#11 Jim Jensen was the first do it all player that I remember in the NFL. He was a quarterback, but with Dan Marino there, he became the do it all HB/WR/TE...in other words, the first true FLEX player. Tim Tebow has nothing on Jensen.
MIA (23) @ CLE (10)
MIA (24) @ IND (20)
ATL (23) @ MIA (27)
MIA (17) @ NO (38)
BAL (26) @ MIA (23)
BUF (23) @ MIA (21)
MIA (17) @ NE (27)
CIN (20) @ MIA (22)
MIA (19) @ TB (22)
SD (16) @ MIA (20)
CAR (20) @ MIA (16)
MIA (23) @ NYJ (3)
In 1972 the Miami Dolphins became, and remain, the only team in the Super Bowl era to achieve perfection in a season, including the playoffs, when they went 17-0. The circumstances that surrounded the team that year made the accomplishment that much more impressive. Though the Dolphins achieved perfection, when there is talk of the greatest teams of all time the 1972 Dolphins are rarely mentioned. Let’s take a look at look at their credentials.
In 1971 the Dolphins, during their 6th season of existence and the 2nd year under Coach Don Shula, finished the regular season with a 10-3-1 record and made their first appearance in the Super Bowl. They would lose Super Bowl VI, 24-3, at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys. The expectations for the Dolphins the following year were higher with the Super Bowl appearance, but no one was sure how this team would bounce back. As the season began, it looked great for the Dolphins, until week 5.
In week 5 the Dolphins lost Bob Griese, their starting quarterback, to a broken leg. The Dolphins were forced to rely on journeyman 38 year old quarterback Earl Morrall, who was with Shula in Baltimore. Morrall was the perfect game manager and allowed the three headed running attack of Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick and Mercury Morris to handle most of the workload. The Dolphins also relied on their “No-Name” defense to hold opponents in check. The Dolphins coasted through the season with one close game against the Jets where they prevailed 28-24. When the season was over the Dolphins were 14-0, but still had to deal with the playoffs.
In the Playoffs they drew the Cleveland Browns in the first round and found themselves in a tough game, that they ended up winning 20-14. The next week for the AFC Championship game the Dolphins actually had to go on the road and play the Pittsburgh Steelers. The following year the NFL made a rule change that the team with the best record would earn home field advantage. In the Championship game the Dolphins were trailing and then the hero, Bob Griese, returned (his first appearance since his injury in week 5) to lead the Dolphins from behind to win 21-17.
The Dolphins faced the Washington Redskins in the Super Bowl and ended up winning 14-7, despite one of the worst plays in Super Bowl history made by kicker Garo Yepremian. If you have not seen the play you can find it online or in any of the early NFL follies videos. The Dolphins finished the season 17-0 and as NFL Champions, yet this team gets overlooked as one of the greatest of all time.
The schedule that the Dolphins faced is seen as weak by many. They overall winning percentage of their opponents was .397 and they only faced 2 teams with winning records. They were led by a journeyman quarterback in Morrall and they did not have a lot of flash, which is why I believe they are bypassed. The fact remains that the 1972 Dolphins have 6 players inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Nick Buoniconti, Larry Csonka, Bob Griese, Jim Langer, Larry Little and Paul Warfield. The final argument for the Dolphins should come from one of their own and I think Larry Csonka made a great argument when he said “Perfection ends a lot of arguments. There may come a time when another team goes undefeated and wins the Super Bowl…when that happens, I know their fans will take as much pride in that accomplishment as Dolphins fans take in the 1972 season.”
When the Dolphins came into existence in 1965 they did not enjoy early success. They had amassed only 15 wins in their first 4 years. The team was looking for a way to improve the team and they made the biggest trade in the history of their franchise.
In 1970 the Miami Dolphins made Don Shula their number one priority. Shula had been successful with the Baltimore Colts, but was not feeling the love in Baltimore after their loss to the Jets in Super Bowl III. The Dolphins gave up their 1st round draft pick in order to get Shula. In his first season with the Dolphins he leads them to a 10-4 record and the teams’ first playoff appearance. They would lose to the Raiders in the playoffs 21-14.
In 1971 Shula and Dolphins again enjoyed regular season success finishing 10-3-1. They were led by Future Hall of Famers Bob Griese and Larry Csonka. The Dolphins would face the Chiefs in the first round of the playoffs. The game was a back and forth game that went into overtime. Both of the teams had chances to win, but the game would go to a second overtime. The game finally ended with a Dolphins victory off the leg of Garo Yepremian for a 37 yard field goal and a 27-24 win. That game is the longest game in NFL history at 82 minutes and 40 seconds. In the AFC Championship game the Dolphins rolled the Colts, Shula’s old team, 21-0 to get to Super Bowl VI.
In Super Bowl VI the Dolphins were outmatched by the Dallas Cowboys and lost 24-3. The Cowboys were in the process of exercising their own demons as they had been hunting the Super Bowl since 1965. The Dolphins now had a real chip on their shoulders heading into 1972.
