Buccaneers–Dolphins rivalry

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Tampa Bay Buccaneers–Miami Dolphins
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wordmark.svg
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Miami Dolphins wordmark.svg
Miami Dolphins
First meetingOctober 24, 1976
Dolphins 23, Buccaneers 20
Latest meetingNovember 19, 2017
Buccaneers 30, Dolphins 20
Next meeting2021
Meetings total11 meetings
All-time seriesTampa Bay 6-5-0
Dolphins lead 17-15-0
Largest victoryMIA 33, TB 14 (1991)
Smallest victoryMIA 25, TB 23 (2009)
Current win streakBuccaneers 2 wins

The Buccaneers–Dolphins rivalry is between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins of the National Football League. It is an in-state, interconference matchup between the two oldest NFL teams in the state of Florida. It has been active in most years since the Buccaneers joined the league as an expansion team in 1976. The rivalry is mostly a mainstay of the preseason, as the teams have been in different conferences since 1977 and as such only play each other during the regular season once every four years.

The Dolphins are part of the AFC East. The Buccaneers are currently part of the NFC South. According to the current NFL scheduling format, the two teams play each other every four years during the regular season, rotating the host site each meeting. In addition, the two clubs play each other during the preseason nearly every year, with the site rotating on a mostly regular basis.

The two teams have never met in the playoffs. Currently, the only circumstance in which the two teams could meet during the postseason would be in the Super Bowl.

The eleven regular season meetings have been characterized in most cases as relatively low-scoring affairs, and oftentimes close. Nine of the eleven have been decided by ten or fewer points, while six have been decided by a field goal.

Though the in-state rivalry has no official nickname, it has sometimes been referred to as the "Sunshine Series."[1]



Tampa Bay joined the NFL as an expansion team in 1976, and immediately team officials were anxious to establish an in-state rivalry with the Miami Dolphins.[2] The two-time Super Bowl winning Dolphins were the more popular and established team of the state, however, fans in the Tampa/St. Pete area were enthusiastic about finally having their own team to cheer for.[3] In Tampa Bay's expansion season, they hosted the Dolphins at Tampa Stadium for a preseason game, in front of a record crowd of 67,466.[4] The Dolphins won 28–21. The two teams met again during the regular season two months later, also in Tampa. The Dolphins again prevailed by a score of 23–20, on a 29-yard field goal by Garo Yepremian with 55 seconds left in regulation.

Though they would play only once every three years during the regular season (due to being in different conferences starting in 1977), the two teams agreed to continue an annual preseason matchup. The two teams played each other for four years (1976–1979). Though the game was considered a "meaningless" exhibition game, the young Bucs team were noted for aggressive play, and for "taking the game seriously."[5] With the Buccaneers known at the time for being a poor team ("0-26") of rag-tag rookies, unwanted veterans, and various free agents, the squad often wanted to showcase themselves in the game and show the league they had ability.[6] The intense play hit a climax in 1978, which saw Dolphins starting quarterback Bob Griese go down with a knee injury. He would be sidelined until October, and the incident drew the ire of Dolphins owner Joe Robbie, who decided to put a stop to the preseason series between the two teams.[5][6]

Of the five meetings in the 1970s (four of which were preseason), Miami won all five games.


With an ongoing squabble between the respective owners Joe Robbie and Hugh Culverhouse,[7] the teams only met twice in the entire decade of the 1980s during the preseason. Their first matchup of the decade was a regular season meeting during the 1982 strike-shortened season, on Monday Night Football. Miami entered the game 3–0, while the Buccaneers were 0–3.[8] The Bucs jumped out to a 16–3 lead, and intercepted Miami five times, en route to a 23–17 victory. It was Tampa Bay's first ever win over Miami. The result reflected upon the perceived "Tampa Bay Curse", as Miami would go to lose Super Bowl XVII.

In the 1981 season, the respective coaching staffs of Miami and Tampa Bay faced each other in the Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium.[9] The AFC, led by Miami's head coach Don Shula defeated John McKay's NFC squad by the score of 16–13.

