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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins History: Games Played On Christmas Day

Unlike Thanksgiving Day, the NFL only sporadically has scheduled games on Christmas Day.

The Dolphins have played three games on Christmas Day, including the 1971 classic playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs on the first day the NFL played games on that holiday.

Earlier on that Dec. 25, 1971 day, the Dallas Cowboys had defeated the Minnesota Vikings in a first-round playoff game at Metropolitan Stadium. Ironically, the two winning teams on the first NFL Christmas would meet in Super Bowl VI a little more than three weeks later.

There have been 21 Christmas Day games, the last coming in 2017 when Pittsburgh defeated Houston and Philadelphia defeated Oakland.

The Dolphins are 2-1 on Christmas Day, their victory total tied for most and their three appearances tied for third-most behind the five by the Cowboys and the four by Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans.

Here's a quick look back at those Dolphins Christmas games:

1971 — Dolphins 27, Chiefs 24 (2 OT)

This is the game, more than any other, that launched the Dolphins' dynasty of the 1970s. Still the longest game in NFL history, the Dolphins won in the second overtime after Larry Csonka's 29-yard run set up a 37-yard field goal by Garo Yepremian. The winning kick came after both teams missed field goal attempts in overtime and after the Chiefs missed another field goal attempt near the end of regulation. The Dolphins won despite an epic performance by Chiefs running back Ed Podolak, who had 330 all-purpose yards. The Dolphins tied the score with 1:36 remaining in the fourth quarter on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Bob Griese to Marv Fleming.

Lions Dolphins 1994

1994 — Dolphins 27, Lions 20

The Dolphins needed a victory in this Sunday night game at Joe Robbie Stadium to secure the AFC East title and also help Head Coach Don Shula set an NFL record for career regular season wins with his 319th. This was a strange game where the Dolphins had to hang on for a 27-20 victory after taking a 24-3 lead. The Dolphins led 27-10 at halftime, with Detroit getting 10 points without recording a single first down — they got a field goal after a turnover and a kickoff return for a touchdown. Running back Bernie Parmalee took care of the scoring with three short touchdown runs, and the Dolphins defense came up with key plays in the second half to preserve the lead. The last of those was an interception by safety Michael Stewart.

Dolphins Jets 2006

2006 — Jets 13, Dolphins 10

This Monday night contest in the next-to-last week of the 2006 regular season became Nick Saban's final home game as Dolphins head coach. It was a defensive battle where the first points weren't scored until 2:25 remained in the third quarter. The Dolphins tied the score 10-10 with 2:09 left in regulation after long-snapper John Denney recovered a fumble after a Miami punt, but the Jets answered with a 30-yard field goal by Mike Nugent with 10 seconds left. The winning score was set up by a 64-yard pass from future Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington to running back Leon Washington. The victory helped the Jets earned a playoff berth, while the Dolphins closed out their 6-10 season the following week at Indianapolis.

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