In 1972 the Dolphins exceeded all expectations as they went undefeated during the regular season with a 14-0 record. Most of this was done without starting QB Bob Griese who broke his leg in week 5. The Dolphins again relied on their running game and “No Name” defense. In the Playoffs the Dolphins faced a tough match up against the Cleveland Browns and were trailing 14-13 in the fourth quarter before Jim Kiick scored a TD with time running out to give the Dolphins the win. The Dolphins then went on to beat the Steelers with Bob Griese coming back to lead them to victory and send them to their 2nd straight Super Bowl. In Super Bowl VII the Dolphins completed their run at perfection and beat the Washington Redskins 14-7, despite the most memorable play being the botched field goal attempt by Garo Yepremian that ended up with Yepremian trying to throw a pass that was intercepted and returned for a TD, but the Dolphins won the game and finished the year 17-0.
The following year the Dolphins continued to show their dominance and Don Shula became a legend in Miami as they went 12-2 in the regular season. That made a mark of 26-2 in the last two years of regular season which was the best 2 year mark in NFL history. The Dolphins rolled the Bengals in their first round match up 34-16. Then they got a chance to face the Raiders, the team that knocked them out of the playoffs 2 years ago and the team that ended their unbeaten streak earlier in the season. The Dolphins attacked the Raiders at the line of scrimmage and amassed 266 yards on the ground en route to a 27-10 ground and pound victory. That win sent them to their 3rd straight Super Bowl.
In Super Bowl VIII the Dolphins faced the Minnesota Vikings. The Dolphins would once again rely on their running game and Hall of Famer Larry Csonka who ran for 145 yards and 2 TD’s in the game. The Dolphins rolled the Vikings 24-7. It was a running display as Griese only threw 7 passes the entire game. The Dolphins had made their mark on the NFL and Don Shula had made a legacy for himself even though he would coach for 20+ more years. The Dolphins never again enjoyed the success of those glory days, but that run with perfection in the middle will never be erased from NFL history.
The 1972 Dolphins are the only team in the Super Bowl era that has achieved perfection. The team does not always get the respect they deserve and part of that may have to do with the perception of the 1972 Dolphins due to their popping the champagne every time the last unbeaten team falls in the NFL.
There are many who believe that all the 72’ Dolphins take part in the ritual, but it started with Dick Anderson and Nick Buoniconti. Anderson has been quoted saying “He (Buoniconti) and I are ones who usually do the champagne.” While that may be the truth there have been 2 key times that we have seen multiple members of the 72’ Dolphins popping the champagne.
The first was in 1985 when the 12-0 Bears came to the Orange Bowl in Miami and many of the 72’ Dolphins came to be on the sidelines for this game. The Bears were the biggest threat to matching their season of perfection and they helped Dan Marino and Dolphins give the Bears their only loss on the season. Then there was 2007 Patriots who were undefeated heading into the Super Bowl. The 72’ Dolphins got a lot of coverage on ESPN and they seemed worried about the Patriots taking away their place in history.
There were many of the 72’ Dolphins, including Earl Morrall who were in attendance at the game and were clearly rooting for the Giants. When the game ended the 72’ Dolphins popped the champagne and celebrated still being the only unbeaten team in NFL history. While they may not get many fans around the league for their behavior and are left off lists of the greatest teams of all times, they still have perfection and no one can take that away.
Paul Warfield was a an amazing receiver during his 13 year career in which he played with the Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins. When Warfield was traded to the Dolphins for their first round pick in 1970, 3rd overall (which became Mike Phipps for the Browns), it was the final piece to the puzzle for the Miami Dolphins. The Browns and their fans wish they never heard of Mike Phipps.
Paul Warfield was arguably the best wide receiver in the league at the time. The Dolphins had a power running attack with Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick and Mercury Morris, but what they lacked was the downfield threat which Warfield supplied. The thing about Paul Warfield is that when you think of the game today and the wide open passing attack and looking at his numbers might make you think he was not that great, but you would be wrong.
Yes it is true that Warfield best year receiving was his first with 52 receptions, and the most yards he ever had in a season was 1,067 in 1968, and was the only time he ever had more than 1,000 yards. The thing you would be missing is how big of impact he was on the game. He was so hard for defenders to cover that he could beat just about anyone in one-on-one coverage. The game back then did not feature a lot of passing, but Warfield was head and shoulders above the rest.
The thing about Warfield that really showed his value was the yard per catch average he had. Over a 13 year career Warfield had 20.1 yards per catch average. Even in today’s game that number is outstanding. He was used as a deep vertical threat and helped to support the running games that were the foundation of both the Browns and Dolphins. Warfield is a Hall of Famer and very deservedly so. If you are not familiar with him and consider yourself a football fan you need to familiarize yourself with Paul Warfield.
The Dolphins fight song, Miami Dolphins #1, was written by Lee Ofman before the 1972 season. He wrote the music because he wanted to inspire his favorite team and it became a favorite as it came out during the only perfect season in NFL history and on the heels of the Dolphins reaching Super Bowl VI.
