The Miami Dolphins were a team in transition as they hosted the Oakland Raiders on October 3, 1970. A losing franchise since entering the American Football League in 1966, they also had trouble drawing fans and owner Joe Robbie had taken the big step of luring Don Shula away from the Colts to be head coach. Another move that significantly benefited the offense was the acquisition of WR Paul Warfield (pictured above) from the Browns. Added to a mix that included rising young players in QB Bob Griese, FB Larry Csonka, and HB Jim Kiick, Warfield brought a much-needed element of speed to the wide receiver position. However, the Dolphins were also starting five rookies on defense. Miami was 1-1 coming into the game against Oakland, a team it had never beaten.
The Raiders, under second-year Head Coach John Madden, were perennial contenders that had reached the last three AFL title games, winning one of them. However, they were off to a slow start, sporting a record of 0-1-1 as they faced the Dolphins. The offense, directed by QB Daryle Lamonica, was still proficient but the defense was giving up points.
There was a good crowd of 57,140 in attendance for the Saturday night game at the Orange Bowl. The first quarter was scoreless as the teams traded punts and Miami CB Curtis Johnson intercepted a Lamonica pass at his 28 yard line. However, on the first play of the second quarter Bob Griese threw to Paul Warfield for a 49-yard touchdown. Garo Yepremian added the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
A torrential downpour struck soon thereafter that flooded the field but finally let up at halftime. Lamonica again threw an interception, this time by SS Dick Anderson, giving the Dolphins possession at the Oakland 33. But three plays later, Griese was picked off by CB Willie Brown.
HB Charlie Smith immediately took off for a 16-yard gain and the Raiders kept the ball on the ground as Smith and FB Hewritt Dixon ran the ball effectively in the rain. The drive stalled at the Miami 35, but George Blanda’s field goal attempt was blocked by CB Lloyd Mumphord.
Following the blocked kick, the Dolphins took over in Oakland territory and a short possession yielded a missed 49-yard field goal try by Yepremian. Another pass by Lamonica was intercepted, this time by Mumphord, however Miami was unable to move the ball and punted. WR Rod Sherman returned the kick 45 yards to the Dolphins’ 37 and the Raiders made good use of the field position. They went 32 yards in seven plays and Blanda kicked a 12-yard field goal with 27 seconds left in the half. There was still time remaining and the first half ended with Yepremian booting a 47-yard field goal. Miami took a 10-3 lead into the intermission.
The Dolphins had to punt following their first series of the third quarter and Oakland proceeded to go 64 yards in 13 plays. They got a break when rookie TE Raymond Chester, having caught a pass from Lamonica on third down, fumbled but WR Warren Wells recovered and reached the Miami 38. Again Smith and Dixon ran the ball well and Wells gained 14 yards on a reverse. Blanda capped the series with a 17-yard field goal to narrow Miami’s margin to 10-6.
Following a punt by the Raiders early in the fourth quarter, the Dolphins took over at their 20. On a second-and-10 play, Griese connected with Warfield for a 54-yard gain to the Oakland 24. Three plays later, Griese passed to Warfield again for a 17-yard touchdown and, with the successful PAT, a 17-6 lead.
Oakland’s next possession ended with another Lamonica interception and, following a punt by the Dolphins, the Raiders gambled on a fourth-and-one play at their own 35 and Lamonica was stopped for no gain.
The Dolphins extended their lead with a 40-yard Yepremian field goal. FB Marv Hubbard returned the ensuing kickoff 25 yards to the Oakland 49 and, with just over two minutes remaining, Lamonica went to the air three times, the third for a 36-yard touchdown to Wells against Miami’s prevent defense. Blanda’s extra point made it a seven-point game, but the onside kick was recovered by the Dolphins and Miami was able to run out the clock for a 20-13 win.
The Raiders led in total yards (334 to 279) and first downs (14 to 7). They outrushed the Dolphins by 180 yards to 104. However, Oakland also turned the ball over four times, to one suffered by Miami, although the Dolphins drew 11 penalties at a cost of 135 yards, to 6 flags thrown on the Raiders.
Bob Griese completed just 8 of 16 passes for 180 yards, but two were for touchdowns while one was intercepted. Paul Warfield had three catches for 120 yards and both TDs. Larry Csonka led the running game with 62 yards on 10 carries and Jim Kiick ran the ball 20 times for 44 yards and added 34 yards on two pass receptions.
For the Raiders, Daryle Lamonica was successful on 12 of 22 throws for 154 yards and a TD but also tossed four interceptions. Charlie Smith gained 68 yards on 15 rushing attempts and Hewritt Dixon was right behind with 67 yards on 14 carries. Warren Wells (pictured at left) had three catches for 61 yards and a TD and also ran the ball three times for another 34 yards. Fred Biletnikoff also caught the ball three times, for 36 yards.
The Dolphins won their next two contests before losing three straight, but then regained their footing and were victorious in their remaining games to finish at 10-4. It was good enough to place second in the AFC East and qualify as the Wild Card team in the playoffs. Oakland recovered to go 6-0-1 in its next seven games and 8-4-2 overall, which placed them first in the AFC West. The Raiders got their revenge on the Dolphins in the AFC Divisional playoff round, winning 21-14, but lost the AFC Championship game to the Colts.
Paul Warfield missed three games due to injury but received Pro Bowl recognition as he averaged a spectacular 25.1 yards-per-catch on 28 receptions for 703 yards with six touchdowns. Bob Griese also was a Pro Bowl selection, completing 58 percent of his passes for 2019 yards and 12 TDs, although with 17 interceptions.