On September 21, 2008, the Miami Dolphins traveled to Foxboro to face the New England Patriots. Miami had lost 20 of their last 21 regular season games. New England had won 21 straight. Understandably, the oddsmakers made Miami a double-digit underdog. Final score: Miami 38 New England 13. A complete beatdown. I later read somebody online call it the Greatest Upset in Dolphins History. Now, normally I hate the knee-jerk reactions of fans unsteeped in sports history and, especially, the loud-mouth sports “journalists” who can’t wait to anoint a game, a team, a player, anything as the greatest ever before the dust settles and we can impartially weight what we’ve just seen. But the more I think about, the more I’m convinced Miami indeed pulled off the biggest upset in team history when they crushed the Pats.
The simple truth is Miami’s rarely pulled off any big upsets in their 42-plus year history. What other candidates exist? Well, we can quickly dispense with any big postseason upsets; Miami’s never had any (sad but true). They’ve never been a big home underdog in a playoff game. And they’ve won exactly three postseason road games ever: beating Kansas City in the 1971 divisional round, Pittsburgh in the 1972 AFC title game and Seattle in a 1999 wild card game. The first of those might be considered a surprise since KC was the established power at the time, but both teams were 10-3-1, and Miami the team on the rise, so the win was a mild upset at best. Certainly nobody was surprised by the time the game ended; you couldn’t have a more evenly played game (double overtime). Now I’ve read that the 1972 Dolphins were actually a slight underdog heading into Super Bowl VII. Even if that were true however, nobody could possibly have been shocked when the undefeated team came out on top that day.
A regular season upset needs to be pretty memorable if anybody’s going to remember it after the thrill of victory wears off. I can only recall exactly one huge and memorable upset sprung by the Dolphins in the regular season. One of the most famous games in NFL history in fact. In week 13 of the 1985 season, the Dolphins shocked the 12-0 Chicago Bears 38-24 on Monday Night. Da Bears were big favorites, winning their previous three games by a combined 104-3 score, but on that night they were no match for Dan Marino’s offense (IMO Marino’s finest moment). Miami halted the Bears’ march to an undefeated season but honestly nobody should have been that shocked. The 1985 Dolphins were defending conference champions, they were at home on Monday Night, and they were 8-4 at the time. Compare that team to the 2008 Dolphins--a winless joke (at the time). And they had to beat the defending conference champs on the road. The point spreads reflected the different circumstances. If I remember correctly, Miami was about an eight-point dog to the Bears while the 2008 squad were double digit underdogs.
There just aren’t any other contenders for the honor. 2008, Week Three: Miami 38 New England 13. The Greatest Upset in Miami Dolphins History.