Throwback Game of the Week: MIA @ SD

History Published on : 10/1/2009

Week 3: Miami at San Diego

No game can be played between the Miami Dolphins and the San Diego Chargers without reference to their famous showdown in the 1981 AFC Divisional Playoff Game. The Chargers prevailed in overtime in that game, one of the NFL’s all-time classics. Despite the fact that battle overshadows the Dolphins-Chargers series, the fact remains that there have been many great games played between the two AFC giants. Miami holds a slim 12-10 lead in the regular season series while the clubs have split the four playoff games between them. Currently, the Dolphins take a seven-game regular season win streak against San Diego into Sunday’s game.

First Time:

Oct. 2, 1966 – The expansion Dolphins led 10-6 at halftime in this game played in San Diego. Quarterback Steve Tensi came off the bench for the Chargers in the second half to replace starter John Hadl. He responded by firing four touchdown passes to leadSan Diego to a convincing 44-10 victory.

Last Time:

Oct. 5, 2008 – The Dolphins extended its regular season winning streak over the Chargers to seven with a 17-10 win over San Diego. Miami controlled the football for much of the game thanks to the rushing efforts of Ronnie Brown who gained 125 yards on 24 carries and scored 1 TD. After recovering a fumble at the Dolphins 25 on a kickoff late in the third quarter, the Chargers were stopped at the one-yard-line on a 4th-and-goal rushing attempt by LaDainian Tomlinson.

Hall of Fame Members

Nine long-time members of the Dolphins organization have been enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. One other Hall of Famer, running back Thurman Thomas, played just one season in Miami. The Chargers are presented in Canton by seven Hall of Famers who played most, if not all, of their career in San Diego. In addition, four other inductees played for the Chargers albeit briefly.

Records found in the NFL Record Book

No team in NFL history has come close to matching the eight straight seasons that the Dolphins led the league in fewest yards penalized. Miami was the least penalized team in the NFL each season from 1977 to 1984. The next closest in the record book is three consecutive seasons that was achieved by the Washington Redskins (1956-58) and the Boston Patriots (1964-66).

The Chargers high-powered offense of the 1980s allowed them to establish the NFL record for consecutive seasons leading the league in first downs. San Diego led that category four straight times, 1980-83.

Throwback Game

Sept. 7, 1986

Billy Ray Smith
Miami entered the 1986 season opener against the San Diego Chargers with high hopes. The Dolphins previous season came to an abrupt halt with a stunning loss at home to the wild card New England Patriots in the AFC championship game that prevented Miami from reaching the Super Bowl for the second straight season. Meanwhile, the Chargers were looking to improve on its 8-8 season and return to the top of the AFC. 

This game was teased as a shootout between two of the NFL’s most lethal quarterbacks, Dan Marino and Dan Fouts. The quarterbacks did not disappoint as Fouts helped the Chargers rack up 500 yards of offense in the 50-28 win. He threw for 293 yards and 3 TDs while Marino managed 290 yards and also threw 3 TDs.

But, it was Chargers linebacker Billy Ray Smith that was the difference maker in this game. He anchored the San Diego defense that limited the Dolphins running game to a mere 45 yards and also sacked Marino four times. Smith had 2 of those sacks, and also forced a pair of fumbles, collected 11 tackles, and had two passes defensed. For his efforts, he was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week.

Miami 0 14 7 7 - 28
San Diego 17 9 14 10 - 50
A – 57,726
SD – Anderson 18 pass from Fouts (Benirschke kick)
SD – FG Benirschke 26
SD – Spencer 17 run (Benirschke kick)
MIA – Clayton 22 pass from Marino (Reveiz kick)
SD – McGee 4 run (kick blocked)
MIA – Clayton 49 pass from Marino (Reveiz kick)
SD – FG Benirschke 36
SD – Chandler 7 pass from Fouts (Benirschke kick)
MIA – N. Moore 6 pass from Marino (Reveiz kick)
SD – Holohan 17 pass from Fouts (Benirschke kick)
SD – McGee 4 run (Benirschke kick)
SD – FG Benirschke 36
MIA – N. Moore 17 pass from Strock (Reveiz kick)

Game Program Cover
| Official Gamebook (PDF)

More Dolphins & Chargers on

Team histories

Miami | San Diego

Chargers running backs
1972 Dolphins
Dolphins Hall of Famers
Chargers Hall of Famers

Dan Marino’s record ball
Dan Fouts throws for 4,000 yards
Tomlinson’s shoes and gloves
Jason Taylor’s uniform

Some other stories on Dolphins and Chargers
“Air Coryell” – a look at one of NFL’ most potent offenses of all-time
 1981 playoff classic
Miami’s perfect season
NFL’s first 1,000-yard duo – Csonka and Morris
Fouts: First QB with multiple 4,000-yard seasons 


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