Cameron Wake’s four-sack explosion against Tennessee last week was all the more stunning because it came out of absolutely nowhere. The Miami Dolphins had one only one sack total in the season’s first four games.
That 38-10 win over the Titans was packed with big plays of all kinds, of course, including an interception return for a touchdown in which Reshad Jones vaulted himself across the goal line in the kind of high-flying acrobatic move one expects from an actual dolphin.
When it comes to most impactful sack attack, however, my mind always goes to the first game I covered as the Palm Beach Post’s Dolphin beat writer in 1983. Miami was at Buffalo that day and hadn’t made the transition from David Woodley to rookie Dan Marino just yet.
The game turned into a real sumo match with every first down coming as something of a surprise. Consequently, each of the four sacks recorded by Doug Betters were enormous, just as the red-bearded Betters, 6-feet-7 and 262 pounds, was enormous.
Woodley completed 8-of-22 passes for 40 yards, with a long of 8 yards. The Dolphins managed just 177 yards in total offense and Reggie Roby punted seven times.
Still, Miami won 12-0, on four Uwe von Schamann field goals, and a team total of six sacks on Buffalo’s Joe Ferguson.
Betters finished the season tied for third in the league behind Mark Gastineau and Fred Dean with 16 sacks. That spectacular season opener in Buffalo, however, was enough to vault him toward the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award.
The NFL didn’t count sacks until 1982, which makes some of the Dolphins franchise records in this category unofficial, but they’re fun to look at anyway.
MIAMI DOLPHINS SACK RECORDS
Bill Stanfill 18.5 (1973)
Jason Taylor 18.5 (2002)
Joey Porter 17.5 (2008)
Trace Armstrong 16.5 (2000)
Doug Betters 16 (1983)
Bill Stanfill 5 (1973 vs. Jets)
Vern Den Herder 5 (1973 vs. Bills)
Bill Stanfill 5 (1974 vs. Bills)
Cam Wake 4.5 (2012 vs. Cardinals)
Cam Wake 4 (2014 vs. Titans)
Vern Den Herder 4 (1974 vs. Bills)
Vern Den Herder 4 (1979 vs. Colts)
Doug Betters 4 (1983 vs. Bills)
E.J. Junior 4 (1991 vs. Patriots)
Joey Porter 4 (2008 vs. Patriots)