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Bucs-Dolphins game won’t be in Miami Sunday, but where and when?

Update 9/6. The league has announced that the Buccaneers and Dolphins will play in Miami during their regularly scheduled bye week and will not play this weekend. This is a similar scenario to when the Dolphins had a first-week bye in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew 25 years ago today.

The original post is below.

With a current state of emergency and impending landfall of a major hurricane forecast for Sunday, the league is pulling the plug on the Buccaneers-Dolphins game on Sunday. Hurricane Irma is currently a Category 5, the strongest level on the Saffir-Simpson scale. 

Pete Morelli and his crew were scheduled to officiate that game.

The league has ruled out moving the game up to Thursday and Friday, likely because of the massive preparedness needed in light of the worst-case forecasts. Under Rule 17-1-7, the league may move a game up if there is enough time and resources, as it did for a preseason game last year. With that option removed, the order of preferred options goes to Rule 17-1-9:

In instances under these emergency procedures which require the Commissioner to reschedule a regular-season game, he will make every effort to set the game for no later than two days after its originally scheduled date, and he will attempt to schedule the game at its original site. If unable to do so, he will schedule it at the nearest available facility. If it is impossible to schedule the game within two days after its original date, the Commissioner will attempt to schedule it on the Tuesday of the next calendar week in which the two involved clubs play other clubs (or each other).

A neutral site is the next option if the game is played on Sunday, as the Bucs obviously would not be able to host the game either. Nashville and Washington are out, since they have home games. Atlanta has a new stadium, and I doubt the league would force the Falcons to have another team christen it. Up the East Coast, Charlotte, N.C.; Baltimore; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; and the New York metro area are without a game this weekend, and, dare I say, the Patriots play on Thursday. New Orleans is another option, however, it is in the vicinity and general direction of the hurricane’s forecast cone.

The last two games to be relocated were played at Detroit’s Ford Field, which will have a game on Sunday.

The league also stated that playing the game at a later date is also an option. Monday is pretty crowded with the kickoff doubleheader. According to the rules, Tuesday would still be within a two-day window, and might make the preferred backup site in Detroit a possibility. Complicating a Tuesday night game would be the Dolphins next road game in Los Angeles against the Chargers. A Tuesday game was called in 2010 due to an incoming blizzard, the first NFL game played on that date since 1946.

As a last resort, the teams might take a Week 1 bye and play 16 consecutive games, as was done with the Patriots and Dolphins in 1992. Neither team is in favor of that option.

NFL rescheduled, relocated, and canceled games, since 1980

Source: So You Think You Know Football?, Football Zebras research. Does not include preseason, games moved within the normal Sunday afternoon slots, or games that were scheduled around conflicts in advance. Shaded rows indicate games that were moved up to an earlier date. *Postseason game.







Incoming hurricane (Irma)

Game postponed to Nov. 19 when both teams were scheduled to have a bye week



Forecasted ice storm

Game moved from 12:05 local time to 7:20 local time (8:20 p.m. Eastern)



State of emergency due to lake-effect snowstorm

Game moved to Monday night at Ford Field in Detroit



Stadium reset after baseball playoff game

Kickoff moved from 4:25 local time to 8:35 local time (11:35 p.m. Eastern)



Incoming blizzard

Kickoff moved from Sunday night to Tuesday night.



Snow collapsed dome roof

Game moved to Monday night at Ford Field in Detroit. 



Game played at TCF Stadium at the Univ. of Minnesota



Stadium damage (Hurricane Ike)

Both teams took a bye week in Week 2, the rescheduled game was played later, also requiring a Titans–Bengals game and the Bengals bye week to be moved



Incoming hurricane (Wilma)

Kickoff was moved up to Friday night

2005 season

NO (8 games)

Stadium and city damage (Hurricane Katrina)

The Saints first home game was moved to Giants Stadium (and remained a Saints home game in the records); the remainder of the home schedule was split between Baton Rouge, La., and San Antonio, Texas



Incoming hurricane (Jeanne)

Kickoff was moved from 1 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. (Eastern time)



Incoming hurricane (Ivan)

Kickoff was moved up to Saturday



Wildfires, stadium used as emergency staging area

Game was moved to Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz.



Potential conflict with baseball playoffs

Game was moved to Oct. 7, when both teams had a bye. In the end, the Oakland A’s did not have a playoff game that day.


All NFL teams

Terrorist attacks of Sept. 11

Week 2 games were moved to the end of the schedule; playoff games and the Super Bowl all pushed back one week



Conflict with Game 7 of World Series

Game moved to Monday night



Hurricane cleanup (Andrew)

Game postponed to Oct. 18 when both teams were scheduled to have a bye week



Conflict with baseball playoffs

Teams swapped dates of their home games



Stadium damage (Loma Prieta earthquake)

Game moved to Stanford Stadium at Stanford Univ.



Conflict with baseball playoffs

Teams swapped dates of their home games



Conflict with Game 7 of World Series

Game moved to Monday night


All NFL teams

NFL players’ strike

Week 3 games were cancelled


All NFL teams

NFL players’ strike

Several weeks canceled, schedule and playoff format modified, postseason games (except Super Bowl) moved out 1 week

Updated to add HOUO-CIN 1990 and to correct the time shift on PIT-MIA 2004.

Ben Austro
Ben Austro is the editor and founder of Football Zebras and the author of So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules (on sale now)

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