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Miami Dolphins History

Robbie, Griese, Kick, Csonka, Morris, Warfield, Marino, Shula are a few of the names that come to mind when you think of the Miami Dolphins.

As the first NFL team in Florida the Dolphins have established a huge fan base and a they have always had a first class reputation.

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Larry Csonka

Larry Csonka dives for a touchdown in 1972

The Dolphins are in the AFC East and play in Dolphins Stadium in Miami Gardens.

These are the highlights of the Miami Dolphins History.

1965 to 1969

The AFL (American Football League) is starting to take off and decided to expand. Joe Robbie a Miami Lawyer and actor Danny Thomas were awarded and expansion team and paid $7.5 million dollars. Danny Thomas eventually sold his interest to Joe Robbie, who would go on to own the Dolphins for many years. 

The name “Dolphins” came from a contest that received 19,843 entries.

The Dolphins play their first game on September 2, 1966 in front of 26,776 fans. In that first season the Dolphins were 3 and 11 and standout players were Joe Auer, George Wilson (quarterback), and Billy Joe.

In the 1967 draft the Miami Dolphins select Quarterback Bob Griese with the 4th pick. When quarterback John Stofa broke his ankle, Griese would take over and win his first game. But the Dolphins still only had a 4 and 10 record.

In 1968 the Miami Dolphins draft Larry Csonka with the 8th pick and the Dolphins manage a 5-8-1 record. In that same draft the Dolphins selected Jim Kick with the 110 pick. That same year the Dolphins acquired Defensive Tackle Manny Fernandez.

The most important events of the 1969 season were the acquisitions of Linebacker Nick Buoniconti and Guard Larry Little. Both would go on to be Dolphin stars.

1970 to 1980

Don Shula

1970 was the year the Dolphins got their coach - Don Shula. Shula was with the Baltimore Colts and led that team to Super Bowl III. Another big addition of 1970 was Paul Warfield, a premier wide receiver.

In 1971 the Miami Dolphins acquired Linbacker Bob Matheson. Matheson along with Manny Fernandez, Nick Buoniconti, Bill Stanfill, Doug Swift, Tim Foley, Curtis Johnson, Dick Anderson, and Jack Scott make up the famous “No Name Defense”.

1971 was a breakout year for the Miami Dolphins. The team finished with a 10-3-1 record and won the AFC East division.

In the AFC Divisional Playoff the Dolphins played the Kansas City Chiefs. The game went into overtime tied at 24.  In double overtime the Dolphins would win the AFC Championship with a 37 yard field goal by Garo Yepremian. It was the longest game in NFL history. 

The 1971 Conference Championship Game was between The Miami Dolphins and the Baltimore Colts. The Dolphins won the game easily with a score of 21 to 0 and earned a place in their first Super Bowl.

The 1971 Super Bowl was between the Miami Dolphins and the Dallas Cowboys and played at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans. The Cowboys beat the Dolphins with a powerful running game that racked up 252 yards. The final score was 24 to 3.

1972 was the Year that Changed the NFL forever.

The Miami Dolphins had a perfect season - 17 wins 0 loses. The wins include Super Bowl VII. It was the first time in history that an NFL team had a perfect season and still stands as the only perfect season.

The Dolphins actually went into the Super Bowl as a 1 and a half point underdog to the Washington Redskins. But the Dolphins No Name Defense held the Redskins to only 7 points and won the game 14 to 7.

Buoniconti, Fernandez, Matheson

Nick Buoniconti, Manny Fernandez, and Bob Matheson of the Miami Dolphins No Name Defense 1972

1973 was Considered an Even Better Dolphin Team

The 1973 Miami Dolphins finished the season with a record of 12 and 2. In the divisional playoffs the The Dolphins played and Cincinnati Bengals and won 34 to 16. In the AFC Championship the played the Oakland Raiders and won 27 to 10. With that win, the Dolphins were in the Super Bowl for the 3rd year in row.

