As the Miami Dolphins fight for a playoff position during the final week of the regular season, that’s also what they were doing 40 years ago.
On Jan. 2, 1983, Miami needed just a win to clinch the AFC East. That test was passed with flying colors as the Dolphins rolled past the Baltimore Colts at Memorial Stadium, 34-7.
At 6-2 during the strike-shortened 1982 season, the Dolphins were even with the New York Jets atop the division when the day began. Miami held the tiebreaker but wasted no time taking care of business.
David Woodley finished the day with 239 yards passing and three touchdowns. His scoring tosses to Nat Moore and Jimmy Cefalo helped the Dolphins build a 17-7 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, Miami put the contest away with 17 unanswered points. Andra Franklin scored Miami’s lone rushing touchdown of the day. After Uwe von Schamann’s second field goal, Woodley capped the scoring with a touchdown toss to Bruce Hardy.
The Dolphins outgained the Colts by nearly 100 yards. Defensively, Miami finished with seven sacks and forced five turnovers.
Lyle Blackwood and Don McNeal each recorded interceptions. Doug Betters and Charles Bowser each finished with multiple sacks. Zachary Dixon scored the lone Baltimore touchdown.
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With the win, the Dolphins finished 7-2 during the lockout-shortened season and claimed home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. With an extended playoff field, the Dolphins cruised to their first Super Bowl appearance in nine years.
Miami ultimately fell to the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XVII, 27-17. While Miami settled for an AFC championship instead of a world championship, it also claimed an AFC East title. That was clinched on this day four decades ago.