Five snapshots from the Dolphins-Patriots series, focusing on December games in New England...
Dec. 3, 1972
Three weeks after they had handed the Patriots a 52-0 shutout at the Orange Bowl, the Dolphins traveled to the old Schaefer Stadium to continue their perfect season. The Dolphins made it 12-0 on the season with a 37-21 victory that wasn't nearly as close as the final score would indicate. Behind a running game that produced 304 yards, the Dolphins built a 37-7 lead in the fourth quarter before New England scored two late touchdowns.
Dec. 12, 1982
This game at Schaefer Stadium produced one of the most surreal moments in Dolphins history. It was cold, snowy and windy on this December day in Massachusetts and the Dolphins and Patriots offenses understandably had difficult producing much offense. Each team unsuccessfully attempted a field goal in the first three quarters, New England's John Smith slipping on an 18-yard try that ended up hitting a teammate in the helmet. So when the Patriots got themselves a field goal opportunity from 33 yards out with about five minutes left in the fourth quarter of a scoreless game, they called a timeout and directed a prisoner out on work parole to drive a snowplow onto the field to clear out a spot for kicker John Smith. The strategy worked because Smith made the field goal. The Dolphins then drove to the Patriots 19-yard line, but quarterback David Woodley was intercepted on third down and New England ended up with a truly unique 3-0 victory.
Dec. 27, 1992
The Dolphins needed to defeat the 2-13 Patriots and have Buffalo lose at Houston later in the day to win the AFC East title, and that's exactly what happened, though the first part proved more difficult than anticipated. The Dolphins trailed for most of the game before tying the score 13-13 on Bobby Humphrey's 1-yard touchdown run with 2:53 left in the fourth quarter. New England then drove to the Miami 28-yard line with 22 seconds left. On third down, Larry Webster and Chuck Klingbeil combined for a huge 11-yard sack of quarterback Jeff Carlson and the game went to overtime, where the Dolphins won on Pete Stoyanovich's third field goal of the game. Along with helping the Dolphins take the AFC East title, the victory was the 300th in the regular season in Don Shula's Hall of Fame career.
Dec. 24, 2000
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 Dophins did it all over again.
Dec. 29, 2002
Ricky Williams put the finishing touches on one of the greatest individual seasons in Dolphins history when he rushed for 185 yards and two touchdowns on 31 attempts against the Patriots in Miami's first-ever visit to Gillette Stadium. Williams' second rushing touchdown of the game, a 14-yarder in the second quarter, establishes a new Dolphins single-season, surpassing the previous mark of 15 set by Karim Abdul-Jabbar in 1997. Williams becomes the first Dolphins player to lead the NFL in rushing, setting a franchise record of 1,853 yards that still stands to this day. He also sets still-standing single-season franchise records for attempts (383), 100-yard rushing games (10) and total yards from scrimmage (2,216).