987, with an 8-7 record in a strike-shortened year; their first at new Joe Robbie Stadium. Miami had their first losing season in years in 1988, and were back to 8-8 in 1989.

The 1990s

By 1990 the Dolphins had finally shaped up on defense, and finished with a 11-5 record, second in the AFC East. They beat the Kansas City Chiefs in the wild card round, but lost to the Buffalo Bills in the divisional playoff. The team struggled with defensive injuries in 1991, and narrowly missed the playoffs on an overtime loss to the New York Jets the final week of the season.

The Dolphins finished 11-5 in 1992, capturing the AFC East title in Mark Higgs ' best season as a running back and Keith Jackson (newly acquired from the Philadelphia Eagles) leading the team in receiving. They beat the Chargers in the divisional playoff, but were stunned by the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship.

1993 turned into a disastrous year for the Dolphins. Both Marino and backup Scott Mitchell suffered season-ending injuries, and Miami lost its final 5 games to miss the playoffs at 9-7. With Marino back for the 1994 season they won the AFC East again with a 10-6 record. After beating the Kansas City Chiefs in the wild card round, they suffered a heart-breaking last-second loss to the San Diego Chargers in the divisional playoff.

In 1995 Marino broke the career passing records formerly held by Fran Tarkenton for yards (48,841), touchdowns (352), and completions (3,913). The Dolphins finished 9-7, second in the AFC East, but still made the playoffs as a wild card; losing to Buffalo in the first round. Following the 1995 season Don Shula became an executive in the Dolphins’ front office. Jimmy Johnson, who had won a collegiate national championship at the University of Miami and two Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys, was named as Shula’s replacement.

In 1996 Miami finished 8-8 and out of the playoffs, with rookie Karim Abdul-Jabbar 's 1000-yard rushing season one of the lone bright spots. In 1997 Miami stumbled late and backed into the playoffs with a 9-7 season, losing to the New England Patriots in the wild card round.

Miami had a solid 10-6 season in 1998 with a career season for receiver O.J. McDuffie , but it was not enough to get past the New York Jets into first place in the division. The Dolphins beat the Bills in the wild card round, but lost to the eventual champion Denver Broncos (who lost only one of two games that season to Miami) in the divisional playoff.

In 1999 Marino would be injured in a game where backup Damon Huard led a comeback. In Marino's first game back, he would have the worst game of his career, on Thanksgiving in Dallas, throwing 5 interceptions and having a passer rating of 0.0. Miami went 2-6 in their last eight games, but still backed into the playoffs at 9-7. After a close win over Seattle in the wild card round, they suffered one the worst playoff losses in NFL history against the Jacksonville Jaguars: 62-7. After the season, Jimmy Johnson left the team and Marino retired.

The 2000s

Dave Wannstedt, formerly of the Chicago Bears, became the new coach; and Jay Fiedler became the new quarterback for the 2000 season. Despite the obviously lowered expectations, the defense broke through with Jason Taylor and Trace Armstrong both getting 10 sacks, and four players (Sam Madison, Brian Walker, Brock Marion and Patrick Surtain) getting at least five interceptions. In addition, Lamar Smith rushed for over 1000 yards and Miami finished atop the AFC East with an 11-5 record. Miami won a tough overtime game over the Indianapolis Colts on a Lamar Smith touchdown in the wild card round, but were shut out by the Oakland Raiders in the divisional playoff.

The 2000 season notwithstanding, late-season collapses have been the norm in Miami since the late 1990s. In the 2001 season the Dolphins lost two games to the New York Jets, which cost them the division title. That honor went to Super Bowl champion New England. Miami had to settle for a wild card, and lost 20-3 to the Baltimore Ravens in the first round.

Miami revitalized its running game in time for the 2002 season by signing running back Ricky Williams from the New Orleans Saints. The Dolphins started the season 5-1 before Fiedler got injured and was replaced by Ray Lucas , who lost three straight. Because the competition in the division was so close, the Dolphins still had a chance to win the division in the final week against the Patriots, but blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead and lost in overtime. Due to a tiebreaker, both the Dolphins and Patriots lost out on the playoffs as the Jets took the AFC East title. Fans wanted Wannstedt's firing, but he was kept on for the 2003 season.

In 2003 the Dolphins again started strong (4-1) but finished weak, with devastating mid-season losses to the Patriots, Colts and Titans submarining them. Miami finished 10-6, but it was still short of a playoff spot. At the end of the season it was announced that Dan Marino would return to the team as its president, but quit after a month.

The 2004 offseason was difficult for the Dolphins. Tight end Randy McMichael was arrested for domestic violence and wide receiver David Boston (signed from San Diego) suffered an injury in training camp and will miss the season (Boston also failed a drug test for steroids later in the season). But the biggest shock came when Ricky Williams retired under mysterious circumstances, probably related to drug use. Many experts predicted a disastrous season for the Dolphins. These predictions proved right; the Dolphins dropped their first six games of the 2004 year, marking the worst start in franchise history. This led to them being dead-last in the NFL as well as the subject to nicknames like "Stinky Fish" and, to fans, "We Stink". After a 1-8 start, Wannstedt resigned on November 9, 2004. He was replaced on an interim basis by defensive coordinator Jim Bates . Under Bates, the Dolphins fared much better, winning three of their final seven games, including a 29-28 upset victory over the defending champion Patriots on December 20. Despite this, the Dolphins decided not to hire Bates for the permanent coaching position. Instead, they hired Louisiana State University coach Nick Saban.

Players of note

Pro Football Hall of Famers:

Current stars:

Retired numbers:

Not to be forgotten:

External links:

Last updated: 10-26-2005 10:14:55
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