The year was 1995, one that proved to be the final season for Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Don Shula. The Miami Dolphins won their first four games and dropped seven of their final 12 contests but still grabbed a playoff berth. The club was one-and-done courtesy of a 37-22 loss at Buffalo.
That’s the last time the franchise won its first four games. The Dolphins can equal that start with a win at Orchard Park on Sunday, a place the team hasn’t prevailed since 2016.
All-Time Series Record
Including five postseason clashes between the teams, four won by the Bills, the Dolphins still own a six-game lead (62-56-1) in the series standings. Lately, it’s been mostly Buffalo and it started in 2017 when the franchise hired Sean McDermott to be their head coach. Including last year’s wild card clash at Orchard Park, the Bills are an imposing 11-2 vs. the Dolphins under McDermott. That includes a perfect 7-0 home record.
The Last Time
This is not only a divisional game but a playoff rematch from 2022.
Dolphins 21, Bills 19 (Week 3): Mike McDaniel’s team was outgained in total yards, 497-212, and the Bills ran 90 offensive plays to the Dolphins’ 39. The defense forced four fumbles (1 recovery) and sacked Josh Allen four times. The Dolphins held off a late Bills rally to snap a seven-game losing streak in the rivalry.
Bills 32, Dolphins 29 (Week 15): On a Saturday night at Orchard Park, the Dolphins appeared on the verge of a series sweep, taking a 29-21 lead in the fourth quarter. However, the Bills scored the final 11 points of the game. Raheem Mostert ran for 136 yards and Tua Tagovailoa threw for 234 yards and two scores.
Bills 34, Dolphins 31 (AFC Wild Card Game): The Dolphins trailed 17-0 early in the second quarter but Mike McDaniel’s club rallied to take a 24-20 lead in the third quarter. The defense forced Josh Allen into three turnovers, but for the third time in 2022, the Bills gained 400-plus yards vs. Miami’s defense.
Most Memorable Meeting
As previously mentioned, the Dolphins and Bills have met five times in the playoffs, with Buffalo coming up with four wins. Miami’s lone postseason victory in this AFC East series came in 1998 in South Florida. Jimmy Johnson’s club was limited to a pair of first-half field goals but scored a pair of second-half touchdowns in a 24-17 triumph. The Bills gained 416 total yards but Miami came up with five takeaways.
Key to the Game
Can the Buffalo pass rush consistently pressure Dolphins’ quarterback Tua Tagovailoa? Miami’s fourth-year signal-caller has been sacked just once in a total of 102 pass plays. Miami’s offensive front will be dealing with a defense that came up with nine sacks of Washington’s Sam Howell last week, giving the Bills 12 QB traps this season. Meanwhile, Sean McDermott’s club leads the NFL with nine takeaways.
Dolphins Player to Watch
So much for all of the drama surrounding the Bills’ passing combination of quarterback Josh Allen and wide receiver Stefon Diggs. The latter is tied for second in the league with 25 receptions, good for 279 yards and one score. Including last year’s wild card match-up at Buffalo, four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Xavien Howard has faced the Bills 11 times. He’s totaled five interceptions and 13 passes defensed.