INSIDE THE NUMBERS: The Dolphins in December

Posted Nov 29, 2013

In their history, the Dolphins have run the table in December an impressive eight times.

The Dolphins are heading into the final month of the season, a rare December where they’ll play five games.

This will mark the seventh time the Dolphins play five games in December, the other times coming in 1990, 2001, 2002, 2006, 2007 and 2012. This will be only the second time that three of the five games in December will be on the road — it also happened in 2002 when the Dolphins played at Buffalo, Minnesota and New England.

For anyone wanting to look ahead, the only way the Dolphins will play five December games in 2014 is if they’re scheduled for the Monday night game on Dec. 1 of next year.

The Dolphins will begin and end the month with games against the New York Jets, the sixth time in franchise history they’ll face the same opponent twice in December. The previous occasions occurred last year against New England, in 1999 against the New York Jets, in 1989 against the Kansas City Chiefs, in 1968 against the Jets, and in 1967 against the Houston Oilers.

December traditionally has been pretty good for the Dolphins, but then again Miami has a winning all-time record in every month. Including games this season, December is the Dolphins’ second-most successful month with a winning percentage of .572. September took over the No. 1 spot after the Dolphins’ 3-1 showing this season moved its winning percentage to .574. The Dolphins have an all-time winning percentage of .570 in October and .555 in November.

Currently in a six-team tie for sixth place in the AFC standings, the Dolphins could use a December run to separate themselves from the pack — and they’ve done it before. In their history, the Dolphins have run the table in December an impressive eight times, compared to only once (in 1993) when they failed to win a game in that month.

The Dolphins’ perfect Decembers:

1970, 3-0, 10-4 final record
1972, 3-0, 14-0 final record
1978, 3-0, 11-5 final record
1981, 4-0, 11-4-1 final record
1983, 3-0, 12-4 final record
1985, 4-0, 12-4 final record
2005, 4-0, 9-7 final record
2008, 4-0, 11-5 final record

In looking back at the Dolphins’ previous Decembers, one thing that stands out are the individual performances — in particular the rushing performances.

Perhaps it’s pure coincidence, but seven of the Dolphins’ top eight individual rushing performances (including playoffs) have come in December, topped by Ricky Williams’ back-to-back stellar outings against Buffalo and Chicago back in 2002.

The top individual rushing performances in Dolphins history:

Ricky Williams 228 Dec.1, 2002 at Buffalo
Ricky Williams 216 Dec. 9, 2002 vs.Chicago
Lamar Smith 209 Dec. 30, 2000 vs.Indianapolis*
Reggie Bush 203 Dec. 18, 2011 at Buffalo
Mercury Morris 197 Sept. 30, 1973 vs. New England
Rucky Williams 185 Dec. 24, 2009 at New England
Gary Davis 172 Dec. 17, 1977 vs. Buffalo
Ricky Williams 172 Dec. 24, 2005 vs. Tennessee

* - Playoff game

On the opponent’s side, it should be noted that the only two 200-yard individual rushing performances against the Dolphins since they started playing in 1966 have come — you guessed it — in December. For the record, they were produced by Buffalo’s O.J. Simpson in December of 1976 and by New Orleans’ Rueben Mayes in December of 1986.

When it comes to big passing games, though, December hasn’t been a big month for Dolphins opponents. The proof? Of the 34 biggest individual passing yardage totals by a Dolphins opponent, 11 have come in November, 11 in September, 10 in October, two in January and exactly zero in December.

To repeat, none — zero, zip, zilch — of the top 34 passing yardage performances by a Dolphins opponent has come in December.

By comparison, four of the Dolphins’ 20 games where their quarterback passed for 400 yards or more have come in December. The four, not shockingly, were produced by Dan Marino.

The Dolphins’ last 300-yard passing performance in December came from Chad Henne in 2009 when he threw for 322 yards against the Houston Texans.

While the Dolphins have had 29 300-yard passing games and 37 100-yard rushing performances in December, the most milestone offensive games have come on the receiving end with 48 individual 100-yard performances in that month. The most recent came in 2011 when Brandon Marshall had 143 yards at New England.

On the defensive side, the Dolphins twice have had a player return two interceptions for touchdowns in the same game — Dick Anderson in 1973 and Mike Kozlowski in 1983. Yes, both of them did it in December. Anderson’s two TDs came in a game where he had four interceptions, which remains the team record.
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