25-Year Phiniversary: The Shula Bowl

The first meeting between father and son head coaches in the NFL happened 25 years ago today.
Miami Dolphins head coach Don Shula, left, meets with his son, Cincinnati Bengals head coach Dave Shula, (AP Photo/David Kohl)

In five years as a head coach with the Cincinnati Bengals, Dave Shula never made the name for himself that his legendary father, Don, did. What the younger Shula’s tenure did not lack was a historical first.

On this day 25 years ago, Don and Dave Shula became the first father-son head coaching duo to face one another in the NFL. The teams met on the evening of Oct. 2, 1994 at Riverfront Stadium. When all was said and done, father still knew best as Don Shula’s Miami Dolphins topped the Bengals, 23-7.

Playing inspired for their head coach, the Bengals actually drew first blood in the contest and quickly. Just 92 seconds in, Cincinnati led 7-0 on a 51-yard scoring strike from David Klingler to Darnay Scott. Unfortunately for the Bengals, that would account for all of their points that evening.

After a Pete Stoyanovich field goal put Miami on the board early in the second quarter, the Dolphins went ahead for good with just over a minute remaining in the first half as Dan Marino would find fullback Keith Byars for an 11-yard touchdown. Up 10-7 at the break, the Dolphins extended their lead in the third quarter with another Marino touchdown pass — this one four yards to Mark Ingram.

Stoyanovich would add field goals of 27 and 32 yards in the fourth quarter to cap the scoring as Miami improved to 4-1. With the loss, the Bengals fell to 0-5.

Marino finished the night with 204 yards passing, the two touchdowns and no interceptions, but it was the Miami defense that stole the show. The Dolphins held the Bengals to just 246 total yards and intercepted Klingler three times. Aubrey Beavers, Tyrone Braxton and J.B. Brown all had picks while the Dolphins also recovered a pair of Cincinnati fumbles in the win.

The Dolphins finished with 141 yards rushing, led by Bernie Parmalee’s 73. Miami wide receiver Irving Fryar led all players in yards from scrimmage with eight catches for 89 yards.

Cincinnati would finish the season just 3-13 while Miami went 10-6 and won the AFC East. The two Shula men would meet again the following season — Don Shula’s last — in a more competitive game, but the Dolphins prevailed late, 26-23. The first ever meeting between a father and son as head coaches came on this day a quarter century ago.

Mike Ferguson is a contributor for The Grueling Truth, covering Florida sports and sports history. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. To keep up with all of his work, like his Facebook page.

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