The Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are not division, or even conference, rivals, but the two teams separated by about 230 miles do have a history. They will meet for just the 11th time in the regular season and 40th time including the preseason, on Sunday.
The series is tied with both teams having a 5-5 record. The last time the two teams played was in 2013 with the Buccaneers winning 22-19 at Raymond James Stadium.
Here are the three best moments in the Dolphins-Buccaneers interstate rivalry.
#1 The interstate rivalry takes a break
The Dolphins and Buccaneers played every year in the preseason since the inception of the Tampa Bay franchise, but following an injury to Bob Griese put a temporary end to the arrangement.
The Buccaneers took the preseason contests with a lot more seriousness than the Dolphins. That ramped up the intensity from one side, while the other played with an exhibition attitude, led the injury to the Dolphins starting quarterback. Griese hurt his knee on a hit from Buccaneers linebacker Cecil Johnson and missed the first seven games of the 1978 season.
Dolphins owner Joe Robbie did not like what had transpired and decided to discontinue the preseason rivalry. They played one more preseason tilt in 1979 before it went on hiatus for the better part of the next decade.
In 1991, Wayne Huizenga took ownership of the Dolphins and Malcolm Glazer later bought the Buccaneers. The new ownership groups revived the rivalry. The two teams have played in the preseason every year, but four seasons, including the last two, since.
#2 Buccaneers beat Dolphins for first win in 2013
The last time the two teams played, the Buccaneers entered the game with a 0-8 record and a coach on the hot seat. The Dolphins had some drama of their own with the Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin bullying scandal taking center stage.
The media attention was on the off-field incident involving the Dolphins’ offensive linemen, but the game on the field was a close game that featured a touchdown catch by an offensive tackle and a safety. It was a grind-it-out type of game with no offensive non-penalty plays going for more than 31 yards and just three going for more than 20.
The Buccaneers prevailed with a 22-19 lead after holding off a second-half Dolphins charge. Buccaneers running back Bobby Rainey plunged across the goal line on a one-yard touchdown for the game-winning score in the fourth quarter.
Buccaneers Offensive tackle caught Donald Penn caught a one-yard touchdown pass from Mike Glennon in the first quarter to get the scoring started. Two field goals and a safety later, the Buccaneers had a 15-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
The score stayed that way until Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill tossed a six-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Rishard Matthews with 28 seconds left in the first half. Dolphins kicker Caleb Sturgis made a pair of field goals sandwiched around a second Tannehill to Matthews touchdown pass to give Miami a 19-15 lead after three quarters.
After Rainey’s winning score in the early stages of the fourth quarter, the two teams traded punts and the Dolphins were stopped on fourth down. Two run plays and a Glennon kneel-down later and the Buccaneers had their first win of the season.
The Buccaneers went on to win their next two games and finished the season with a 4-12 record and got out of the bottom five in the league. The Dolphins went on to win four of their next five, but lost the final two and had an 8-8 record at the end of the season.
#3 Orlando’s fan base for both teams got blacked out
The Buccaneers and Dolphins built a very good and deep fan base in the Orlando area throughout the years. Even with the Jacksonville Jaguars just a few hours away, bars, restaurants, and homes in central Florida want to watch the Buccaneers and Dolphins whenever they play each other when they do.
However, in 2005, the two teams met in Week 6 with some storylines that caused a bit of a stir. The Buccaneers were leading the NFC South with a 4-1 record and the Dolphins welcomed running back Ricky Williams after a year-long retirement and four-game suspension.
Due to television contracts, the CBS-affiliate in Orlando was required to show the Jaguars game instead of the Dolphins-Buccaneers game as a secondary market for Jacksonville. Station manager Henry Maldonado requested that the station is allowed to show the Dolphins-Buccaneers game. After several weeks of pleading, the NFL denied the request.
Prior to showing the Jaguars game, Maldonado recorded a message apologizing to fans for not being able to get the broadcast changed.
The Buccaneers went on to win the game 27-13 with the help of four sacks and four turnovers on defense.
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