51 for LI: Sealing Perfection in Super Bowl VII
[lead align=”default”]Super Bowl Sunday is just a week away, and on this seventh day left in the countdown, we remember Super Bowl VII.[/lead]
The game in the year that Mercury Morris still can’t stop bringing up sealed the best season ever for the Miami Dolphins. Arguably, one of the greatest team seasons in NFL history is owned by the 1972 Dolphins. Then again, if 45 years later you still had the only perfect season in the post-merger National Football League, you might be pleased, too.
Super Bowl VII: 1972 Miami Dolphins
Obviously, this team ran the table in the NFL regular season. Following that, only the 2007 New England Patriots would do the same, except Miami was 14-0 and the Pats went 16-0. Miami pitched three shutouts in 1972, but had a few close calls: three games were decided by a touchdown or less. One of those tight victories was against the Minnesota Vikings, a team in its prime that happened to have a mediocre season. Miami more than doubled up its opponents, outscoring them 385 to 171.
The road to Super Bowl VII went through South Florida. In the Divisional Round, Miami posted a close win over Cleveland. To win the AFC Championship, the Dolphins beat Pittsburgh, who got there after the “Immaculate Reception.” It was back-to-back AFC titles for the Dolphins.
Super Bowl VII: 1972 Washington Redskins
The Washington Redskins had the misfortune of being the team that got to lose the Super Bowl to the Dolphins. Theirs was not a perfect season, but it was a good one at 11-3. Washington won the NFC East, edging out the Dallas Cowboys under legendary head coach George Allen. They had made the playoffs the year before, which snapped a postseason drought that extended from 1946 to 1970. Larry Brown, the MVP running back, was a big part of this team’s first Super Bowl run.
The Redskins played the Packers in the first round and won, 16-3. They then drew the Cowboys in the NFC Championship, routing them by a 26-3 score.
Super Bowl VII: The Game
Wouldn’t you believe it, the Redskins were actually a one-point favorite over the undefeated Dolphins? As it turned out, that’s an historical footnote that didn’t matter on gameday.
Only three scores, all touchdowns, occurred in this Super Bowl as part of a defensive struggle. The first was by Miami, after Bob Griese threw a touchdown pass to Howard Twilley at the end of the first quarter.
The second score was just before halftime. Miami, working with a short field after Billy Kilmer threw an interception, set up a Jim Kiick touchdown run from one yard out. At halftime, this was a 14-0 game, and that’s all the help Miami needed.
Washington did not find its way onto the scoreboard until about two minutes remained in the game. “Garo’s Gaffe” famously involved the Dolphins kicker, Garo Yepremian, and a late field goal attempt. The kick was blocked by the Redskins, and then Yepremian picked it up and ran with it. While he looked for Larry Csonka, Yepremian fumbled and batted the ball into the air, and the ‘Skins ran it back for a touchdown.
This ended the shutout, but the Redskins wouldn’t score again. Miami had its perfect season.