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51 for LI: The Star Rises at Super Bowl VI

[lead align=”default”]Less than a week to go until Super Bowl LI between the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots. With the countdown at six days, we revisit the events leading up to Super Bowl VI.[/lead]

45 years ago this month, the Dallas Cowboys met the Miami Dolphins in the National Football League’s championship. Both made the playoffs in 2016, though neither made it out of their first game. Their 1971-72 editions went all the way to the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl VI: 1971 Dallas Cowboys

Since the foundation of the Dallas Cowboys in 1960, they made a number of playoff appearances. Their formative years were difficult, but beginning in 1966, Dallas contended for championships. Unfortunately for them, they didn’t win any. The Cowboys lost the NFL Championship to Green Bay in 1966 and 1967, and then after winning the NFC, lost to Baltimore in Super Bowl V (as you will see tomorrow).

Entering 1971, the Cowboys had won their division five years in a row, and with no titles to show for them. That regular season made it six, with Dallas going 11-3 and claiming the NFC East. Dallas’s offense blew away the competition with 406 points scored, which was the best in the NFL. This Cowboys team also had several future Super Bowl head coaches on their roster: Mike Ditka, Forrest Gregg, and Dan Reeves.

The Cowboys defeated the Vikings and 49ers to get to the Super Bowl. On the mind was silencing their critics who said they couldn’t win the big game.

Super Bowl VI: 1971 Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins would win a division crown for the first time in 1971, thanks to a 10-3-1 record. Following a 1-1-1 start to the season, the Fins ripped off eight wins in a row to help ice the division. That tie ended up being the difference-maker, with Miami edging the 10-4 Baltimore Colts for the AFC East crown. Since ties didn’t count then, Miami was officially 10-3, giving them a half-game victory.

Miami had a close call in a double-overtime victory against Kansas City in the first round. They then shut out the Colts to get to their first Super Bowl, with their “No-Name Defense” coming up big.

Ultimately, losing this game fueled a fire in Miami so hot that they did not lose a game the entirety of the following season. The Dolphins claimed Super Bowls VII and VIII, and wouldn’t lose again in calendar year 1972.

Super Bowl VI: The Game

This seems like it’s almost out of a sitcom, but prior to the game, President Richard Nixon called Don Shula to give him advice. As in, he suggested a particular play that the Dolphins should run in the Super Bowl. It’s good to be the president.

The game itself was a snooze. Dallas jumped out to a 3-0 late in the first quarter, and that expanded to 10-3 near halftime on a Roger Staubach touchdown pass. Miami received the ensuing kickoff and drove with Bob Griese 44 yards into Dallas territory. They notched a field goal with four seconds left to make it a 10-3 game at the half.

The Dolphins were in big trouble in the third, as Dallas’s opening drive ended on a Duane Thomas touchdown run. Down 17-3 and struggling to move the football, Miami was eventually put to bed on a Mike Ditka touchdown catch early in the fourth. The final: Dallas 24, Miami 3.

Dallas, once criticized for their inability to win the big game, finally bagged the trophy.

Super Bowl VI: Highlights

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