The highest scoring regular season game between the two teams came in 1985. Miami's Dan Marino passed for 302 yards and three touchdown, while Steve DeBerg threw four touchdowns to Jimmie Giles. Miami won 41–38 on a field goal by Fuad Reveiz with six seconds left.[5]

With the Buccaneers mostly uncompetitive during the 1980s, and the infrequent meetings between the two clubs, the rivalry de-intensified during the decade.[1][5]


Starting in 1991, the two teams revived their preseason rivalry on a permanent basis.[7][10] With Wayne Huizenga assuming control of the Dolphins, and Malcolm Glazer later purchasing the Buccaneers, both teams had new ownership and new direction. The two franchises wholeheartedly agreed upon an annual preseason series. The close proximity between the clubs made the decision one of convenience for both the players and fans. Along with the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars, who started play in 1995, the three Florida teams started a fairly regular three-way intrastate preseason rivalry series.

Miami and Tampa Bay did not play during the preseason in 1993 or 1999. The 1995 game was played at a neutral site, the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando, with the Bucs serving as the home team.

The two teams played twice during the preseason in 1996. On August 3, 1996, Jimmy Johnson made his debut on the sidelines as coach of the Dolphins, while Tony Dungy coached his first game for Tampa Bay. The Dolphins won the first meeting at Joe Robbie Stadium by a score of 13–10. Three weeks later, the Dolphins swept the two-game series with a 19–7 victory.

In 1997, the two teams played each other for the final time in aging Houlihan's Stadium. The home team Buccaneers prevailed with a score of 24–10 in the preseason, and 31-21 a month later in the regular season.


Tampa Bay and Miami have played nearly every preseason in the 21st century, even during years in which they have been scheduled to play during the regular season.

In 2000, the two teams faced each other in a regular season matchup in mid-December. In a driving rain, with sloppy conditions, Buccaneers kicker Martin Gramatica kicked a 46-yard go-ahead field goal which proved to be the winning margin.

On Monday night, August 13, 2001, the two teams played each other for the first time at Raymond James Stadium, in a preseason opener. Dolphins quarterback Mike Quinn threw a 46-yard "Hail Mary" to Robert Baker as time expired to win by a score of 17–13.

During the preseason opener on Monday night August 12, 2002, the two teams met again at Raymond James Stadium. It served as Jon Gruden's first coached game for the Buccaneers. Frank Murphy took the opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown. It was the Buccaneers' fifth kickoff return touchdown in a preseason game, however, at the time, the team had still never returned a kickoff for a touchdown in the regular season (and would do so not until 2007). Tampa Bay would go on to win 14–10.


In 2005, the two teams met in a regular season matchup, a game that drew some controversy in the secondary market of Orlando, Florida.[11] The Buccaneers entered the game in first place with a record of 4–1. The Dolphins were 2-2, and were lauding the anticipated return of Ricky Williams after a year of retirement and a four-game suspension. Due to the complex rules of the NFL television contracts, the Orlando area, well known for having large Dolphins and Buccaneers fanbases, but designated a Jaguars secondary market, was required to instead air a Jacksonville away game during the timeslot. CBS affiliate WKMG lobbied the NFL to reverse the decision and allow the Bucs-Dolphins game to air in Orlando. After several weeks of passionate pleading, the request was denied. Station general manager Henry Maldonado recorded a message for fans that aired just before the broadcast, apologizing for his inability to remedy the situation. In the game, the Buccaneers rolled 27–13, and Williams was not a factor.


They met on Monday Night Football in 2013. Going into the game, considerable media attention focused on the Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin bullying scandal. In addition, Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano was considered on the "hot seat" due to a poor 0–8 record. Tampa Bay jumped out to a 15–0 lead, and held on for a 22–19 victory, their first win of the 2013 season. The Buccaneers defense held Miami to only 2 yards rushing, an all-time record low for the Tampa Bay defense, as well as a franchise record low in terms of productivity for the Dolphins' offense.


