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Dolphins at Patriots: History of the matchup

NFL: Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots will face off for the 99th game all-time between the two AFC East rivals. The Dolphins-Patriots rivalry actually trails the Dolphins-Bills and Dolphins-Jets by two games each year, the Dolphins having faced both of those teams 100 times heading into this year, despite all four teams having been division rivals in the AFC East since Miami entered the league in 1966.

The 1966 schedule for the Dolphins was a little odd. Due to the AFL only having nine teams, the league scheduled every team to face each other at least once, then six teams would have a second meeting. For the Dolphins, those six teams with the home-and-home series were the Jets, Bills, Houston Oilers (then in the AFL East), and three teams from the AFL West, the Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos, and Oakland Raiders. The then Boston Patriots had an identical schedule to Miami, other than the team facing the Raiders just once and the San Diego Chargers twice. Somehow, the AFL East rivalry between the Patriots and Dolphins only received one scheduled meeting in that 1966 season.

The Dolphins and Patriots also only faced off once during the strike-shortened 1982 season. Miami did face the Jets and Bills (and then AFC East member Indianapolis Colts) twice that season, but New England was only scheduled for Week 6, and actually was one of just two losses the Dolphins suffered that season before dropping the Super Bowl to the Washington Redskins. That game is the infamous Snowplow Game.

Because of those two odd scheduling seasons, the Dolphins and Patriots now head into their 99th regular season meeting all time, with the Dolphins leading 52-46. The Patriots hold a 2-1 advantage in the Playoffs.

Last Meeting:

January 3, 2016

Patriots at Dolphins

Week 17

NFL: New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins Andrew Innerarity-USA TODAY Sports

New England went into Miami last January with a chance to lock up home-field advantage throughout the Playoffs, claiming the number one seed in the AFC with a potential 13-3 record. The Dolphins, meanwhile, were sitting at 5-10 on the year and 0-5 in the division. Everything appeared setup for a blowout to end Miami’s suffering and to keep the Patriots rolling toward another Super Bowl championship.

Except, that is not how the script played out on the field.

Instead, that Sunday saw Miami and New England trade punts to start the game, the the Dolphins go 54 yards on 10 plays, including a Lamar Miller run for 29 yards, to set up Andrew Franks on a 38-yard field goal. After another punt followed six straight running plays for the Patriots, Miami again moved the ball against New England, highlighted by Ryan Tannehill passes to Greg Jennings for 23 yards and DeVante Parker for 14 yards. Just after the change of quarters, however, Franks would miss a 46-yard field goal attempt, leaving the score 3-0 in favor of Miami.

The Patriots again stuck almost purely to the ground game on their next possession, running it on nine of eleven snaps. One pass from Tom Brady was completed to running back Steven Jackson for 20 yards, while the other was incomplete. The Patriots managed to get all the way to the Miami 16-yard line before stalling and having to settle for a 34-yard field goal to tied the game at 3.

After a three-and-out from Miami, the Patriots picked up their offensive rhythm again and, on a drive that included negative six-yards passing from Brady, moved the ball from their own 35-yard line to the Miami 28, only to again stall. This time, however, Stephen Gostkowski would miss the field goal, keeping the score 3-3.

Miami got the ball back with 1:56 on the clock, but would only need 1:16, as Tannehill found running back Damien Williams and wide receivers Jarvis Landry, Jennings, and Parker to move all the way to the New England 15-yard line. With 40 seconds remaining in the half, Tannehill capped the drive with a 15-yard pass to Parker for the touchdown and a 10-3 halftime lead.

New England answered back on their first possession of the second-half, however, going 80 yards on just four plays in 2:28 seconds. The drive featured a short pass from Brady to James White, who broke it for a 68 yard gain, taking the ball to the Miami six-yard line. After a penalty moved the Patriots to the Dolphins’ two-yard line, Jackson ran it in for the tying touchdown. That would be the last time New England would score, however.

Punts by both teams, and a Miami turnover on downs, finished the third quarter with the game still tied 10-10. After another trade of punts to start the final period, Miami put together a six-play drive, covering 82 yards, including passes of 11 yards to Dion Sims, 18 yards to Landry, and 46 yards to Parker, capping it with a two-yard pass from Tannehill to Jordan Cameron and a 17-10 lead.

