Top 5 Buffalo Bills-Miami Dolphins games of all-time

When the Bills and Dolphins play on Thursday Night Football -- airing exclusively on NFL Network with coverage starting at 8 p.m. ET -- it'll be the 102nd meeting in a long-running rivalry filled with drama and hostility.

There's a lot on the line this time, as Gregg Rosenthal has done a good job of outlining; but it's nothing compared to what's been in the balance when these teams have met in the past.

Here are the five most memorable Bills-Dolphins matchups of all-time:

5. Dan Marino's first career start (Oct. 9, 1983)

Bills 38, Dolphins 35 (OT)

The Bills and Dolphins' rivalry peaked with Jim Kelly and Dan Marino, so it's only fitting Marino's first career start came against the Bills in Week 6 of his rookie season.

The floppy-haired phenom took over for David Woodley and set in motion a leapfrogging of scoring that didn't end until Joe Danelo kicked an overtime field goal that won it for the Bills.

Marino and long-time Buffalo quarterback Joe Ferguson combined for eight passing touchdowns, setting the tone for future showdowns between Marino and Kelly.

Interestingly, Marino was just 13-17 in his career against the Bills, making them the only team he played more than five times and had a losing record against.

4. The game that nearly ended the undefeated season (Oct. 22, 1972)

Dolphins 24, Bills 23

In 1972, Don Shula and the Dolphins delivered the NFL's only undefeated season, but the Bills nearly put an end to it in Week 6.

Buffalo countered Miami's "perfect backfield" of Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris with O.J. Simpson and a defense that forced four turnovers. The game seesawed back and forth with neither team gaining more than an eight-point advantage, which, in the end, was too much for the Bills to overcome.

A late fourth-quarter Jim Braxton touchdown catch closed the lead to one point, and that's how it stayed. Had two-point conversions been in play then, Morris and Co. might have ultimately popped a lot less champagne.

3. The Jim Kelly scramble game (Sept. 10, 1989)

Bills 27, Dolphins 24

Of all the achievements Jim Kelly had in his career, this was the one he pulled off with his legs.

With the Bills down four in the '89 season opener, and with no timeouts on the board, Kelly raced Buffalo down to the 4-yard line. A Dolphins penalty halved that yardage, setting up Kelly for a touchdown run that ranks next to Peyton Manning on the unexpected scale as time expired.

Having surrendered a pick to Nate Odomes to set up the drive, Marino was helpless to look on from the sideline. The loss would ultimately keep the Dolphins out of the playoffs.

Kelly would go on to 1,049 career rushing yards. In other words, a season's worth of production from vintage Michael Vick.

2. The Doug Flutie nightmare game (Jan. 2, 1999)

Dolphins 24, Bills 17

A decade-plus amount of intensity was hashed out between the Bills and Dolphins in this wild-card playoff game.

The Dolphins entered hell-bent on rattling 5-foot-10 Bills sensation Doug Flutie, and it worked. Miami racked up five turnovers, including a Flutie fumble at the Dolphins 5-yard line on what could have been a game-tying drive.

Bills receiver Andre Reed was ejected for bumping a ref after a controversial call at the 1-yard line. Meanwhile, his counterpart Eric Moulds set a playoff record with 240 yards receiving in the loss. A late-career Marino contributed a solid, if not flashy, stat line of 23-of-34, 235 yards passing, 1 TD and 1 INT.

After the game, the Dolphins celebrated by stomping a box of Flutie Flakes into oblivion in a locker-room celebration that may or may not have been contrived by motivational super-genius Jimmy Johnson.

1. The one that mattered most (AFC Championship Game - Jan. 17, 1993)

Bills 29, Dolphins 10

This wasn't the closest game in the Bills-Dolphins rivalry. It was the one with the most on the line, though: A trip to Pasadena to play the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XXVII.

Marino was near the height of his powers, having recorded his fifth career 4,000-yard passing season and reached a popularity of such heights that he had to escape a regular-season Bills-Dolphins game in an Atlas moving truck, and the Dolphins held both a home-field advantage and a health advantage (Jim Kelly had missed the playoffs to that point with a knee injury), inspiring signature trash talk from Bryan Cox.

The Bills rallied, though, behind a hard-hitting defense that forced four fumbles and recovered three, and behind Thurman Thomas, who had 166 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown, putting to bed a potential Dolphins championship run.

That was the closest Marino would get to another Super Bowl appearance, though he did get revenge on the Bills in the wild-card portion of the '99 playoffs (see above).

The Bills went on to get shellacked by the Cowboys 52-17 in a game memorable only (at least from their vantage point) for a classic Leon Lett blunder.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast discusses Dez Bryant's contract situation and eliminates more teams from playoff contention during "Stick a Fork in 'Em." Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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