The 1973 Super Bowl was the Miami Dolphins against the Minnesota Vikings. Larry Csonka took over the game rushing for 145 yards on 33 carries and scoring 2 touch downs. The Miami Dolphins won Super Bowl VIII (1973) 24 to 7.

1974 was a strange year in the NFL

The 1974 Season started with a players strike and at the same time the World Football League. The regular season started on time despite the strike and the Dolphins won the AFC East with a record of 11 and 3. In the AFC championship game the Miami Dolphins would face the Raiders again but this time the Raiders would squeak out a last second with of 28 to 26 with a pass from Kenny Stabler to Clarence Davis.

1975 to 1980

The Miami Dolphins started the 1975 season without their power runner Larry Csonka who left for a big contract in the World Football League. The Dolphins lost their home opening game and did not make the playoffs.

The 1976 season was the first loosing record for the Dolphins with a record of 6 and 8. In 1977 the Miami Dolphins recaptured their winning ways with a 10 and 4 record.

In 1978 Bob Griese (The Miami Dolphins Quarterback) missed the first 7 games of the season with a knee injury. Backup Quarterback Don Strock lead the team to a record of 5 and 2 and Griese came back to finish the season with an overall record of 11 and 5. But the Dolphins lost in the wild card game to the Houston Oilers.

The 1979 Miami Dolphins included Larry Csonka who resigned with the team. The Dolphins took a 10 and 6 record in the playoffs but lost in the Divisional Playoffs to the Pittsburgh Steelers 34 to 14.

1980 was an average year with the Dolphins managing only an 8 and 8 record.

1981 to 1990

1981 was the year Bob Griese retired. The Dolphins finished the season with an 11-4-1 record but lost in the divisional playoffs to the San Diego Chargers.

The 1982 season started with another player strike. The NFL regular season was shortened to 9 games. The Miami Dolphins finished the season with a 7 and 2 record and beat the New England Patriots in the first round of the playoffs 28 to 3.

In the 1982 AFC Championship the Dolphins beat the Jets 14 to 0 and were back in the Super Bowl against the Washington Redskins. But the Redskins, behind the power running of John Riggins would beat the Dolphins 27 to 17.

Bob Griese and Larry Little

Bob Griese drops back with Larry Little blocking

1983 was the year the Miami Dolphins drafted quarterback Dan Marino.. In his first season, Marino lead the Dolphins to a 14 and 2 record, and set records for touch downs and passing yards.  But the Dolphins lost to the Seahawks in the playoffs.

The 1984 Dolphins season started with an impressive 11 wins in a row. The Dolphins ended the season with a 14 and 2 record and Dan Marino became the first Quarterback in the NFL to pass for more than 5,000 yards and 40 touchdowns.

The Dolphins beat the Seahawks in the first round of the playoffs and beat the Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship game to advance to the Super Bowl.

Superbowl XIX (1984) was between the Miami Dolphins and the San Francisco 49ers.  Unfortunately the Dolphins had to play against Joe Montana and the 49ers beat the Dolphins 38 to 16.

1985 was another big year for Dan Marino and the Dolphins won the AFC east with a 12 and 4 record. But the New England Patriots beat the Dolphins in the AFC championship game 31 to 14.

1986 was a strange year for the Miami Dolphins. Dan Marino continued to set records but the teams weak defense resulted in an 8 and 8 record. In one game against the New York Jets, Marino passed for 6 touchdowns and 448 yards but the Dolphins lost 51 to 45.

The 1987 season started with another player strike and the first game of the season was played with replacement players. The team would finish the season with an 8 and 7 record and miss the playoffs.

1988 was only the second losing season for the Miami Dolphins under Don Shula. The Dolphins finished with a 6 and 10 record.

1989 was another average year for the Dolphins. They finished with an 8 and 8 record. The team had a big loss with the death of Miami Dolphins founder and owner Joe Robbie at age 73.

In 1990 the Miami Dolphins rebounded with a 12 and 4 record and earn a wild card spot in the playoffs. The Dolphins beat the Kansas City Chiefs 17 to 16 and earned a spot in the divisional championship against the Buffalo Bills. The Dolphins lost to the Bills 44 to 34.

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