Combining the countdown to the start of the Dolphins regular season with the best plays in franchise history
To help count down the days to the start of the Miami Dolphins regular season last year, we marked each day with the corresponding jersey number and came up with the three best players to wear that number.
This year, we’re counting down to the start of the regular season with a countdown of the top 100 plays in Dolphins history.
Given that the Dolphins have played 849 regular season games and 41 more in the playoffs, it’s an awfully difficult task to narrow things down to 100 plays and then rank them. The plays selected were ranked on the basis of difficult, immediate and long-lasting impact and historical significance.
The countdown initially appeared in Dolphin Digest in 2019 but has been updated.
We continue with No. 71:
No. 71: Bob Griese’s 86-yard TD pass to Paul Warfield vs. Pittsburgh in 1971
Setting the stage: Coming off the first playoff appearance in team history, the Dolphins were an emerging power in 1971 and they took a 6-1-1 record into a November game against the not-quite-there-yet Steelers at the Orange Bowl. The Steelers were 4-4 on the season, but had a 21-3 lead in the second quarter before Bob Griese and Paul Warfield went to work. Warfield caught only three passes that day, but all of them went for touchdowns — of 12, 86 and 60 yards — as Miami rallied for a 24-21 victory.
The play: The Dolphins of the 1970s were known as a running team, but it may surprise some (many?) that they decided to air it out with 1:48 left in the first half from their own 14-yard line trailing 21-10. But that’s just what they did, Griese connected with Warfield around the Pittsburgh 30 and the future Hall of Famer wide receiver took it home for the 86-yard touchdown, which remains to this day the longest pass play in Dolphins history.
Alain Poupart has covered the Miami Dolphins on a full-time basis since 1989. You can follow him on Twitter at @PoupartNFL. Feel free to submit questions every Friday for the All Dolphins mailbag.