Miami Dolphins

Six moments of Dolphins’ pain and suffering in Buffalo

Miami Dolphins head coach Don Shula, left, linebacker Bryan Cox (51) and cornerback Troy Vincent (23) watch the Buffalo Bills defense in action during the fourth quarter of the Bills 37-22 AFC playoff victory Sat., Dec. 30, 1995, at Rich Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y.
Miami Dolphins head coach Don Shula, left, linebacker Bryan Cox (51) and cornerback Troy Vincent (23) watch the Buffalo Bills defense in action during the fourth quarter of the Bills 37-22 AFC playoff victory Sat., Dec. 30, 1995, at Rich Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y. AP

The Dolphins have enjoyed plenty of success in Buffalo – they won every year there through the entire decade of 1970s – but most of that success occurred in the last century.

The Dolphins also have experienced considerable pain and suffering in upstate New York, which they hope to avoid when the teams meet at 1 p.m. Saturday.

The Dolphins need to win two games, or win once and hope Denver loses once, to clinch their first playoff berth since 2008.

A half-dozen Dolphins lowlights in Buffalo over their 51-year rivalry:

1. The Bills ended Don Shula’s Hall of Fame coaching career by cruising to a 24-0 halftime lead and dispatching the Dolphins, 37-22, in a first-round playoff game on Dec. 30, 1995.

The Bills steamrolled the Dolphins for an AFC-record 341 yards rushing, including 158 by Thurman Thomas. Dan Marino threw for 422 yards, but it wasn’t nearly enough in a game featuring an AFC-postseason record 1,038 yards.

Six days later, Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga gently nudged Shula aside. Six days after that, Huizenga hired Jimmy Johnson.

 
Don Shula’s final game as Dolphins coach. MIAMI HERALD FILE

2. The Dolphins defense was seldom more helpless or hopeless than its performance in a 44-34 division-round playoff loss on Jan. 12, 1991.

Playing in snow and icy conditions, Bills quarterback Jim Kelly threw for 339 yards – offsetting 323 yards passing from Marino -- Thomas ran for 117, and the Bills punted only once the entire game.

3. The Dolphins blew a chance to make the playoffs and served up one of their most anemic offensive performances in team history in a 19-0 loss on Dec. 22, 2013.

Ryan Tannehill completed 10 of 27 passes for 82 yards (a 39.6 passer rating).

The Dolphins mustered only 103 yards and six first downs and allowed seven sacks.

The Dolphins lost to the Jets the following week and missed the playoffs, finishing 8-8.

 
Miami Dolphins' Brian Hartline can't reach a pass by Ryan Tannehill as Buffalo Bills' Stephone Gilmore defends in the fourth quarter at Ralph Wilson Stadium, in Buffalo, NY, Dec. 22, 2013. CHARLES TRAINOR JR. / ctranior@miamiherald.com

4. Brian Cox’ antics.

Cox brought the Dolphins plenty of unwanted attention by raising his middle finger on both hands, offering a double-barrel salute to Bills fans, as he walked on the field for warm-ups before Miami’s 22-13 win early in the 1993 season. Cox was fined $10,000 for that incident, which led to a lawsuit by Cox against the NFL. Cox sued the league and won, saying it did a poor job of creating a healthy work environment because security measures were inadequate.

Cox had another incident late in a 23-20 Dolphins loss, on Dec. 17, 1995, a game that was Shula’s final regular-season defeat.

Cox and Bills fullback Carwell Gardner were ejected for fighting and nearly came to blows again in the tunnel between the locker-rooms.

Cox, booed lustily by fans, responded by spitting on the field in the direction of the fans five times. The league hit Cox with a $17,500 fine – the NFL’s largest that season.

 
Miami Dolphins linebacker Bryan Cox watches the from the sidelines during the Buffalo Bills 37-22 AFC playoff victory Saturday, Dec. 30, 1995, at Rich Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y. CHARLES AGEL / AP

5. The first road game in Dolphins history was an embarrassment – a 58-24 loss on Sept. 18, 1966, in Buffalo.

The Bills blitzed the Dolphins for 508 yards, with Jack Kemp throwing for 226. Butch Byrd had a 60-yard interception return for a touchdown and 72-yard punt return for another score.

6. The Dolphins were abysmal offensively in a 21-0 drubbing on Dec. 17, 2006 - the worst loss of Nick Saban’s second and final season as Miami’s coach.

While JP Losman was beating the Dolphins, Joey Harrington was completing 5 for 17 passes for 20 yards, which might have been enough to send Saban back to college football.

Four days later, Saban announced, “I’m not going to be the Alabama coach.” (Spoiler alert: He was fibbing.)

 
Dolphin's quarterback Joey Harrington asks sideline for play in the 3rd quarter. JOE RIMKUS JR. / Miami Herald file
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