For decades it was one of the most lopsided series in sports. No matter how well the Miami Dolphins may have been doing otherwise, they almost always succumbed to the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders. Indeed, the only time Miami has beaten Oakland in the playoffs was in the 1973 AFC Championship Game, at the old Orange Bowl. I remember the very first game I ever watched between the two teams, the classic divisional playoff game at Alameda County Stadium, on December 21st, 1974. Now known as the 'Sea Of Hands' game, the Dolphins suffered an excruciating, era ending loss, by the score of 28-26, as legendary quarterback Kenny Stabler hit running back Clarence Davis for the winning touchdown with 28 seconds left in the game, as he was being dragged to the turf by Miami defensive end Vern Den Herder.
The Dolphins have been involved in some of the most exciting playoff games in NFL history, but have unfortunately lost almost every one of them. However, almost every team that has beaten Miami in the playoffs has gone on to lose the following week, because they had nothing left in the tank after being in such a grueling contest the previous game. As far as I know, no team has ever beaten the Dolphins in the postseason and then gone on to win the Super Bowl. In January 1982, the Dolphins played the San Diego Chargers in a now legendary overtime game, which Miami lost 41-38, but San Diego had to travel to Cincinnati the next week, and play in - 59-degree wind chill temperatures. Hall of Fame quarterback turned commentator Dan Fouts still feels the effects of the frostbite he suffered in that game. Former Chargers who played in the game lament to this day about how the stadium personnel would open the doors at the Bengals' end of the field whenever San Diego was in scoring territory, causing the gusting winds to enter the stadium.
After decades of futility against the Raiders, Miami has won five consecutive games against them, and eight of their last nine overall, the only loss coming during the 1-15 debacle of 2007. The Raiders still lead the all-time series 19-17-1, but with a victory on Sunday night, the Dolphins can pull within a single game of the team in silver and black. Once one of the fiercest rivalries in sports, the Dolphins-Raiders series has lost some of its luster as both teams have fallen on hard times since their glory years of the 1970's and 80's. Here's to hoping that the Dolphins can add to the Raiders' early-season misery, and hand them a loss on Sunday night.