DOLPHINS FOOTBALL HISTORY
No pro football club in history ever advanced more
quickly from the first-year dregs every expansion
team faces to the ultimate achievement in its sport
than the Miami Dolphins did in the six-year period
between 1967 and 1972. In 1967, they began their pro
football life as the ninth member of the American
Football League. Six years later, Miami became the
only National Football League team ever to record
a perfect season.
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
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
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
Club Records >>
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