Everyone was calling that lifeless 41-14 loss to Buffalo the worst home opener in Miami Dolphins history and it was easy enough to play along, since at the moment it felt like just about the worst anything anywhere.
Took a later look, though, to confirm. Not only is it true, but there’s nothing even close to this 27-point deficit.
Second on the lopsided list comes a 37-20 loss to Dallas in 2007, Cam Cameron’s one and only season as Miami coach. A big difference is that the Cowboys didn’t put that game away until the fourth quarter. Sunday’s slide, of course, was immediate, with the Bills up 27-0 at halftime.
Hey, wait a minute, tied for third-lousiest home opener is a 14-point loss to New England in 2011, Tony Sparano’s last season running the Dolphins. Just coincidence, right, when it comes to Joe Philbin?
There’s nothing more damaging than treating hopeful fans this way. It’s like inviting everybody over for a housewarming party and sending them all home with food poisoning. Makes you never want to come back again. Makes you feel like a boob for buying a season ticket for a season that’s already shot in September.
One game doesn’t have to mean everything, of course. In 1995 the Dolphins mauled the Jets 52-14 in the home opener, giving birth to Super Bowl dreams, but by year’s end Don Shula was out. Can’t get any more drastic than that when it comes to turnarounds.
Here are a few more stinkers in South Florida pro sports history. Sorry that so many of you were there to experience them in person.
The Miami Heat won their first NBA title in 2006 and planned a spectacular ring-presentation ceremony to open the following season. Trouble is, the Chicago Bulls were not in the mood to participate in the fun. Miami lost 108-66, got outrebounded by 20 and had just one player, Dwyane Wade, who scored in double figures.
If it had been an exhibition, both teams would have agreed to stop after three quarters, to avoid both injuries and further humiliation.
Naturally, a fan can shake something like that off in the wake of a championship run. What happened at the inaugural opening night at Marlins Park, on the other hand, was merely the first unforgivable sin in a 2012 season that featured manager Ozzie Guillen getting in trouble for saying he admired Fidel Castro and ended with 93 losses.
Here are the lowlights of the first regular-season game at Marlins Park, attended by a sellout crowd of 36,601. St. Louis went up 3-0 in a heartbeat. The Marlins didn’t have a baserunner until the fourth inning, when a hit batsman got erased in a double play. They didn’t have a hit until the seventh and they didn’t have a run until the eighth. Final, St. Louis 4-1, but it felt like 400-1.
Maybe the worst is over for the Dolphins, at least in terms of blowouts. To be fair, the Bills would only have won this game by 26 points if only Andrew Franks hadn’t missed an extra point.
Because of the quirk of the London trip, however, it’s going to be a while before Miami gets another chance to make it up to the home crowd directly. The next game at Sun Life Stadium is a month away, Oct. 25, against the Houston Texans.
Strange to think that this stuff used to be so automatic. The Dolphins won 13 home openers in a row between 1976 and 1988.
Back then the team was pretty shiny and the stadium drab, not the other way around.