The Bills–Dolphins rivalry is a National Football League (NFL) rivalry between the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins franchises. The teams, who are both members of the American Football Conference East Division, play two games against one another per season.[1] In the 92 regular season games between the teams in the series, the Dolphins hold a 55–36–1 head-to-head advantage as of December 2011.[2] The teams have also met four times in the NFL playoffs. The Bills are 3–1 in the postseason contests, including a victory in the 1992 AFC Championship Game.


1966 to 1969Edit

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.[3] In the second game between the teams, and the first to be played in Miami, the Bills shut out the Dolphins 29–0.[4] 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.[5] In 1968, the teams played to a 14–14 tie, the only one in the history of the rivalry. After two consecutive Dolphins victories, the Bills won the teams' second game in 1969, 28–3.[4] The game, which featured two receiving touchdowns by O. J. Simpson, proved to be their last win in the series for 11 years.[3]

1970 to 1979Edit

Following the 1969 season, the AFL and NFL completed their 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.[6] In the 1970s, Miami won all 20 meetings between the teams; 12 of the victories came by 10 or more points.[4] 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."[3] 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.[3]

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.[7] The Dolphins broke the record with a 25–24 result in Buffalo's Rich Stadium on November 12 of that year.[8] With 9–7 and 17–7 victories in 1979, Miami's streak reached 20 games by the end of the decade.[4]

1980 to 1989Edit

On September 7, 1980, the Bills recorded their first victory versus the Dolphins in 21 games. With a pair of touchdowns in the final quarter, Buffalo won 17–7.[1] After the conclusion, fans at Rich Stadium rushed the field in celebration, tearing down one of the goal posts in the process.[9] 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 extended 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;[10] 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.[1] Other than those two contests, Miami won 11 of the other 12 games between the teams from 1980 to 1986.[4] United Press International termed the matchup "one of pro football's most lopsided rivalries" in 1983.[11] The Bills, however, won the series' last six games in the 1980s.[4] 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.[3][12] The last of the contests for the decade was a 1989 game decided by a two-yard rushing touchdown by Kelly as time expired.[13]

1990 to 1999Edit

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.[14] 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."[15] 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; host Houston did win the game 27–3, giving the Dolphins the AFC East title. In response, Bills running back Thurman Thomas said it was "typical of the Miami Dolphins ... to have someone else do their dirty work."[16][17] A week later, the Oilers fell 41–38 to the Bills in the wild card playoff round,[18] then on January 17, 1993 at Joe Robbie Stadium, the Bills defeated the Dolphins 29–10 to advance to their third consecutive Super Bowl.[19]

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."[20] Multiple Dolphins players later said the spectators responded in a similar fashion towards them.[21] 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".[20] 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 league. 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.[3] In regular season games during the decade, the Bills held a 10–8 won–loss advantage.[4]

2000 to 2011Edit

In 2006, Buffalo's home game against the Dolphins did not sell out, leading the Niagara Gazette's Pat Murray to write that the rivalry had declined.[22] On the NFL's website, Nick Bakay attributed this to the reduced success of the Bills and Dolphins in the time period.[23] Each team won half of the 20 games in the series during the 2000s.[4] 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.[24] The most recent game between the teams was a 30–23 Dolphins victory in Buffalo on December 18, 2011.[25]


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.[3] 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".[9] 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.[9] The CBC also noted the long distance between the teams' cities as an oddity.[3] 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.[1] 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.[26]