Another New England punt gave Miami the ball back with 4:41 on the clock. The team took to running the ball to keep the clock moving, with Miller, Tannehill, and Ajayi all getting in on the actions, along with a 22-yard pass from Tannehill to Sims. At the two-minute warning, Franks connected on a 19-yard field goal to extend Miami’s lead to 10. The Patriots then replaced Brady with Jimmy Garoppolo who went 1-4 to turn the ball over the Miami on downs. The Dolphins then knelt twice to kill the clock and come away with the 20-10 win.

The Patriots, with the loss and a Denver Broncos win, were knocked to the second seed position for the AFC Playoffs. Ultimately, they had to go to Denver for the AFC Championship game, rather than having the Broncos go to Foxboro, a fact that in some way may have allowed Denver to win the AFC Championship, and the Super Bowl.

Final: 20-10 Miami.

Last Game at Site:

October 29, 2015

Dolphins at Patriots

Week 8

NFL: Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

While the last game between the two teams had Miami coming out on top, the earlier meeting between the two in the 2015 season was just about all New England. The Patriots would take the opening kickoff 80 yards on eight plays, with LeGarrette Blount running for 22 of those yards and Brady throwing for 28 yards before a 47-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Rob Gronkowski. Miami trailed 7-0 less than five minutes into the contest.

Miami looked like they might be able to respond on their first drive, running eight plays themselves, but only gaining 22 yards thanks to two penalties and a sack. Miami punted on 4th-and-14, pinning the Patriots back at their own 15 yard line.

New England, however, marched right out of the hole the Dolphins were hoping the Patriots were in, starting with a 19-yard pass from Brady to Dion Lewis on first down, then an 18-yard pass to Lewis on the next play. The drive would stall, however, and the Patriots would punt, this time pinning Miami back in their own territory.

After an incomplete pass and a Landry reception for no gain, the Dolphins gave up a safety on 3rd down, increasing New England’s lead to 9-0.

The defenses on both teams then stepped up, leading to five straight punts, three by New England and two by Miami. The Dolphins ended the punt fest, but not in a favorable way, when Tannehill threw an interception on first down from the team’s own 26-yard line. The Patriots would only pick up nine yards on the drive and have to settle for a field goal.

After another Miami punt, the Patriots got the ball back with 1:41 on the clock in the first half and Brady was not going to waste the opportunity. After a three-yard loss on first down, he found Julian Edelman for 14 yards, Lewis for 11 yards, and Brandon LaFell for 18 yards. With a penalty each way on the drive, the Patriots would appear to cap the half with a 16-yard Brady to Lewis touchdown for a 19-0 lead at the half.

The Dolphins made an attempt to get into field goal range just before the break, but Andrew Franks could not convert on a 63-yard attempt.

The team would finally put points on the board with the first possession of the second half, but it would be their only points of the contest. The 80-yard, 7-play drive featured Tannehill finding Landry for 15 yards, Miller for 8 yards, Kenny Stills for 23 yards, and Cameron for 29 yards, along with a four-yard run from Miller. The drive ended with Miller scoring from one-yard out.

The Patriots, however, would again move down the field on Miami seemingly at will, before Gostkowski connected on a 36-yard field goal and a 22-7 lead for New England.

Punts finished out the third quarter, and Tannehill started the fourth-period with an interception on the second play. New England started their drive from the Miami 15-yard line, taking three plays before an Edelman 10-yard touchdown reception.

Trailing 29-7, Miami would go three-and-out on their next possession including first- and second-down sacks of Tannehill losing 18 yards. The Patriots would overcome a seven-yard loss on an Olivier Vernon sack during the drive, thanks to a 14-yard run from Blount, a 25-yard reception from LaFell, a 20-yard reception from Edelman, and a 16-yard touchdown reception from Edelman.

The Dolphins would turn the ball over on downs on their next possession, followed by a New England punt, and, mercifully, the time expiring on the Dolphins’ following possession.

The win kept the Patriots undefeated through the first half of the season, sitting with a 7-0 record, while Miami fell to 3-4, and back to Earth after back-to-back blowout wins against the Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans.

Final: 36-7 Patriots.

Classic game:

September 4, 1994

Patriots at Dolphins

Week 1

This game is remembered for the shootout between Dan Marino, who was returning for the first game of the season after tearing his Achilles tendon the year before, and Drew Bledsoe. In the background, this game also feature the first games for both clubs under new owners. Miami had just finished the transfer of the ownership from the estate of Joe Robbie to H. Wayne Huizenga, and the Patriots were now owned by Robert Kraft.

