The Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots will meet on Monday for the 102nd time in the regular season, and 105th time overall. The Dolphins lead the all-time series with a 52-49 regulation season record.
The Patriots won the first meeting this season 35-17 at Gillette Stadium just a couple weeks ago. The Patriots swept the two matchups last season. They won at home early in the season and then in Miami in the final week.
Here are the three best moments of the Dolphins-Patriots rivalry.
#1 The Dolphins popularize the “Wildcat” formation
The “wildcat” formation was invented by the Dolphins, but its popularity took off after they used it to defeat the Patriots in Week 3 of the 2008 season. Dolphins offensive coordinator Dan Henning had dabbled with it a bit in 2006 while with the Carolina Panthers in the same coaching position. He had DeAngelo Williams in a formation he called “Tiger,” which played off the running back’s alma mater University of Memphis Tigers, at that time taking the snap.
With the Dolphins, Henning and then-head coach Tony Sparano had running back Ronnie Brown take the direct snap and follow his blockers. The tactic all them to use more blockers in front of the ball carrier. It worked to the tune of five touchdowns (four rushing and one passing from Brown to tight end Anthony Fasano) out of the formation. The Dolphins improved to 1-2 while the Patriots fell to 2-1 following 38-13 upset victory.
#2 Dolphins pull off a major upset of the Patriots
The 12-1 Patriots headed south to Miami to take on the 2-11 Dolphins at Pro Player Stadium on Monday night in Week 15 of the 2004 season. However, it was the heavy underdog that came away with the 29-28 victory.
The Patriots marched down the field on the first possession of the game. Quarterback Tom Brady connected with running back Kevin Faulk on a 31-yard touchdown pass to give the Patriots at 7-0 lead.
After a pair of three-and-outs, the Dolphins responded with a long punt return and quick touchdown run by future-Patriot running back Sammy Morris to tie the score.
The Patriots took another seven-point lead midway through the second quarter on a short touchdown run by running back Corey Dillon. The Dolphins answered, but on a field goal by kicker Olindo Mare this time.
After a pair of turnovers to open the second half, the Dolphins took their first lead on a short run by running back Travis Minor just past the midway part of the third quarter. The Patriots quickly answered themselves with a short touchdown pass from Brady to Dillon. The Patriots extended their lead to 11 points on a touchdown pass from Brady to tight end Daniel Graham with 3:59 left in the game.
The Dolphins began their comeback with a on the next drive. Morris scored his second short touchdown run to cut the deficit to five. Dolphins quarterback A.J. Feeley attempted a pass to wide receiver Marty Booker on the two-point conversion, but it was incomplete.
Still needing a stop and a touchdown, the Dolphins caught a big break. The Patriots threw an incomplete pass on first down and then ran for one-yard on second down. The Dolphins only had to use one timeout. On third-down, the Patriots made the fatal mistake that led to the upset.
Brady went back to pass and was intercepted by Dolphins linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo. He returned the ball two yards to the Patriots 21-yard line with 1:45 left in the game. After a false start, two incompletions and a five-yard completion, Feeley connected with wide receiver Derrius Thompson on fourth-and-10 for a 21-yard touchdown. In an attempt to extend the lead to three, the Dolphins went for a two-point conversion. However, once again, Feeley’s pass fell incomplete.
The Patriots had a chance to win the game. They started their final drive at their own 24-yard line, but Brady was sacked and intercepted by defensive back Arturo Freeman giving the ball back to the Dolphins. Feeley took a pair of kneel downs to run out the clock.
#3 Dolphins score 12 straight points in the second half to rally past the Patriots
In Week 13 of the 2009 season, the Dolphins came back from an 11-point deficit in the second half to defeat the Patriots. The Dolphins entered the game one game below .500 and the Patriots were three games above the mark.
Brady wasted no time getting the Patriots on the board. He tossed a 58-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Randy Moss on the game’s opening drive. The Patriots extended the lead the 14-0 on a short touchdown run by Faulk on the first play of the second quarter.
However, the Dolphins got on the board on the ensuing drive with a touchdown pass from quarterback Chad Henne to wide receiver Davone Bess. A few drives later, Dolphins kicker Dan Carpenter made a 24-yard field goal as time expired in the first half to cut the deficit to 14-10.
The Patriots again quickly scored to open the half. After a three-and-out by the Dolphins, Brady connected with wide receiver Sam Aiken for an 81-yard touchdown score on the second play. With a 21-10 lead, it looked as though the Patriots could just coast to victory.
However, the Dolphins answered with a short field goal by Carpenter on the ensuing drive. An immediate three-and-out by the Patriots gave the Dolphins the momentum. The Dolphins methodically took the ball down the field and scored on a short touchdown pass from Henne to wide receiver Brian Hartline. The two-point attempt failed to tie the game, but the Dolphins were only down two points late in the third quarter.
The two teams traded punts and turnovers throughout the fourth quarter, until Carpenter lined up for a 41-yard field goal with 1:07 left in the game. His kick sailed through the uprights to give the Dolphins their one and only lead of the game at 22-21. The Patriots had one last chance to get the winning score, but Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder intercepted Brady with 35 seconds left in the game to seal the victory for the Dolphins.
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