MIAMI, FLORIDA — Dolphins fans in Hard Rock Stadium erupted in cheers when the jumbotron showed the Buffalo Bills held a double-digit lead over the New England Patriots late in the fourth quarter on Sunday. In order to make the playoffs, the Dolphins needed their win over the New York Jets paired with a Patriots loss. Both happened and Miami became the third team in the state to secure a playoff berth.
A LOOK BACK: 23 YEARS AGO
The last and only time all three NFL teams in Florida made the NFL playoffs was more than two decades ago – in 1999. Earlier that year, Lance Armstrong won his first Tour de France, music sharing service Napster launched and iconic TV shows The Sopranos, SpongeBob SquarePants and Family Guy made their debuts. President Bill Clinton survived his impeachment trial and Jeb Bush was in his first year as Florida’s governor.
Back then, Jimmy Johnson (Dolphins), Tom Coughlin (Jaguars) and Tony Dungy (Buccaneers) were the teams’ head coaches. Dan Marino (Dolphins), Mark Brunnell (Jaguars) and Trent Dilfer (Buccaneers) were their starting quarterbacks.
The Dolphins and Jaguars have struggled to establish consistent winning football over the past two decades, with a combined five playoff appearances between the two franchises from 2002–2021. The Buccaneers have done better with four playoff appearances during that time, including two Super Bowl victories in 2002 and 2020.
All three teams are underdogs, even though Jacksonville and Tampa Bay won their respective divisions and have higher playoff seeds than their opponents. Each matchup features a repeat of regular season battles.
Back in September, the Jaguars beat the Chargers in Los Angeles while the Bucs lost to the Cowboys in Tampa Bay. The Bucs finished with a losing season despite the return of star quarterback Tom Brady.
Miami will travel to Buffalo, where they lost a close game against the Bills last month. The Dolphins won the rivals’ Week 3 nail-biter in Miami, but the status of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa remains up in the air. Tagovailoa has missed six games this season, including the last two, due to concussions.