The Bills–Dolphins rivalry has been called the most significant for Buffalo;[3] Bakay, a Bills fan from the city, called Miami the Bills' "most hated divisional rival".[23] 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.[3] Dolphins player Oliver offered a different assessment in 1993, saying "It's the biggest rivalry we have, us and Buffalo."[16] In addition, both teams share rivalries with the New England Patriots.[27][28]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Throwback Game of the Week – Dolphins at Bills". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved March 1, 2010.
  2. "Miami Dolphins Head-to-Head Records". Pro Football Reference. Retrieved December 12, 2011.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 Iorfida, Chris (November 29, 2008). "1st and 15: Bills–Dolphins history". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved March 1, 2010.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 "Boxscore finder: Buffalo Bills vs Miami Dolphins". Pro Football Reference. Retrieved March 2, 2010.
  5. "Dolphins Defeat Buffalo, 17–14". Spartanburg Herald. Associated Press.,5027301&dq=bills+dolphins&hl=en. Retrieved March 1, 2010.
  6. "Realignment Completed: Football Solves Jigsaw Puzzle". St. Petersburg Times. Associated Press. January 17, 1970.,5052647&dq=nfl+division&hl=en. Retrieved March 2, 2010.
  7. Otterson, Chuck (November 11, 1978). "Dolphins Hope To Continue Dominance". Lakeland Ledger.,3634200&dq=dolphins+bills+rivalry&hl=en. Retrieved March 2, 2010.
  8. Otterson, Chuck (November 14, 1978). "Dolphins' Start, Finish: Classic Deja Vu". The Palm Beach Post.,2290030&dq=bills+dolphins&hl=en. Retrieved March 2, 2010.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Crittenden, John (September 8, 1980). "Bills' victory brings sunshine to Buffalo". The Miami News.,2424999&dq=dolphins+bills+rivalry&hl=en. Retrieved March 2, 2010.
  10. "Bills beat Marino, Dolphins". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. October 10, 1983.,2378646. Retrieved May 26, 2010.
  11. "Dolphins vs. Bills: a lopsided rivalry". Bulletin Journal. United Press International. September 4, 1983.,334542&dq=dolphins+bills+rivalry&hl=en. Retrieved March 2, 2010.
  12. Mannix, Vin (October 26, 1987). "Dolphins turn clock too far". Boca Raton News.,7730050. Retrieved July 22, 2011.
  13. "Kelly, Bills sneak past Miami". The Milwaukee Sentinel. Associated Press. September 11, 1989.,2922960&dq=dolphins+bills+rivalry&hl=en. Retrieved March 3, 2010.
  14. Berkow, Ira (January 13, 1991). "Sports of The Times; The Weather Didn't Matter at All". The New York Times. Retrieved March 2, 2011.
  15. Wilner, Barry (January 14, 1993). "Dolphins have respect and grudge for Bills". The Dispatch.,1164378&dq=dolphins+bills+rivalry&hl=en. Retrieved March 3, 2010.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Banks, Don (January 16, 1993). "Oliver relishes this matchup". St. Petersburg Times.,250010&dq=bills+dolphins+rivalry&hl=en. Retrieved March 3, 2010.
  17. 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.
  18. "History: The NFL's Greatest Comeback". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved June 22, 2011.
  19. Vecsey, George (January 18, 1993). "Sports of the Times; Bills Are No Ordinary Wild Card". The New York Times. Retrieved March 3, 2010.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Plaschke, Bill (September 27, 1993). "The Dolphins Take Out Their Trash on Bills, 22–13 (page 1)". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 4, 2010.
  21. Plaschke, Bill (September 27, 1993). "The Dolphin Take Out Their Trash on Bills, 22–13 (page 2)". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 4, 2010.
  22. Murray, Pat (December 14, 2006). "Bills–Dolphins is no longer a rivalry". Niagara Gazette. Retrieved March 4, 2010.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Bakay, Nick. "Fans are the last ones to leave". National Football League. Retrieved March 4, 2010.
  24. Brady, Erik (December 7, 2008). "Dolphins outshine 'host' Bills in Toronto to forge first-place tie". USA Today. Retrieved March 4, 2010.
  25. "Reggie Bush rushes for career-best 203 yards as Dolphins beat Bills". ESPN. Associated Press. December 18, 2011. Retrieved December 18, 2011.
  26. Graham, Tim (December 19, 2011). "Day of the Dolphin rivalry fading". The Buffalo News. Retrieved December 19, 2011.
  27. Murray, Vince (April 23, 2002). "Bledsoe trade fuels the Bills–Patriots rivalry". Ocala Star-Banner.,3888558. Retrieved March 26, 2010.
  28. "Dolphins–Patriots rivalry renewed". Bangor Daily News. Associated Press. September 8, 1995.,2617869. Retrieved March 2, 2011.

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