INSIDE THE NUMBERS: The Dolphins And Monday Night Football

Posted Sep 29, 2013

The Dolphins have been a fixture on “Monday Night Football” since it started in 1970.

The Dolphins are going back to a familiar spot in Week 4 — “Monday Night Football.”

Since the NFL started MNF in 1970, no team has appeared in the game more often than the Dolphins. The game against the New Orleans Saints will be the Dolphins’ 79th on “Monday Night Football” and they’ll add an 80th on Nov. 11 when they travel to Tampa Bay to face the Buccaneers. The Dallas Cowboys are second to the Dolphins with 74 appearances, and they’ll be making their 75th later this season when they travel to Chicago.

The Dolphins have been a fixture on “Monday Night Football” since it started in 1970, with last season marking only the fourth time they weren’t part of that schedule.

It should be noted that two Dolphins games were played on Monday night after originally being scheduled for a Sunday. The first came in 1997 when Sun Life Stadium became unavailable for the Dolphins’ game against the Chicago Bears because the Florida Marlins were playing — and winning — Game 7 of the World Series against the Cleveland Indians. The second came in 2003 when the Dolphins-Chargers matchup was postponed a day and moved from San Diego to Tempe, Ariz., because of wildfires ravaging Southern California.

The game against Chicago was one of three overtime games the Dolphins have played on Monday Night Football. The other two were memorable — for different reasons.

The first came on Dec. 8, 1980, and any devoted fan of music and/or The Beatles will tell you that was the night John Lennon was assassinated. Doing the telecast on ABC, Howard Cosell delivered the tragic news during the game, which the Dolphins eventually would win, 16-13.

The other, of course, came on Oct. 23, 2000 in a game that later was voted by fans as the best ever on Monday Night Football. It was the “Monday Night Miracle,” as the Dolphins saw the New York Jets erase a 30-7 deficit early in the fourth quarter to stun them, 40-37.

That was the highest-scoring game the Dolphins have ever played on MNF; the lowest-scoring affair was a 3-0 loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2007 in the rain and mud at Heinz Field.

While the Dolphins haven’t had as much success on MNF recently, they still maintain a 40-38 record thanks in large part to them winning in their first seven appearances:

1970, at Atlanta, 20-7
1971, vs. Chicago, 34-3
1972, vs. St. Louis, 31-10
1973, at Cleveland, 17-9
1973, vs. Pittsburgh, 30-26
1974, vs. N.Y. Jets, 21-17
1974, vs. Cincinnati, 24-3

The Dolphins finally lost for the first time on Monday Night Football in their season opener in 1975 when Oakland left the Orange Bowl with a 31-21 victory.

The 40 Monday night victories are tied for third with the Pittsburgh, behind the 43 amassed by both the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers.

The Dolphins currently are on a three-game losing streak in Monday night games, but perhaps it’s a good omen that they’ve never lost more than three in a row on MNF.

The last Dolphins victory on Monday night was the thrilling 31-27 decision against the New York Jets in the 2009 when Ronnie Brown scored the game-winning touchdown with six seconds left in the fourth quarter.

That victory is part of the Dolphins’ 15-22 record in Monday night games decided by seven points or less. One of those losses came in the Dolphins’ only previous Monday night appearance in a dome, a 35-30 thriller against Earl Campbell and the Houston Oilers in 1978.

On the flip side, the Dolphins are 9-5 in games decided by 20 points or more, their latest victory in that department being a 41-6 rout of the Colts in 2001.

The Dolphins’ nine lopsided victories (20 points or more) are as follows:

2001, vs. Indianapolis, 41-6
1991, vs. Cincinnati, 37-13
1986, vs. N.Y. Jets, 45-3
1983, vs. Cincinnati, 38-14
1978, vs. New England, 23-3
1978, vs. Cincinnati, 21-0
1974, vs. Cincinnati, 24-3
1972, vs. St. Louis, 31-10
1971, vs. Chicago, 34-3

Including the victory at Tempe in 2003, the Dolphins are 7-17 in Monday night road games, and 33-21 at home.

When it comes to individual numbers, the Dolphins hold a few “Monday Night Football” records, both single-game and career marks.

In terms of career records, Dan Marino holds the marks for career passing yards with 9,654, almost 600 more than second-place Brett Favre. Marino’s record could last a long time — if it’s ever broken at all — considering no active quarterback has more than 5,148 yards. Marino also has the record for career TD passes with 74, five more than Favre and 32 more than third-place Steve Young.

As far as single-game performances, safety Dick Anderson holds the record for most interceptions with his four in that 1973 victory against Pittsburgh. That’s also tied for the NFL record for any regular season game. Among those tied for second with three interceptions in a Monday night game is former Dolphins safety Charlie Babb, who did in the 1975 opening-night loss against Oakland.

Mark Clayton and Lamar Thomas, meanwhile, share the record for most touchdown catches in a Monday night game with three. Clayton did it in the 1984 season finale against Dallas, while Thomas accomplished his feat in a late-season victory against eventual Super Bowl champion Denver in 1998.

Finally, Ricky Williams has the second-best rushing performance ever in a Monday night game with his 216-yard effort against the Chicago Bears in 2002 when the Dolphins wore all-aqua uniforms and won 27-9. The only running back to top Williams’ output was the incomparable Bo Jackson, who rushed for 221 yards for the Raiders against the Seattle Seahawks in a 1987 game.

Also remember that Williams’ performance came eight days after he had rushed for a team-record 228 yards in a loss at Buffalo.

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