Buccaneers–Dolphins rivalry

Tampa Bay Buccaneers–Miami Dolphins
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Miami Dolphins
First meeting October 24, 1976
MIA 23, TB 20
Latest meeting November 11, 2013
TB 22, MIA 19
Next meeting 2017 (regular season)
Meetings total 10 meetings
All-time series Tied 5-5-0
Dolphins lead 17-12-0
Largest victory MIA 33, TB 14 (1991)
Smallest victory MIA 25, TB 22 (2009)
Current win streak Buccaneers 1 win

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 primarily confined to the preseason, as the teams have been in different conferences since 1977 and do not play one another during the regular season every year.

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 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 ten regular season meetings have been characterized in most cases as relatively low-scoring affairs, and oftentimes close. Eight of the ten 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 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.


The most recent regular season meeting took place 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 has 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 in a neutral site), preventing the two clubs from logistically being able to meet for a matchup.[12]

Game results

Regular season results

Series is tied 5-5-0

Season Day Date Visiting team Home team Site
1976SundayOctober 24Dolphins 23Buccaneers 20Tampa Stadium
1982MondayNovember 29Dolphins 17 Buccaneers 23Tampa Stadium
1985SundayOctober 20Buccaneers 38 Dolphins 41Orange Bowl
1988SundayOctober 30Dolphins 17Buccaneers 14Tampa Stadium
1991SundayDecember 1Buccaneers 14 Dolphins 33Joe Robbie Stadium
1997SundaySeptember 21Dolphins 21 Buccaneers 31Houlihan's Stadium
2000SundayDecember 10Buccaneers 16Dolphins 13 Pro Player Stadium
2005SundayOctober 16Dolphins 13 Buccaneers 27Raymond James Stadium
2009SundayNovember 15Buccaneers 23Dolphins 25Land Shark Stadium
2013MondayNovember 11Dolphins 19 Buccaneers 22 Raymond James Stadium

Preseason results

Miami leads the series 17-13

Season Day Date Visiting team Home team Site
1976SaturdayAugust 21 Dolphins 28Buccaneers 21Tampa Stadium
1977SaturdayAugust 6 Dolphins 13Buccaneers 7Tampa Stadium
1978FridayAugust 25Dolphins 24Buccaneers 20Tampa Stadium
1979SaturdayAugust 11Dolphins 13Buccaneers 7Tampa Stadium
1980Not played
1984FridayAugust 24Dolphins 13Buccaneers 14Tampa Stadium
1985Not played
1986FridayAugust 29Buccaneers 3Dolphins 21Orange Bowl
1987Not played
1991SaturdayAugust 10Dolphins 29Buccaneers 13Tampa Stadium
1992SaturdayAugust 22Buccaneers 7Dolphins 22Joe Robbie Stadium
1993Not played
1994SaturdayAugust 20Buccaneers 29Dolphins 14Joe Robbie Stadium
1995FridayAugust 25Dolphins 17Buccaneers 24Florida Citrus Bowl (Orlando)
1996SaturdayAugust 3Buccaneers 10Dolphins 13Joe Robbie Stadium
FridayAugust 23Dolphins 19Buccaneers 7Houlihan's Stadium
1997SaturdayAugust 16Dolphins 10Buccaneers 24Houlihan's Stadium
1998ThursdayAugust 13Buccaneers 13Dolphins 14Pro Player Stadium
1999Not played
2000ThursdayAugust 10Buccaneers 13Dolphins 15Pro Player Stadium
2001MondayAugust 13Dolphins 17Buccaneers 13Raymond James Stadium
2002MondayAugust 12Dolphins 10Buccaneers 14Raymond James Stadium
2003FridayAugust 8Buccaneers 20Dolphins 19Pro Player Stadium
2004SaturdayAugust 28Dolphins 10Buccaneers 17Raymond James Stadium
2005SaturdayAugust 27Buccaneers 14Dolphins 17Dolphins Stadium
2006SaturdayAugust 19Dolphins 13Buccaneers 10Raymond James Stadium
2007SaturdayAugust 25Buccaneers 31Dolphins 28Dolphin Stadium
2008SaturdayAugust 9Buccaneers 17Dolphins 6Dolphin Stadium
2009ThursdayAugust 27Dolphins 10Buccaneers 6Raymond James Stadium
2010SaturdayAugust 14Buccaneers 7Dolphins 10Sun Life Stadium
2011SaturdayAugust 27Dolphins 13Buccaneers 17Raymond James Stadium
2012FridayAugust 10Buccaneers 20Dolphins 7Sun Life Stadium
2013SaturdayAugust 24 Buccaneers 17 Dolphins 16Sun Life Stadium
2014SaturdayAugust 16Dolphins 20 Buccaneers 14 Raymond James Stadium
2015ThursdaySeptember 3Buccaneers 22Dolphins 17Sun Life Stadium
2016Not played


  1. 1 2 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 2012-11-00. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  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. 1 2 3 4 Hornack, Ken (1988-10-28). "Bucs vs. Dolphins: State of the Rivalry". The Daytona Beach News-Journal. Retrieved 2012-11-08.
  6. 1 2 Barnes, Craig (1986-08-28). "Buccaneers-dolphins Rivalry Has Been A Real Hit". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
  7. 1 2 "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 30, 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

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