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As is the case with most expansion franchises, times were tough early on for the Miami Dolphins.
On this day 55 years ago however, Miami finally broke through. The Dolphins picked up the first victory in franchise history with a 24-7 rout of the Denver Broncos.
Setting the Stage
In their first year as a franchise, the Miami Dolphins were 0-5 when they arrived at the Orange Bowl on Oct. 16, 1966. It was Miami’s first home game in a month. The Dolphins were coming off three straight road losses by an average margin of more than 26 points.
The Denver Broncos weren’t much better. Denver was just 1-4 and had just been blown out by the Kansas City Chiefs, 37-10.
The game itself was hardly a thing of beauty. The Dolphins and Broncos combined for 10 turnovers and just 335 yards.
Miami however, started strong. Quarterback George Wilson, who had the same name as the head coach, connected with Billy Joe for a 67-yard touchdown to get the scoring started. The Dolphins extended their lead to 10-0 on Gene Mingo’s 35-yard field goal.
Before the first quarter was over however, the Broncos drew to within three. Abner Haynes scored from five yards out to cut the lead to 10-7.
In the second half, Joe Auer scored on touchdown runs of one and three yards to turn the contest into a rout. The Miami defense held Denver to 118 total yards and forced six turnovers. Dick Westmoreland had two interceptions for a Miami defense that picked off Denver quarterback John McCormick four times.
Wilson passed for 176 yards in the victory.
Denver would go on to finish just 4-10 during the 1966 season. The Broncos got revenge when the teams met in Denver later in the year with a 17-7 win.
The Dolphins would win just three games during their inaugural season, but within a decade, they had made three Super Bowl appearances and won two. That included the only perfect season in NFL history in 1972. For all the franchise’s past and future success, it had to start somewhere. The first win came on this day 55 years ago.