INSIDE THE NUMBERS: The Dolphins In Home Openers

Posted Sep 20, 2013

The Dolphins have had tremendous success in home openers in their history, compiling a record of 32-14-1.


When the Dolphins used a 28-point second half to race past the Oakland Raiders in their 2012 home opener, it was like a trip back in time.

The 35-13 victory against Oakland snapped a disappointing six-game losing streak in home openers, and the Dolphins can only hope it was the start of yet another long winning streak.

See, the Dolphins have had tremendous success in home openers in their history, compiling a record of 32-14-1, the one tie coming against the Oakland Raiders (20-20) all the way back in 1969.

In fashioning their impressive home-opener record, the Dolphins put together streaks of three victories twice, nine victories and an amazing 13-game run from 1976-88.

The nine-game streak from 1994 through 2002 was part of the Dolphins’ 11-game winning streak in season openers (home or away), which stands as the second-longest in NFL history — Dallas won 17 in a row between 1965 and 1981.

When the Dolphins beat the Houston Oilers in Week 2 of their perfect season of 1972, it began a stretch where Miami would win 28 of 31 home openers.

The Dolphins have had their share of blowout victories in home openers as well, with 12 victories by 20 points or more.

The list:

1972, 34-13 vs. Houston
1977, 27-7 vs. Houston
1981, 30-10 vs. Pittsburgh
1984, 28-7 vs. New England
1986, 30-10 vs. Indianapolis
1987, 42-0 vs. Kansas City
1990, 30-7 vs. Buffalo
1995, 52-14 vs. N.Y. Jets*
2000, 23-0 vs. Seattle*
2002, 49-21 vs. Detroit*
2005, 34-10 vs. Denver*
2012, 35-13 vs. Oakland

The four games marked with an asterisk represent games that also were season openers.

The game against the Kansas City Chiefs in 1987 actually was the Dolphins’ fourth game of that season. It also was the first regular season game played at Sun Life Stadium, which was known as Joe Robbie Stadium back then. It also was a game played by strike replacement players.

As a side note, the first regular season touchdown ever scored at Sun Life Stadium came courtesy of running back Rickey Isom, who never played in the NFL before or after the players’ strike of 1987.

While they’ve had a dozen blowout victories in their home openers, the Dolphins have never once lost a game by more than 17 points (37-20 against Dallas in 2007).

The Dolphins also have done well in close games in home openers, going 10-5-1 in games decided by seven points or less.

One of those 10 victories was the memorable 2001 home opener against the Oakland Raiders on the first weekend of NFL action following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. That was the day the Dolphins pulled out an 18-15 victory on a last-second touchdown scramble by quarterback Jay Fiedler, whose triumphant reaction made the cover of Sports Illustrated that week.

That game was played on Sept. 23, almost exactly 12 years before this year’s home opener against the Falcons.

This season marks the eighth time the Dolphins’ home opener comes after the team started with two road games. Miami is 5-2 in those games.

Here’s the rundown, along with the Dolphins’ record heading into the game:

1970, 1-1 coming in, beat Oakland 20-13
1971, 1-0-1 coming in, lost to New York Jets 14-10
1976, 1-1 coming in, beat New York Jets 16-0
1977, 2-0 coming in, beat Houston 27-7
1978, 1-1 coming in, beat Buffalo 31-24
1988, 0-2 coming in, beat Green Bay 24-17
2010, 2-0 coming in, lost to New York Jets 31-23

Finally, the game against Atlanta will mark the seventh time the Dolphins’ home opener comes against an NFC team. The Dolphins have had good success in those games as well, going 5-1. The one loss was the Dallas game in 2007, and it came after victories against San Francisco in 1973, Green Bay in 1988, the Los Angeles Rams in 1992, Arizona in 1999 and the Detroit Lions in the season opener in 2002.

In terms of individual performances, the top passing and receiving home openers both came in the 1994 game against the New England Patriots when Dan Marino threw for 473 yards and five touchdowns, with Irving Fryar catching five passes for 211 yards and three scores. On the ground, the best performance in a home opener came just last year as Reggie Bush rushed for 172 yards and two touchdowns against the Raiders.
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