Ranking the Most Significant Season-Opening Wins

The Dolphins victory at Gillette Stadium would have to earn a spot as one of the most important Week 1 victories in team history
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The Miami Dolphins improved to 30-25-1 in seasons openers with their one-point victory at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, but not all season-opening victories are created equal.

While we won't know until after the season exactly how impactful the 17-16 win against the New England will end up being, we certainly can understand the significance right now given the quality of the opponent and the series history.

But where does it stack up against other season-opening wins?

Here's our ranking of the top 10 most significant Dolphins season-opening victories:

1. 1984 at Washington: Dolphins 35, Washington 17

Every Dolphins fan of a certain age remembers this game as the start of Dan Marino's spectacular MVP season, but what sometimes gets forgotten is that it came against a Washington team coming off consecutive Super Bowl appearances.

2. 1972 at Kansas City: Dolphins 20, Chiefs 10

This was a rematch of the Christmas Day playoff classic from the previous season as well as the opening of Arrowhead Stadium. The Dolphins led 20-0 in the third quarter before the Chiefs made the score more respectable, but the game set the tone for the perfect season.

3. 2014 at Miami: Dolphins 33, Patriots 20

Any victory against the Patriots during the Belichick-Brady dynasty run was significant, and this one was no different. The game featured a remarkable Dolphins debut performance by running back Knowshon Moreno, who helped Miami outscore New England 23-0 in the second half.

4. 1994 at Miami: Dolphins 39, Patriots 35

Along with being a spectacularly entertaining back-and-forth game (the fourth quarter in particular was wild), this game was significant because it left no doubt that Marino was back after suffering that season-ending Achilles tendon injury the previous October.

5. 1999 at Denver: Dolphins 38, Broncos 21

This was before the NFL decided to open the season with a Thursday night game featuring the defending Super Bowl champions and the Dolphins were selected to face the two-time champion Broncos in the first Monday night game of season. This was an impressive victory that would rank higher on this list if it weren't for the fact that John Elway no longer was the Denver QB.

6. 2001 at Tennessee: Dolphins 31, Titans 23

The Dolphins made an early statement in this Sunday night battle of playoff teams from the previous year in a game that was highlighted by Zach Thomas' pick-six complete with forward flip into the end zone.

7. 1982 at New York: Dolphins 45, Jets 28

The Dolphins blew out the Jets thanks to three touchdowns on returns (two interceptions, one punt) with the cloud of the impending players' strike looming over, but what made this game so significant is that it ended an 0-7-1 skid against the Jets.

8. 2021 at New England: Dolphins 17, Patriots 16

We can say what we want about the Dolphins winning ugly or being fortunate to escape with a victory thanks to that late fumble recovery by Xavien Howard, but the bottom line is that defeating a team many expect to return to the playoffs and doing it at a place few teams have had success for more than two decades is a significant accomplishment no matter how you slice it.

9. 2000 at Miami: Dolphins 23, Seahawks 0

This game was significant in many ways because it was the first for Dave Wannstedt as Dolphins head coach and the first of the post-Marino era. In a rematch of a playoff game from the previous year, the Dolphins dominated on their way to an AFC East title.

10. 2005 at Miami: Dolphins 34, Broncos 10

The victory meant little in retrospect, but it was one fabulous way to start his Dolphins tenure for Nick Saban, a blowout win against a playoff team from the previous year. It added a nice touch that the game ended with Jason Taylor returning a fumble for a touchdown.