New England Patriots And Miami Dolphins Rival History: Reflecting On The Miami Miracle + Preview Of Upcoming Divisional Showdown

September 9, 2022
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We’re going to be going over some of the recent games between the New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins while concurrently exploring related statistics. We’ll also lightly explore the upcoming showdown between these rivals that’s set to take place this Sunday.

The NFL season is finally here and on Sunday at 1:00 PM EST, the New England Patriots will face off against the Miami Dolphins for the 114th time in NFL history. Currently, the Dolphins lead the rivalry series with a record of 59-54 against the Pats.

Traditionally the rivalry has gone back and forth with the Dan Marino-era Dolphins typically besting the Patriots, and the Brady-Era Patriots usually dominating the Dolphins. Recently however it’s been all Dolphins as the Patriots have somehow found themselves on the losing side of five out of their last seven games against the Dolphins.

Historically the Patriots have had a tough time winning as the visiting team against the Dolphins in Miami (the Patriots went 2-18 in their first 20 games played in Miami from 1966-1985). Recently, post-Brady-Belicheck Dynasty Era, the Patriots have once again found themselves struggling on the road against the Dolphins. In the last nine games between the two teams that were played in Miami, the Patriots have compiled a lowly 2-7 record.

The Most Recent New England Patriots/Miami Dolphins Game (01/09/2022)

During week 18 of the 2021 season, the Patriots and Dolphins came together for the 113th time in what could be considered a classic match-up between young star quarterbacks and a preview of future epic showdowns between two of the league’s young talented teams. The Patriots and the Dolphins have arguably never been closer in terms of talent than they find themselves during recent seasons and conceivably also in seasons to come.

The game starts in a regular enough fashion, with the Dolphins capping off an opening drive with a short passing touchdown. But takes a sharp New England downturn during the Patriot’s ensuing opening drive when Mac Jones immediately throws an interception that star-cornerback Xavien Howard takes to the house, bringing the Dolphin’s lead to 14-0 early on in the first quarter.

Shortly after, Miami kicker Jason Sanders would kick a 30-yard field goal to bring the score to 17-0 before the Patriots would end up answering with a score of their own. From there the Patriots struggled to recover and the final score makes the game seem closer than it probably was in retrospect. The Dolphins defeated the Patriots 33-24.

The Miracle In Miami (12/09/2018)

I know, I know, I’m sorry. Unfortunately for us New England Patriots fans, occasionally the topic of this infamous game and play will come up in casual conversation, and as a result, we may suffer sudden and intense bouts of PTSD related to this unfortunate (yet essentially meaningless) piece of NFL history.

It was a dark day and subsequent week in New England, but this was also the season that the Brady-Belicheck era Patriots dynasty would win their sixth and most recent super bowl, officially cementing the dynasty as one of the greatest sports legacies of all time. (So yeah essentially, a meaningless loss) It never seemed to bother Brady or Belichick, with Bill being quoted afterward saying:

“Look, it’s the National Football League. Nobody died. Got a big game against Pittsburgh this week.”

– Bill Belichick, Post-Game Interview: 12/09/2018

Also, Tom Brady reportedly said he didn’t consider the game a loss in a statement he made after the Patriot’s Super Bowl victory later on that season.

Regardless of the thoughts and public statements of our beloved icons and New England heroes, this game will always live in infamy when it comes to the cultured rivalry between the Patriots and the Miami Dolphins.

The game took place on December 9th, 2018 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. It was 84 °F at the time which I find completely perplexing considering its literally 100 °F colder here in New England at that time of the year. The sold-out crowd of 66,087 was treated to an exceptionally good game between the two teams which featured an unbelievable eight lead changes.

Unfortunately for the Patriots, veteran and typically clutch kicker Stephen Gostkowski would miss both an extra point and a field goal in the game. The missed field goal turned out to be crucial as the Patriots would lose the game 33-34 after the game’s final play which was instantly dubbed “The Miracle in Miami”.

Let’s start by acknowledging that there are seldom events in sporting history that are actually infamous enough for people to bestow a special nickname upon. It’s almost like the sports equivalent of a day being declared a federal holiday. It has to be really, really special, memorable, or perhaps unlikely. Moments such as “The Miracle On Ice” or “The Butt Fumble”. There are so few moments such as these that are widely accepted and referred to by a singular name that it’s hard to think of more than five off the top of your head.

The Miracle in Miami certainly is in a distinct league of the most unlikely and memorable things to happen in recent sports history. It’s probably mostly for the fact that Dolphins fans hadn’t had much to cheer about for a while at that point and had only recently started to swing the rivalry back towards the Dolphin’s favor. As I’ve mentioned before, this game and/or play technically didn’t mean shit. As much as Miami fans are never going to let it die, all we really need to ask in return is “Who won the super bowl that year?”.

