Two great AFC East Rivals go head to head with each other this coming Monday. With Miami’s record of 6-5, there is no doubt about it that this weeks’ game against the New York Jets is a must win. The Jets have been poor this year, and are a team Miami need to beat.
This game is one of my favourite games in the NFL calendar. The teams have produced a number of classic games, and on game day the atmosphere is always guaranteed to be electric.
Lets step back in time to almost 40 years ago. Both teams have played against each other since the Dolphins joined the AFL in 1966. However it wasn’t until 1970, when the Dolphins and Jets were placed in the AFC East, which slowly began to create one of the most intense rivalries that, prior to the New England Patriots dominance of the early 2000s, saw both teams regularly contest for the AFC East title.
During the 1960s, Jets quarterback Joe Namath cemented his team’s place as an AFL powerhouse, winning the first eight games between the two teams. Unfortunately for Namath and the Jets, when injuries took their toll on the strong armed quarterback, the Jets failed to post a record above .500 in the 1970s, at a time when the Dolphins quickly took their place among the NFL’s elite.
It wasn’t until the 1980s when the teams truly competed against each other for the first time in the battle for the division title. It was during this decade that some of the most memorable games were played, and will be the primary focus of this article.
One of these was the 1982 AFC Championship game, the only meeting between the two teams in the playoffs. Before the game, torrential rainfall fell for over 72 hours, leaving the field covered in sloppy mud, keeping both teams scoreless in the first half. The game was won and lost on a great defensive battle, which featured 10 turnovers, with eight of them interceptions. Dolphins linebacker A.J. Duhe intercepted three of them, and even returned one for a 35 yard touchdown to help the Dolphins come away with a 14-0 win and send his team on their way to the Super Bowl.
Other memorable games in the 1980s include the November 10, 1985 meeting where Dolphins wide receiver Mark Duper set a single game record of 217 receiving yards to help secure Miami’s 21-17 win.
But perhaps the two most memorable games in history came in the two meetings between the teams in 1986.
On September 21, Dan Marino and Ken O’Brien produced an offensive masterclass. Both quarterbacks set single game records for a combined 884 passing yards and 10 touchdown passes. Dan Marino completed 30 of his 50 passes for 448 yards and 6 touchdowns, while O’Brien threw for 479 yards and four touchdown passes, all of which were completed to Wesley Walker. One of those passes to Walker sent the game into overtime, while the other clinched the 51-45 win. Almost twenty years on, and those records still stand, which is a remarkable feat considering the run game was a huge factor during those days, and the game remains the highest scoring game between the two teams.
It was a tough loss for Miami, but Marino and company seized the opportunity for revenge in the second game of 1986 in front of a national audience - the Monday Night Football game of November 24. Marino completed 29 of 36 passes for 288 yards and four touchdowns, while running back Lorenzo Hampton rushed for 148 yards on 19 attempts for two touchdowns, one of them being a brilliant 50 yard run. The game ended 45-3 in favor of Miami.
A personal milestone for Marino came in on October 23, 1988, when he became of the few quarterbacks in NFL history to throw over 500 yards in a single game, completing 35 passes form 65 attempts for a career high 521 yards. Unfortunately, he also threw five interceptions and, despite a late rally from the Dolphins, the Jets won 44-30.
For me, the 1980s was when this rivalry became great and produced some of the best classics for even neutral fans. This continued into the 90s, when both teams won 10 games each during the decade, and then the 2000s, where the Jets have won 17 games to the Dolphins 11 to date. And, of course, we need no reminding of the last game between the two teams, where the Dolphins slumped to a 20-7 loss.
To date, the Jets lead the series 50-45-1, while the Dolphins have one the only playoff meeting between the teams, beating the Jets in the 1982 AFC Championship. The Jets have won one Super Bowl in 1968, while the Dolphins have won back-to-back Super Bowls in 1972 and 1973.
It’s the Dolphins at the Jets this weekend. Are you ready?
Do you agree that the Dolphins and Jets have one of the most, if not the most, intense rivalries in the NFL? From your personal experience, what was your most memorable game between the two teams? Please share your experiences in the comments box below!
Alex Parish is an Associate Editor at The Phinsider. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @AlexParish89.