The annual preseason meeting was not held in 2016, the first time that had happened since 1999. Both clubs were in the middle of offseason stadium renovations. Tampa Bay played their first two preseason games on the road, and Miami also played their first two preseason games on the road (and the third at a neutral site), preventing the two clubs from logistically being able to meet for a matchup.[12]

In 2017, further stadium renovations in Tampa again precluded a preseason meeting between the two clubs. Both teams were scheduled to meet on opening day in Miami anyway, rendering the preseason match less of a priority. However, due to the approaching Hurricane Irma, the game was moved to November 19, the date in which both clubs were originally scheduled for their bye week. Tampa Bay kicked a go-ahead field goal with 4 seconds remaining in regulation to take a 23–20 lead. It appeared briefly it would be the seventh meeting decided by a field goal or less. On the ensuing kickoff, Miami players attempted to lateral the ball, but fumbled it back into their own endzone where it was recovered by Tampa Bay for an improbable touchdown as time expired, and a 10-point victory.

In 2018–2019, the annual preseason meeting was reprised. However, they were not scheduled to meet in the preseason in 2020, and the 2020 preseason was subsequently cancelled outright due to COVID-19.

The next scheduled regular season meeting will occur in 2021. It will feature former New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady meeting his former division rivals, the Dolphins.[a]

Game results[edit]

Regular season results[edit]

Season Day Date Home team Site Result Overall series
1976 Sunday October 24 Buccaneers Tampa Stadium Dolphins 23–20 Dolphins 1–0
1982 Monday November 29 Buccaneers Tampa Stadium Buccaneers 23–17 Tied 1–1
1985 Sunday October 20 Dolphins Orange Bowl Dolphins 41–38 Dolphins 2–1
1988 Sunday October 30 Buccaneers Tampa Stadium Dolphins 17–14 Dolphins 3–1
1991 Sunday December 1 Dolphins Joe Robbie Stadium Dolphins 33–14 Dolphins 4–1
1997 Sunday September 21 Buccaneers Houlihan's Stadium Buccaneers 31–21 Dolphins 4–2
2000 Sunday December 10 Dolphins Pro Player Stadium Buccaneers 16–13 Dolphins 4–3
2005 Sunday October 16 Buccaneers Raymond James Stadium Buccaneers 27–13 Tied 4–4
2009 Sunday November 15 Dolphins Land Shark Stadium Dolphins 25–23 Dolphins 5–4
2013 Monday November 11 Buccaneers Raymond James Stadium Buccaneers 22–19 Tied 5–5
2017 Sunday November 19 Dolphins Hard Rock Stadium Buccaneers 30–20 Buccaneers 6–5
2021 Sunday October 10 Buccaneers Raymond James Stadium

Preseason results[edit]