The song is infectious and horrible at the same time which is why it is so great. Here are the lyrics to the song.
Miami has the Dolphins
The Greatest Football Team
We take the ball from goal to goal
Like no one's ever seen
We're in the air, we're on the ground
We're always in control
And when you say Miami
You're talking Super Bowl
'Cause we're the
Miami Dolphins Number One
Yes we're the
Then there is the remix that was made by T-Pain. I still think I like the hokey original one better, but here you go.
Garo Yepremian will always be remembered in NFL history for 2 events, one which was a great achievement and the other which is a classic blunder. Yepremian was actually born on the Island of Cyprus and immigrated to the United States with his brother. When they arrived they did not know how they were going to make a living until Garo saw part of a football game on television and told his brother he could kick field goals for a living.
He went out with his brother and practiced kicking field goals and proved that he indeed could do this for a living so they set out to prove this to an NFL team. They really had no idea about the game and only were able to get a tryout with the Detroit Lions. He got a contract and did very well, including a game against the Vikings where he kicked 6 field goals. The best moment of his rookie year though was during his first game. He was told they lost the coin flip so Yepremian ran out to midfield got on his knees and actually started looking for the coin. No doubt this made for some jokes about Cyprus. Then he made another mistake.
Being that he was not from America, and wanting to prove it was not a game for foreigners, other players were looking to take him out. His coach told him after kicking off to run to the bench so as not to get hurt. The first time he did this he ran to the opposing teams’ bench…oops. He also did not wear a facemask. That is until Ray Nitschke laid into him during his 4th game. Another time he was celebrating like crazy after an extra point to which Alex Karras asked him “What the hell are you celebrating?” , and Yepremian replied “I keek a touchdown.” This was panned on the Johnny Carson show.
All that aside, he is most remembered for his time with the Dolphins. He had a great moment in the 1971 playoffs against the Kansas City Chiefs where he kicked a 37 yard field goal to end the game in the 2nd overtime, the longest game ever played in the NFL. This though, is not what he is most remembered for. It was for his play during Super VII, which almost cost his team their perfect season. They were leading the Redskins 14-0 with just over 2 minutes left in the game and Yepremian was about to attempt a field goal that would have essentially ended the game. His attempt was blocked but he was the first person to get to the ball. The smart move would have been to just go down and then the Redskins would have to drive down the field and score twice which would be very difficult. Instead Yepremian tried to throw a pass, this from the guy who had no idea about the rules when he arrived and not known for his arm. As he goes to throw he looks like a little kid who does not know how to throw a ball and the ball goes straight up in the air and then Yepremian bats at the ball and it falls right into the waiting hands of Mike Bass of the Redskins who returns it for a TD. The Dolphins won the game so Yepremian did not have to become Ray Finkle, but this is what he is known for. All I can say as I looked on back on him to write this piece I want to see more of the classic blunders and he has replaced Al Del Greco as my favorite kicker of all time.
Joe Robbie was a lawyer who had a passion to own a professional football team. Joe Robbie was business partners with producer Danny Thomas in 1965 when they acquired the American Football Franchise in Miami for an estimated $7.5 Million. This was not Robbie’s first choice, as he had initially tried to get a franchise in Philadelphia but was turned down and told to consider Miami where there was not current competition for fan support. Robbie’s partner bailed and forced him to raise the money on his own and was able to sway Danny Thomas to fill the void in the investment.
Joe Robbie remained in control of the organization until his death in 1990. Though he was not an innovator in the game he was a great owner for the Dolphins and their stadium is still named in his honor.
Ace Ventura Pet Detective was the first starring role for Jim Carrey. The movie centered on his search for “Snowflake”, the Mascot of the Miami Dolphins, who was stolen during Super Bowl week. This was also the theatrical debut for 10 Miami Dolphins players, most notably Dan Marino and Don Shula. The movie has become a cult classic and has immortalized these players forever.
I am a huge fan of the movie and every other NFL team wishes that they were ones that were chosen to build the movie around. The Dolphins made perfect sense. You have the iconic Coach in Don Shula and the greatest quarterback we had ever seen in Dan Marino. The Dolphins mascot was stolen before the Miami Dolphins were to appear in the Super Bowl. Ace Ventura follows the clues and discovers that Dan Marino is also in danger.
Dan Marino is then kidnapped a day before the Super Bowl, while filming a commercial for Isotoner Gloves, by Ray Finkle. Finkle was a former kicker for the Dolphins, who blamed Marino for a missed kick that cost the Dolphins the Super Bowl. Ace Ventura saves the day and returns Marino in time for the 2nd half. The Dolphins will always have Ace.
41 Days of pure bliss! You really know how to pick 'em Chad.
You are really trying to make us forget it ever happened, believe you me. Is this The Boz 25 years later?
Well done Ryan Tannehill, you win in life.
Just a joke Miami Dolphins fans, you guys are turning the corner, but it's been a rough run. I'm a Cubs fan for crying out loud. //d-Rx®