Miami Dolphins History

Miami Dolphins - Team History

Miami Dolphins, professional football team and one of five teams in the Eastern Division of the American Football Conference (AFC) of the National Football League (NFL). The Dolphins play at Pro Player Stadium in Miami, Florida, and wear uniforms of aqua, orange, and white. The team is named for the dolphins that inhabit the coastal waters of Florida.

For most of their history, the Dolphins were coached by Don Shula, the winningest head coach in professional football history. His Dolphins teams posted losing records in only 2 of his 26 seasons with the club. In 1972 the Dolphins became the first and only NFL team to complete a 14-game regular season without a loss. Five future Hall of Fame members played for Miami during the 1970s, including running back Larry Csonka and quarterback Bob Griese. During the 1980s and 1990s quarterback Dan Marino became the most prolific passer in NFL history. He piloted the Dolphins to numerous playoff appearances and two Super Bowls, and he holds numerous NFL career passing records.

Miami joined the American Football League (AFL) when an expansion team franchise was awarded to lawyer Joseph Robbie and actor Danny Thomas in 1965. The Dolphins began play in 1966, and after four consecutive losing seasons, Don Shula replaced George Wilson as head coach. Miami joined the NFL in 1970 when the NFL and AFL completed their merger.

The Dolphins were a successful team during the early 1970s, capturing the AFC championship in 1971 behind quarterback Bob Griese and wide receiver Paul Warfield. The AFC Championship Game, in which the Dolphins defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, was the longest contest in NFL history (82 minutes 40 seconds). In the Super Bowl, however, Miami lost to the Dallas Cowboys 24-3.

In 1972 the Dolphins accomplished an amazing feat, becoming the first NFL team to finish a season undefeated. Miami went on to win two playoff games and then the Super Bowl, defeating the Washington Redskins 14-7. During this season, Griese and veteran quarterback Earl Morrall shared the passing duties, and running backs Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris became the first teammates to rush for more than 1,000 yards each. The offensive line included future Hall of Fame members Jim Langer and Larry Little. The 1972 Dolphins defensive unit, called the No-Name Defense because Miami’s impressive offense received much more publicity, was the league’s best that year. It was led by linebacker Nick Buoniconti, end Bill Stanfill, and safeties Dick Anderson and Jake Scott.

The Dolphins won 12 games during the 1973 season and repeated as Super Bowl champions, routing the Minnesota Vikings 24-7. Miami reached the playoffs the following season but lost in the first round to the Oakland Raiders. After the disappointing defeat, several players, including Csonka, Warfield, and running back Jim Kiick, joined the short-lived World Football League. The Dolphins managed to win ten games in 1975, aided by Griese’s consistency and the fine play of wide receiver Nat Moore.

Miami rebounded from a losing record in 1976 by winning ten or more games in four of the next five seasons. Shula built a solid defense around a new set of stars, including linebacker A. J. Duhe and linemen Bob Baumhower and Doug Betters. In the strike-shortened season of 1982, the Dolphins held five of their nine opponents to 14 or fewer points en route to their fourth Super Bowl appearance. They lost the title game to Washington 27-17.

During the third game of the 1983 season, Shula replaced quarterback David Woodley with rookie Dan Marino, who went on to win the AFC passing championship and rookie of the year award. During the mid-1980s Marino produced the most impressive set of passing statistics in NFL history, setting single-season records for most yards (5,084), touchdown passes (48), and completions (362) during the 1984 season. Seldom sacked by defenders, Marino was protected by an outstanding offensive line as he passed to receivers such as Mark Clayton and Mark Duper. In 1984 the Dolphins won their first 11 games on their way to another Super Bowl appearance. In the title game, however, Miami lost to the San Francisco 49ers 38-16.

Marino continued to quarterback the Dolphins throughout the 1990s, and under his leadership the team reached the playoffs several times. In 1995 Marino broke the career passing records formerly held by Fran Tarkenton for yards (48,841), touchdowns (352), and completions (3,913). Following the 1995 season Shula became an executive in the Dolphins’ front office. Jimmy Johnson, who had won a collegiate national championship at the University of Miami and two Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys, was named as Shula’s replacement. After the 1999 season, Johnson left the team and Marino retired.

1972 VI Lost to Dallas Cowboys, 24-3
1973 VII Defeated Washington Redskins, 14-7
1974 VIII Defeated Minnesota Vikings, 24-7
1983 XVII Lost to Washington Redskins, 27-17
1985 XIX Lost to San Francisco 49ers, 38-16

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