The 1980 NFL season would see the Dolphins drop to an 8–8 record, from their 10–6 showing the previous year.
Quarterback Bob Griese, who struggled with leg problems during 1979, lost the starting job to longtime backup Don Strock, but he did poorly in two games, leading the Dolphins to return to Griese for Week 3. In Week 5, however, Griese suffered a career-ending shoulder injury against the Baltimore Colts and was succeeded by David Woodley, a rookie fresh from LSU.
The final game of the season was played against the New York Jets on December 20. NBC tried a novel experiment by broadcasting the game with no commentators, and with none of the players or staff wearing microphones. The effect was to give television viewers the feel of actually being in the stadium. To date, this was the only NFL game ever aired on TV without commentaries. The Jets won by a score of 24–17, costing the Dolphins a chance at a playoff berth.
It was during the Monday Night Football game on December 8, 1980 against the Patriots that Howard Cosell announced that John Lennon has been shot and killed.