The Miami Dolphins (3-10) travel back to New Jersey this week to face the New York Giants (2-11) for just the ninth time in the 50 seasons since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger.
Of all the franchises remaining from the time of that merger, the Dolphins are the team the Giants have faced the least amount of times. Here are some nuggets about the minute history between the two teams you might find interesting.
The Giants first played the Dolphins on December 10, 1972 at a muddy Yankee Stadium. Miami came in with a 12-0 record en route to their perfect season. The Giants weren’t pushovers that year at 7-5 under Alex Webster and still had the playoffs in their sights.
But the Dolphins were a team of destiny and the Giants, although they played tough despite six turnovers, fell to Don Shula’s bunch, 23-13. Ron Johnson had two touchdown runs for New York (Pete Gogolak’s PAT after the first TD was blocked). The Giants had an early 6-0 lead but these Dolphins were a more complete team. Maybe the most complete team in NFL history.
Miami rode their three-headed backfield of Mercury Morris, Jim Kiick and Larry Csonka for 197 yards on the ground and veteran QB Earl Morrall — filling in for the injured Bob Griese that season — hit Paul Warfield for a 34-yard touchdown.
Warfield had 132 yards receiving in the game on four receptions. Garo Yepremian booted three field goals in the game.
For more perspective on that game, you can read Shula’s recollection of that day on the Dolphins’ website.
The two clubs did not meet again until September 23, 1990 at Giants Stadium. This time around the Giants were the team of destiny and shut Shula’s bunch down, 20-3. It would be the first time the Giants faced Dan Marino and the only time Marino and Lawrence Taylor were on the same field together.
Taylor had a half-sack in the game and Marino put in a forgettable performance: 14-of-30 for 115 yards with no touchdowns, two interceptions and a sack for a 29.2 QB rating.
Since that game, the clubs have met six times. The Giants won the next two in 1993 and 1996. They lost in 2003, but have won the last three meetings in 2007, 2011 and 2015.
The fact that the two teams met just once in the first 20 years after the merger is a telling sign of how the NFL was run back then to how it is run now. Since the league expanded to 32 teams in 2002 and created their current format of eight divisions consisting of four-teams each, clubs are guaranteed to face one another every four years at the minimum.