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Dolphins History: Memorable Season Finales

The Dolphins will close out their 54th season when they face the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on Sunday.

There have been some memorable season finales in those first 53 years, and we look back at 10 that stand out.

1970 — Dolphins 45, Bills 7

Needing a victory to clinch the first playoff berth in franchise history, the Dolphins took care of business in decisive fashion. They built a 31-0 halftime lead on their way to their sixth consecutive win to end the regular season.

1972 — Dolphins 16, Colts 0

The Dolphins closed out the first 14-0 regular season in NFL history in style, with the defense coming up with six takeaways at the Orange Bowl. On offense, the Dolphins rushed for 170 yards to set a league single-season record with 2,960 yards.

Don Shula 1983

1974 — Dolphins 34, Patriots 27

Behind two touchdown passes from Earl Morrall, the Dolphins produced the biggest rally in franchise history when they overcame a 24-0 second-quarter deficit. This was the Dolphins' 31st consecutive victory at the Orange Bowl and gave them an 11-3 record on the season.

1983 — Dolphins 34, Jets 14

The Dolphins closed out Dan Marino's rookie season without their star quarterback, who sat out the Friday night game because of a knee injury. The Dolphins still were able to wrap up a 12-4 regular season in style thanks to Don Strock throwing two touchdown passes and safety Mike Kozlowski tying a franchise record by returning two interceptions for touchdowns.

1984 — Dolphins 28, Cowboys 21

This was the perfect ending to the Dolphins' magical 1984 regular season. Dan Marino, who already had set the NFL single-season passing yardage record, went over the 5,000-yard mark and threw three touchdown passes to Mark Clayton, who set a league record when his third TD catch gave him 18 on the season. The win gave the Dolphins a 14-2 record.

1994 — Dolphins 27, Lions 20

The Dolphins clinched the AFC East title on Christmas night and helped 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.

1995 — Dolphins 41, Rams 22

The Dolphins got two TD passes from Dan Marino and two rushing scores from Bernie Parmalee to win at TWA Dome, a victory that gave them a 9-7 record and a playoff berth when Denver beat Oakland later in the day. More importantly, this was the 347th and final victory of Don Shula's Hall of Fame coaching career.

2000 — Dolphins 27, Patriots 24

This was a great victory with a truly bizarre ending. The Dolphins scored 10 points in the final 4:09, including Olindo Mare's game-winning 49-yard field goal with 9 seconds left to give the Dolphins a 27-24 victory that gave them the AFC East title. But while Coach Dave Wannstedt was giving a victory speech in the visitors locker room, the Dolphins were informed that officials had put two seconds back on the clock and both teams would have to return to the field for one final play. Backup quarterback Michael Bishop took that final snap for New England and his desperation heave from the Patriots 40-yard line fell incomplete at the Dolphins 25-yard line. Thirty minutes after celebrating a division title, the Dolphins did it all over again.

2008 — Dolphins 24, Jets 17

The Dolphins capped the greatest one-year turnaround in NFL history by defeating the Jets at the Meadowlands to finish 11-5 and clinch the AFC East title. Defensive lineman Phillip Merling scored on a pick-six and former Jets quarterback Chad Pennington, who had joined the Dolphins in August after being released by New York, all but clinched the victory with a key fourth-and-1 run late in the fourth quarter.

2011 — Dolphins 19, Jets 17

Defensive tackle Randy Starks came up with two interceptions and Dan Carpenter kicked four field goals, including one from 58 yards out, but this game stood out as the last one of Jason Taylor's Hall of Fame career. Taylor, who earlier had announced his retirement, was carried off the field by his teammates.

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