1972 Miami Dolphins
Any debate about the greatest NFL team has to begin with the 1972 Miami Dolphins (17-0). The only team in the Superbowl era to go undefeated. The 1972 season was only the seventh season for the Dolphins.
The team was led by coach Don Shula and players Bob Griese, Earl Morrall, and Larry Csonka. Shula is the most winningest coach in NFL history and is best known for his 26 seasons as the Dolphins head coach.
In 1993 he was named Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated, and he only had two losing seasons in his 33-year career as a head coach. He also led his teams to six Super Bowl appearances.The Dolphins came into the 1972 season with high expectations even though the path to victory wasn’t smooth and most wins were decided in the fourth quarter.
The 1972 Miami Dolphins opened up their first game of the season against the Chiefs at the grand opening of Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. The dolphins took care of Kansas city with ease beating them 20-10. The Chiefs scored their only touchdown with 9 seconds remaining.
Larry Csonka led the game with 118 rushing yards and a touchdown. Miami’s second was much like the first as they dominated the Houston Oilers 34-13.
In week 3, the Dolphins took on the Vikings and had their first close call of the season. The Dolphins were down 14-6 in the fourth quarter when kicker Garo Yepremian hit a 51-yard field goal to make it 14-9.The Dolphins defense, known as “the no-name defense,” was able to get the Vikings off the field, allowing the offense to drive down the field and score. Gries through a touchdown pass to tight end Jim Mandich with 1:28 left in the game.
After this game, the 1972 Miami Dolphins became the only undefeated team in the league. In weeks 4 and 5, Miami pulled off simple victories against the Jets and then the Chargers. The win against the Charges came at a cost.
1972 Miami Dolphins: Earl Morrall
Quarterback Bob Griese suffered a fractured leg and a dislocated ankle after getting sacked. Earl Morrall replaced him before returning to the field for the AFC championship. Morrall played his first complete game against the Bears and relied heavily on the run game since he only threw for 90 yards.
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The 1972 Miami Dolphins were cruising in weeks 6 through 10. They had two shutouts and outscored their opponents 105 to 16 in their first 3 games. In week 10 the dolphins found themselves behind the Jets 24-20 as the fourth quarter began.
Mercury Morris rushed for 107 yards in the game and scored on a 14-yard touchdown using all the power he could to find the endzone to put the Dolphins up and eventually clinch the AFC East title.
The Dolphins went on the finish their final four games in the regular season in a superior fashion. They beat the Cardinals 31-10, the Patriots 37-21, the Giants 23-13, and lastly, the Ravens 16-0.
In the divisional playoffs, Miami took on the Cleveland Browns and was able to get past them thanks to wide receiver Paul Warfield’s help. He had 80 total yards in the game, with 60 of those 80 coming from the winning drive.
The 1972 Miami Dolphins took on the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game. They were able to defeat the Steelers 21-17 by taking advantage of the defense’s mistakes, and Bob Griese returned. They took their undefeated record to the Super Bowl against the Redskins.
The Redskins came into the game as a three-point favorite, surprisingly. Quickly into the game, the Dolphins went up 14-0 and seemed to be on their way to their last victory of the season.
Then one of the oddest plays in Super Bowl History happened. Kicker Yepremian’s field goal was blocked, and instead of falling on the ball, he decided to pass it. The ball ended up in Redskins cornerback Mike Bass who ran the ball back for 49 yards and a touchdown.
Thankfully for Yepremian, the Dolphins were able to hold off the Redskins until the end, winning 14-7. To this day, the 1972 Fins are undoubtedly the greatest team to ever play in the NFL.