Miami Dolphins fans are trying to convince themselves this is different by in their minds they know, “here we go again.”
For those who have followed the Miami Dolphins for any length of time, that is the current sentiment. Since an 8-3 start to the 2022 season, the Dolphins have dropped five straight games.
Currently, at 8-8, Miami no longer controls its own destiny in the AFC playoff picture. As the regular season concludes on Sunday, the Dolphins will need to beat the New York Jets at home and have the Buffalo Bills knock off the New England Patriots to make the postseason.
For Miami, late-season collapses are nothing new. Perhaps nothing illustrates that better than this tweet:
As the Dolphins face a must-win, we decided to take a painful trip down memory lane and look at the worst late-season collapses in franchise history. This season will not be considered for the list as it is not over and the fact that Miami could still make a deep playoff run — as unlikely as that seems at the moment.
Without further ado, here’s a look back at the three worst collapses in Dolphins history:
3. 1995 – Started 4-0, finished 9-7, lost to Buffalo Bills in AFC Wild Card Game
Legendary head coach Don Shula’s final season actually began with a lot of optimism. After Dan Marino led Miami 92 yards to beat Shula’s son, Dave Shula, and the Cincinnati Bengals in a Week 4 thriller, Miami was a perfect 4-0. In fact, the Dolphins were the last remaining unbeaten team in the NFL in 1995.
Against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 5, it looked to be more of the same as the Dolphins raced to a 24-3 halftime lead. That lead would ultimately evaporate as the Colts beat Miami in overtime, 27-24. That spurred a 5-7 finish to the regular season for the Dolphins. They did get help on the final week of the regular season to make the playoffs, but Shula’s finale was a 37-22 Wild Card loss to Buffalo in a contest that wasn’t even as close as the final score would have indicated.
2. 1999 – Started 8-2, finished 9-7, lost to Jacksonville Jaguars in AFC Divisional Playoff
For more than half of quarterback Dan Marino’s final season, it appeared as though the legend may go out as a Super Bowl champion. Although Marino was injured for a good portion of the 1999 season, the ship sailed smoothly with Damon Huard under center as the Dolphins started 7-1. After splitting a pair of games to get to 8-2, Miami closed the regular season by dropping five of its final six games with four losses coming by a single score.
Despite limping into the playoffs, Marino showed he still had a little bit of magic left as he took the Dolphins from the shadow of their own goal line to the end zone in a thrilling 20-17 comeback win over the Seattle Seahawks in the AFC Wild Card Game. Any optimism of a late-season Super Bowl run, however, came to a crashing halt in Jacksonville six days later. In what would Marino’s final career game, the Jacksonville Jaguars dealt the Dolphins their worst postseason loss ever, 62-7.
1. 1993 – Started 9-2, finished 9-7, missed playoffs
Optimism seemed to be have been quelled early during the 1993 season when Dan Marino infamously went down with a tear to his Achilles tendon in an October contest at Cleveland Stadium. That, however, wouldn’t derail Miami — at least not right away. With the likes of Scott Mitchell, Doug Pederson, and Steve DeBerg under center, the Dolphins held the NFL’s best record at 9-2. The highlight of the midseason success was a bizarre 16-14 Thanksgiving Day victory over the Dallas Cowboys at snow-covered Texas Stadium that came courtesy of a Leon Lett gaffe.
Unfortunately for the Dolphins, that victory over the reigning and eventual repeat Super Bowl champions would be their last. Miami closed the year on a five-game losing streak. A 33-27 overtime loss on the road to a New England Patriots team with a first-year head coach named Bill Parcells and a rookie quarterback named Drew Bledsoe would ultimately be the final nail in Miami’s coffin.