Last Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium, the New England Patriots defeated the New York Jets, 15-10. It was far from a scintillating contest. However, it was the Pats’ 15th consecutive victory over this AFC East rival, a streak that dates back to 2016.
There have been some longer stretches of dominance by one team over another throughout NFL history. However, there’s one series that stands out among the others. It involves two teams that will clash this Sunday afternoon in Orchard Park, New York.
It started with the first season of the new-look league thanks to the on-the-field merger between the NFL and AFL in 1970. There would be two conferences housing three divisions each. The AFC East would be the home of the Baltimore Colts, Boston Patriots, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, and New York Jets.
Miami’s new head coach was former Colts’ sideline leader Don Shula, who had guided that club to Super Bowl III. The Dolphins would become a powerhouse and the franchise would reach three straight Super Bowls from 1971-73, winning it all in 1972 and ’73. During his first decade with the team, the Dolphins won 104 regular-season games, topped only by the Dallas Cowboys (105). Nearly 20 percent of Shula’s victories (20) came at the expense of the Buffalo Bills.
That’s right. The Miami Dolphins swept the Bills 10 straight years from 1970-79. It’s the longest streak of success by one team over another in NFL history. Buffalo was not nearly the power that the Dolphins were as that franchise made only one postseason appearance during that decade (1974). The team owned a 51-91-2 regular-season mark over that span.
As for those 20 straight wins, Shula’s Dolphins outscored the Bills by a combined 565-299 count. That is an average score of 28.3-15.0. Miami limited Buffalo to 16 points or less 12 times while the Bills scored at least 30 points just once. Shula’s club reached the 30-point mark in 11 of those games. Buffalo was shut out three times in those 20 outings.
In the first week of the 1980 season, the Bills finally ended the long skid against the Dolphins with a 17-7 victory at Buffalo. These days, the Bills have been the better team under head coach Sean McDermott. Including last year’s wild-card win over Mike McDaniel’s club, Buffalo is 11-2 vs. the Dolphins under their current head coach. These kinds of things can be quite cyclical.
But back in the day…