Season Day Date Home team Site Result Overall series
1976 Saturday August 21 Buccaneers Tampa Stadium Dolphins 28–21 Dolphins 1–0
1977 Saturday August 6 Buccaneers Tampa Stadium Dolphins 13–7 Dolphins 2–0
1978 Friday August 25 Buccaneers Tampa Stadium Dolphins 24–20 Dolphins 3–0
1979 Saturday August 11 Buccaneers Tampa Stadium Dolphins 13–7 Dolphins 4–0
1980 Not played
1984 Friday August 24 Buccaneers Tampa Stadium Buccaneers 14–13 Dolphins 4–1
1985 Not played
1986 Friday August 29 Dolphins Orange Bowl Dolphins 21–3 Dolphins 5–1
1987 Not played
1991 Saturday August 10 Buccaneers Tampa Stadium Dolphins 29–13 Dolphins 6–1
1992 Saturday August 22 Dolphins Joe Robbie Stadium Dolphins 22–7 Dolphins 7–1
1993 Not played
1994 Saturday August 20 Dolphins Joe Robbie Stadium Buccaneers 29–14 Dolphins 7–2
1995 Friday August 25 Buccaneers Florida Citrus Bowl (Orlando) Buccaneers 24–17 Dolphins 7–3
1996 Saturday August 3 Dolphins Joe Robbie Stadium Dolphins 13–10 Dolphins 8–3
Friday August 23 Buccaneers Houlihan's Stadium Dolphins 19–7 Dolphins 9–3
1997 Saturday August 16 Buccaneers Houlihan's Stadium Buccaneers 24–10 Dolphins 9–4
1998 Thursday August 13 Dolphins Pro Player Stadium Dolphins 14–13 Dolphins 10–4
1999 Not played
2000 Thursday August 10 Dolphins Pro Player Stadium Dolphins 15–13 Dolphins 11–4
2001 Monday August 13 Buccaneers Raymond James Stadium Dolphins 17–13 Dolphins 12–4
2002 Monday August 12 Buccaneers Raymond James Stadium Buccaneers 14–10 Dolphins 12–5
2003 Friday August 8 Dolphins Pro Player Stadium Buccaneers 20–19 Dolphins 12–6
2004 Saturday August 28 Buccaneers Raymond James Stadium Buccaneers 17–10 Dolphins 12–7
2005 Saturday August 27 Dolphins Dolphins Stadium Dolphins 17–14 Dolphins 13–7
2006 Saturday August 19 Buccaneers Raymond James Stadium Dolphins 13–10 Dolphins 14–7
2007 Saturday August 25 Dolphins Dolphin Stadium Buccaneers 31–28 Dolphins 14–8
2008 Saturday August 9 Dolphins Dolphin Stadium Buccaneers 17–6 Dolphins 14–9
2009 Thursday August 27 Buccaneers Raymond James Stadium Dolphins 10–6 Dolphins 15–9
2010 Saturday August 14 Dolphins Sun Life Stadium Dolphins 10–7 Dolphins 16–9
2011 Saturday August 27 Buccaneers Raymond James Stadium Buccaneers 17–13 Dolphins 16–10
2012 Friday August 10 Dolphins Sun Life Stadium Buccaneers 20–7 Dolphins 16–11
2013 Saturday August 24 Dolphins Sun Life Stadium Buccaneers 17–16 Dolphins 16–12
2014 Saturday August 16 Buccaneers Raymond James Stadium Dolphins 20–14 Dolphins 17–12
2015 Thursday September 3 Dolphins Sun Life Stadium Buccaneers 22–17 Dolphins 17–13
2016 Not played
2018 Thursday August 9 Dolphins Hard Rock Stadium Buccaneers 26–24 Dolphins 17–14
2019 Friday August 16 Dolphins Raymond James Stadium Buccaneers 16–14 Dolphins 17–15
2020 Not played; no NFL preseason games due to COVID-19 outbreak


  1. ^ For more information, see Dolphins–Patriots rivalry.


  1. ^ a b Guest, Larry (1991-12-02). "No-doz Should Sponsor Bucs-dolphins 'Rivalry'". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
  2. ^ Nobles, Charles (1975-02-19). "Tampa vs. the Miami Dolphins: a natural rivalry". The Miami News. Retrieved 2012-11-08.
  3. ^ Lassila, Alan (1976-08-20). "Bucs-Dolphins Rivalry Begins Saturday". Sarasota Journal. Retrieved 2012-11-08.
  4. ^ Hornack, Ken (1979-08-11). "Bucs-Dolphins series something special". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2012-11-08.
  5. ^ a b c d Hornack, Ken (1988-10-28). "Bucs vs. Dolphins: State of the Rivalry". The Daytona Beach News-Journal. Retrieved 2012-11-08.
  6. ^ a b Barnes, Craig (1986-08-28). "Buccaneers-dolphins Rivalry Has Been A Real Hit". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
  7. ^ a b "Dolphins, Bucs resume preseason rivalry". Daytona Beach The news Journal. 1991-08-10. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
  8. ^ "Bucs, Dolphins renew rivalry". Lewiston Morning Tribune. 1982-11-29. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
  9. ^ "1982 Pro Bowl game book" (PDF). NFL Game Statistics & Information. National Football League. Archived (PDF) from the original on January 31, 2012. Retrieved January 30, 2012.
  10. ^ Fernandes, Doug (1991-08-10). "Bucs, Dolphins continue rivalry". Ocala Star-Banner. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
  11. ^ Greene, Jerry (2005-10-08). "Dolphins-Bucs won't air here". The Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
  12. ^ NFL preseason schedule: 2016 Buccaneers dates, times and more


See also[edit]