The on-field performances were incredible, with nearly 900 yards of passing in the game, and a quarterback throwing for four touchdowns and losing. The game started off slowly, with a New England punt and a Miami fumble, but started picking up steam after that. The Patriots struck first with a touchdown from Kevin Turner on a one-yard run to end their second possession.

Miami would nearly respond on their second possession, with Marino driving the team all the way to the Patriots’ one-yard line, then, after a penalty backed them up to the six, Marino was picked off by Dwayne Sabb.

Nothing would come of the interception, however, as New England would punt six plays later, only to see Miami go three-and-out.

A 62-yard drive by the Patriots, which included a 28-yard pass from Bledsoe to Michael Timpson on the first play, would end with the first interception of the contest for Bledsoe. Troy Vincent came away with the pick, returning it 12 yards.

After three Terry Kirby runs picked up 22 yards (plus a five yard penalty), Marino officially had the rust from the missed 1993 season off of him, connecting with Mark Ingram on a 64-yard touchdown.

Bledsoe got the ball back and immediately looked to put points on the board before halftime. Highlighted by a 26-yard pass to Ben Coates and a 19-yard pass to Kevin Turner, the Patriots would move 68 yards in nine plays, with Bledsoe finding Coactes for the 2-yard touchdown.

Marino was not done with the first half scoring, though, throwing two 21-yard passes to set up Pete Stoyanovich on a 42-yard field goal as the half ended. New England led 14-10 at half time, but the game was just getting started.

After a Miami three-and-out to open the second half, Bledsoe threw a 62-yard pass to Coates for the score on the second play of the possession. Suddenly, the game looked like it might be getting out of hand, with the Patriots leading 21-10.

A traded pair of three-and-outs, was followed by a Marino 40-yard pass to Irving Fryar, an Irving Spikes five-yard run, and a 26-yard touchdown pass from Marino to Keith Jackson. A successful two-point conversion pulled Miami to within a field goal at 21-18.

The Patriots would then go three-and-out again, but Marino would fumble on the first play after the punt, and Bledsoe would cap the 24-yard possession with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Timpson. The Patriots were again pulling away, now 28-18.

Marino got the ball back on his own 22-yard line, connecting on a two-yard pass to Keith Byars followed by a 27-yard pass interference on the next play. After a 5-yard penalty on Miami, Marino threw two incompletions before finding Fryar for the 54-yard touchdown.

The Patriots would go six-and-out on their next possession, with the Dolphins getting the ball back at their own 46 yard line after a 29-yard punt and a fair-catch interference penalty. Kirby would pick up 4 yards on first down, but then Marino would again decide it is jump simpler to score on the long passes. Once again, Marino would connect with Fryar, this time on a 50-yard touchdown. Suddenly, Miami was leading 32-28 just as the fourth quarter opened.

Bledsoe was not done, however, as he would thrown for another 40 yards on the team’s next possession, going 67 yards on nine plays. Included in those 40 yards was a 23-yard touchdown to Ray Crittenden, giving New England a 35-32 lead.

After punts by both teams, Miami would get the ball back at their own 20 yard line, only to see Marino sacked back at the 11-yard line. The team got rid of any pretense of running the ball at this point, and put it all on Marino’s right arm. He picked up seven-yards on second down, finding Byars. Then picked up 21 yards on a pass to Kirby. After a time out, Marino found Jackson for three yards, then was incomplete looking again for Jackson. On 3rd-and-7 from the Miami 42, Marino threw complete to Scott Miller for 18 yards. Another sack pushed the Dolphins back eight yards, only to have Marino throw for 13 more yards on second-down, this time to Kirby. On 3rd-and-5 from the New England 35-yard line, Marino and Ingram would fail to connect, bringing up a fourth down.

Marino, facing a 4th-and-5 did the smart thing on the day. He simply decided it was touchdown time and found Fryar for the 35-yard score and a 39-35 lead.

The Patriots appeared to be moving the ball on their next possession, with Bledose throwing for 50 yards before a Coates fumble was recovered by Miami. The Dolphins would punt again, then the defense would force a turnover on downs from the Patriots and a kneel from Marino would end the game.

Marino finished the shootout 23-for-42 for 473 yards with five touchdowns and an interception. Fryar caught five passes for 211 yards with three touchdowns.

Bledsoe was 32-for-51 for 421 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions.

The losing quarterback in this game had a 98.6 passer rating. Marino recorded a 124.3 in his first game after the Achilles tear.

Final: 39-35 Dolphins.