Raiders vs. Dolphins:  a Deep Dive into a Rich History

The epic history between the (Oakland) Las Vegas Raiders and the Miami Dolphins is worth exploring as the teams faceoff again this weekend.
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The Miami Dolphins were not an original American Football League team in 1960 along with the Oakland Raiders, joining the AFL as an expansion team in 1966, but the teams have quite a history—especially since they are in a different conference and haven’t played each other all that often.

The Dolphins (9-5) and rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa are expected to end the slim playoffs hopes of the Raiders (7-7) on Saturday night at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas and close in on a playoff spot themselves while taking the lead in a series that stands at 17-17-1 in regular-season games.

The Raiders beat the Dolphins, 23-14, in the first regular-season game in Miami history at the Orange Bowl in 1966 and dominated early by winning the first five games in the series.

However, Coach Don Shula built the Dolphins into a powerhouse with quarterback Bob Griese, wide receiver Paul Warfield running back Larry Csonka, guard Larry Little, center Jim Langer, linebacker Nick Buoniconti, defensive tackle Manny Fernandez—all members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame—and the rest of a loaded roster.

The Dolphins lost Super Bowl VI to the Dallas Cowboys, 24-3, but won Super Bowl VII to complete the only 17-0 season in NFL history with a 14-7 victory over the Washington Redskins, and repeated in Super Bowl VIII with a 24-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

The Raiders met the Dolphins for the first time in the playoffs in a 1970 Divisional Playoff game when Daryle Lamonica threw an 82-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Rod Sherman to give the Silver and Black a 21-14 victory at the Oakland Coliseum.

Three years later, the Raiders ended Miami’s 18-game winning streak with a 12-7 victory on four field goals by George Blanda in a game that was played at Memorial Stadium at the University of California in Berkeley because the Oakland Athletics were playing in the Oakland Coliseum on their way to three straight World Series titles.

However, later that season, the Dolphins dominated the Raiders, 27-10, in the AFC Championship Game at the Orange Bowl en route to winning their second straight Super Bowl.

But the Raiders got a bit of revenge the following season by upsetting the two-time defending Super Bowl champion Dolphins in the most dramatic game in series history, 28-26, in a Divisional Playoff game at the Oakland Coliseum.

That one has gone down in history as the “Sea of Hands” game.

Quarterback Kenny (Snake) Stabler seemingly was being sacked by defensive end Vern Den Herder and somehow got off a pass toward running back Clarence Davis, who was surrounded by Dolphins defenders in the end zone but somehow caught the ball for an eight-yard touchdown with 26 seconds left.

The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Raiders the next week and again the next season in AFC Championship Games, but the Silver and Black finally got past the Steelers, 24-7, in the 1976 title game and went on to win their first world title by beating the Minnesota Vikings, 32-14, in Super Bowl XI.

The series with the Dolphins haven’t been nearly as dramatic since, but the Raiders did beat Miami, 27-0, in a 2001 AFC Divisional Playoff game at the Oakland Coliseum and hold a 3-1 record post-season games.

The Dolphins won, 28-20, the last time they played the Raiders in 2018, after the Silver and Black won, 27-24, the year before—both games in Miami.

The Raiders will try to regain the lead in the series on Saturday, but they really need this one to simply help themselves finish strong, even if they don’t make the playoffs.

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