Alas, let’s finally get onto the play itself. The Miracle in Miami is the most recent example and one of only two occasions in NFL history of an NFL team converting a multi-lateral passing play into a game-winning touchdown. It was devastating for Patriots fans, but for Miami fans, it was obviously miraculous. …

If you haven’t seen the play I suggest you go over to youtube for two minutes and watch it for yourself. I’ve done what I could so far, but words truly can’t describe such an unlikely moment in sports and NFL history. It’s simply something you don’t see in NFL football. It’s likely only a few teams will ever accomplish something like this again, and as much as I hate to admit it, it was a special moment.

Tom Brady-Led Patriots Teams Against The Dolphins

Now that we’ve gone over some of the recent hardships we’ve endured as New England fans against our formidable divisional rival the Miami Dolphins, it’s time to remember a simpler time. A better time. The time in question consists of the entirety of Tom Brady-era Patriots games against the Dolphins. Specifically, the games that were played at Gillette Stadium.

In 17 New England home games against visiting Miami Dolphin teams, Tom, Bill, and the rest of the Patriots managed to record 15 wins compared to just two losses. 15-2. Insane. The stats aren’t particularly gaudy, his average QBR in those 17 games (91.7), isn’t even as high as his current QBR for his entire career which currently sits at 96.62 shortly before the start of the 2022 regular season. But the win-loss record remains undeniably impressive.

15-2 is easily one of the most eye-gouging numbers when it comes to win/loss records over the span of the Patriots/Dolphins rivalry. In contrast, Dan Marino was only 9-5 in home games against the Patriots during his career. Still a decent record, from another all-time great QB, but somehow not even close to the numbers that Brady managed to put up.

I could go over each and every one of those games with the same attention to detail as I gave the Miracle in Miami above, but I fear I would greatly exceed my word limit and for the sake of your time I’m going to move on. However, having watched all of these games growing up, where Tom Brady and the Patriots were consistently dominant, was an absolute privilege as a sports fan and I can’t possibly overstate how good it felt when we were constantly winning everything. Never took it for granted, and never will.

Here’s to six more rings… and maybe like one for the Dolphins at some point, in the spirit of sportsmanship in rivalry… or something like that.

Upcoming Game Between New England And Miami (9/11/2022 @ 1 PM EST)

The Patriots rolled into Miami on Tuesday this week, in what seems to be a new strategy in terms of getting Patriots players more acclimated to the Miami weather. Typically, under Bill Belichick, the Patriots have flown into Miami on Saturday instead of Tuesday. This new travel schedule allows the Patriots five full days of practice in Miami to get acclimated before the game on Sunday. When asked about the strategy, Bill is quoted as saying:

“”I think there are a combination of factors, but in the end it all looks like it’s set up fairly well here…” “…So, make the travel on Tuesday instead of on Saturday. We’ll already be down there. We’ll be able to just focus on the Dolphins.”

Bill Belichick

New England fans will be paying close attention along with Bill to see if this change in tradition will effect the outcome of the game in any way. It’s unusual to see Belichick actively changing so many things this season. He’s either had some flashes of inspiration this offseason/postseason or he is losing his marbles. Only time knows for sure.

History has proven that both of these teams perform significantly better against the other one while playing at their home stadium and this Sunday, it’s likely recent trends will continue. The optimist, the fan, and the gambler in me would all say that the Patriots are primed to start pushing this rivalry back into our favor, but the realist and the oddsmaker in me would probably have to go with the cautious and logical pick of the Miami Dolphins in this game.

To be clear, I fully expect the Patriots to win this game, but I can understand why the Dolphins are favorites by 3 points for the first time in 16 match-ups (dating back to December of 2013). They have real potential this season, with a young high-ceiling QB and one of the best playmakers in the league in Tyreek Hill. The Dolphins are legitimately a fairly scary threat to win any game they play this year. However, I don’t see the QB play of Tua Tagavoiola being consistent enough for the team to have a truly breakthrough year like most people seem to be expecting.

Along with possible struggles for Tua, I seriously think Mike McDaniel is going to be way over his head during his first NFL game as a head coach. Belichick isn’t going to let a first-timer show him up, and the players who play under his leadership are going to do everything possible to avoid letting him down early on in the season and subsequently risk being cut.

Regardless of the outcome, fans of both teams including myself are practically ecstatic for the first game of the NFL regular season to finally arrive. In the meantime, make sure you stock up on snacks and drinks, dig out your foam fingers, and yell “Go Pats!” at anyone you see with even the slightest trace of Patriots gear. … Go Pats!


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