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INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Dolphins In Season Finales

Posted Dec 29, 2015

This will be the 13th time the Dolphins will face the Patriots to close out the season, giving New England the distinction of being the most popular opponent in finales.

The Dolphins will close their regular season Sunday against the New England Patriots looking to improve on their 25-24 record in season finales.

This will be the 13th time the Dolphins will face the Patriots to close out the season, giving New England the distinction of being the most popular opponent in finales. New England and the New York Jets were tied at 12 before this season.

The Dolphins are 5-7 in season finales against New England, 2-3 at home and 3-4 on the road. The teams’ last five meetings in season finales were played at Gillette Stadium, starting in 2000.

The last time the teams meet in Miami for a season finale was in 1997 when the Patriots won 14-12 in a Monday night game.

That was one of five Monday night games the Dolphins have played in a season finale. Three of the other four also were against New England, with the Dolphins winning 23-3 in 1978 and losing 34-27 in 1986 and 24-10 in 1986.

The other Monday night season finale was the 28-21 victory that closed out the memorable 1984 season, with Dan Marino setting the NFL record by finishing with 5,084 passing yards on the season and Mark Clayton catching three touchdown passes to finish with a league-record 18.

Marino’s 340 passing yards in that 1984 game against Dallas stands as the highest total for a Dolphins quarterback in a season finale. It’s one of five 300-yard performances on the final day of the season for the Dolphins, along with Marino’s 339 yards against Kansas City in 1989; Marino’s 320 yards against Atlanta in 1998; Jay Fiedler’s 328 yards against the New York Jets in 2003; and John Stofa’s 307 yards against Houston in the first season finale in team history in 1966.

Clayton’s three touchdowns in that 1984 game was topped by Paul Warfield in 1973 when he had four TD receptions in the season finale against the Detroit Lions.

Warfield and Clayton are among the nine different Dolphins receivers who had 100 receiving yards in a season finale. Clayton (1984, 1989), Nat Moore (1977, 1979), Oronde Gadsden (1998, 1999) and Chris Chambers (2003, 2004) each did it twice; Warfield (1973), Scott Schwedes (1988), Freddie Solomon (1976), Melvin Baker (1974) and Jack Clancy (1967) all did it once.

The record for most receiving yards for a Dolphins receiver in a finale is shared Gadsden and Chambers with 153.

In the running game, the franchise record for a finale is 185 yards and was set by Ricky Williams against the New England Patriots in 2002. It was one of seven 100-yard rushing performances by a Dolphins back in a finale, along with those of Sammie Smith in 1990, Karim Abdul-Jabbar in 1996, Lamar Smith in 2001, another one by Ricky Williams in 2005, Ronnie Brown in 2006 and Lamar Miller last year.

Miller gained 178 yards last season against the New York Jets, a performance highlighted by his 97-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. That run is the longest in franchise history for any game.

The longest pass play by the Dolphins in a regular season finale was a 76-yard touchdown hook-up from quarterback Sage Rosenfels to Chris Chambers against the Baltimore Ravens on Jan. 2, 2005.

On defense, the record for most sacks in a finale belongs to Bob Baumhower, who had three against the New York Jets in 1983 (remember that sacks didn’t become an official stat until 1982). In that same game, safety Mike Kozlowski returned two interceptions for touchdowns to help the Dolphins win 34-14.

That was one of five times a Dolphins player finished with two interceptions in a season finale. Kozlowski also did it in 1981 against Buffalo; Jarvis Williams did it in 1990 against Indianapolis; Andre’ Goodman did it in 2008 against the New York Jets in a 24-17 division-clinching victory; and defensive tackle Randy Starks did it against the Jets in the 2011 finale.

Breaking down the Dolphins’ 25-24 record in finales:

The Dolphins are 18-15 at home; 7-9 on the road.

The Dolphins are 17-17 on Sunday; 5-4 on Saturday; 1-0 on Friday; 2-3 on Monday.

The Dolphins have perfect records in finales against Buffalo (5-0), the Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts (3-0), Detroit (2-0), Dallas (1-0), Denver (1-0), Green Bay (1-0) and the St. Louis Rams (1-0).

The Dolphins have played four overtime finales, and have a 1-3 record in those games.

The Dolphins’ most lopsided victory in a season finale came in 1970 when they beat the Buffalo Bills 45-7. The Dolphins have two shutouts in their final game, beating Baltimore 16-0 to conclude the perfect regular season of 1972 and beating Buffalo 28-0 in 1985.

The Dolphins’ year-by-year season finales (home games in ALL CAPS):

2014 – N.Y. JETS (L, 24-37)
2013 – N.Y. JETS (L, 7-20)
2012 – at New England (L, 0-28)
2011 – N.Y. JETS (W, 19-17)
2010 – at New England (L, 7-38)
2009 – PITTSBURGH (L, 24-30)
2008 – at N.Y. Jets (W, 24-17)
2007 – CINCINNATI (L, 25-38)
2006 – at Indianapolis (L, 22-27)
2005 – at New England (W, 28-26)
2004 – at Baltimore (L, 23-30)
2003 – N.Y. JETS (W, 23-21)
2002 – at New England (L, 24-27 (OT))
2001 – BUFFALO (W, 34-7)
2000 – at New England (W, 27-24)
1999 – at Washington (L, 10-21)
1998 – at Atlanta (L, 16-38)
1997 – NEW ENGLAND (L, 12-14)
1996 – at N.Y. Jets (W, 31-28)
1995 – at St. Louis (W, 41-22)
1994 – DETROIT (W, 27-20)
1993 – at New England (L, 27-33 (OT))
1992 – at New England (W, 16-13 (OT))
1991 – N.Y. JETS (L, 20-23 (OT))
1990 – INDIANAPOLIS (W, 23-17)
1989 – KANSAS CITY (L, 24-27)
1988 – at Pittsburgh (L, 24-40)
1987 – NEW ENGLAND (L, 10-24)
1986 – NEW ENGLAND (L, 27-34)
1985 – BUFFALO (W, 28-0)
1984 – DALLAS (W, 28-21)
1983 – N.Y. JETS (W, 34-14)
1982 – at Baltimore (W, 34-7)
1981 – BUFFALO (W, 16-6)
1980 – N.Y. JETS (L, 17-24)
1979 – N.Y. JETS (L, 24-27)
1978 – NEW ENGLAND (W, 23-3)
1977 – BUFFALO (W, 31-14)
1976 – MINNESOTA (W, 29-7)
1975 – DENVER (W, 14-13)
1974 – NEW ENGLAND (W, 34-27)
1973 – DETROIT (W, 34-7)
1972 – BALTIMORE (W, 16-0)
1971 – GREEN BAY (W, 27-6)
1970 – BUFFALO (W, 45-7)
1969 – N.Y. JETS (L, 9-27)
1968 – N.Y. JETS (L, 7-31)
1967 – HOUSTON (L, 10-41)
1966 – HOUSTON (W, 29-28)
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