By: Randy Campbell (Old Dolfan)


Game 1:  Sept. 17, 1972 – Miami at Kansas City

2012 marks the 40th Anniversary of the greatest achievement by any team in the storied history of the National Football League. In 1972 the Miami Dolphins did what no other team had ever done before AND what no other team has ever done since.  They ran the table.  They were perfect.  They were 17 and 0.

The Perfect Season had its roots in the 1971 campaign. Young head coach Don Shula had guided the Dolphins into the playoffs.  Then, on Christmas Day 1971, the underdog Dolphins visited the Kansas City Chiefs in what would be the last football game ever played at Municipal Stadium (the former home of the Kansas City Athletics baseball team).  The Chiefs had crushed the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV.  In 1971 They were still regarded as one of the very best teams in all of football.  Few outside of South Florida gave the Dolphins any chance in this game.  It was a high-scoring contest.  When regulation time was completed, the score was 24-24.  What would happen in sudden death overtime?  Both teams failed to score in the first overtime.  Then, midway through the second overtime, Larry Csonka burst through a gaping hole, running for nearly 40 yards near the Chiefs’ 30 yard line.  Miami lined-up for a 37-yard field goal attempt.  Earlier, future Hall of Fame kicker Jan Stenerud had missed a shorter field goal that would have won it for the Chiefs.  The winds swirled. Garo Yepremian’s 37-yard kick WAS GOOD!!  The longest game in NFL history WAS OVER!  It took 82 minutes and 40 seconds of playing time.South Florida football fans had received an extra special Christmas gift — the gift of Miami’s first ever playoff victory!

Eventually, the thrill of this historic overtime victory gave way to the bitter taste of defeat.  The Dolphins were embarrassed in Super Bowl VI, losing 24-3 to the Dallas Cowboys.  Shula and his players vowed this would never happen to them again. They wanted another shot at the Super Bowl.  They wanted revenge.

On opening day, Sept. 17, 1972, the Chiefs also wanted revenge.  And why not?  Brand new Arrowhead Stadium was a madhouse as nearly 80,000 fans came to the game with one thing on their minds: REVENGE!!  Tickets were selling for 10 to 20 times face value in the parking lots and side streets on game day.  The intensity of these fans was unbelievable!  Psychologically, the Chiefs had the advantage.  But the Dolphins also had some advantages on this sultry day inKansas City.  In no particular order they had: 1) The Brain; 2) The 53 defense; and 3) The Heat.  Calm, cool, collected Bob Griese was The Brain for Miami’s grind-it-out ball control offense.  The key was Griese’s belief that Miami needed to run BETWEEN, not OVER, the Chiefs’ huge defensive linemen.  Griese’s clever play-calling produced a huge running game advantage for the Dolphins.  Fullback Larry Csonka repeated his “Longest Game” heroics by rushing for 118 yards.  Jim Kiick and Mercury Morris also gained important yardage.  The raging late summer heat provided Miami with an extra edge.  Dressed in all-white uniforms (which repelled some sunlight) the Dolphins had an advantage over the red-clad Chiefs (whose dark colors ABSORBED more of the heat).  The temperatures on Arrowhead’s artificial surface approached 120 degrees that day!  “We were dying at the half so you know how they must have felt,” said Mercury Morris.  “We feel we’re in better shape than any team we play.”  Shula’s fearsome 3-A-Day workouts in pads during summer camp were paying off. “This was a real hot one,” said the Don of Miami.  “We felt our preparation gave us an advantage.”

Two Kansas City mistakes led to both Miami touchdowns.  On KC’s first possession, Ed Podolak fumbled and Dick Anderson recovered at Miami’s 43.  After several running plays, Griese lofted a perfect 14-yard TD pass to his newest target, Marlin Briscoe, who’d been acquired from Buffalo for a 1st round draft choice.

After a 47-yard Yepremian field goal, Len Dawson was picked-off by Jake Scott near the Chiefs’ 40.  A 30-yard pass, Griese to Paul Warfield, set-up Csonka’s 2-yard TD run.  Miami had a commanding 17-0 halftime lead in front of a stunned sell-out crowd at Arrowhead.

Miami’s famed 53 defense was created during the preseason of 1972.  Injuries to two defensive ends forced defensive coach Bill Arnsparger to play #53, Bob Matheson, at either defensive end (on a 4-3 defense) or linebacker (on a 3-4 defense).  Miami sprung this new defense on the Chiefs in the 2nd quarter.  In the 3-4 alignment,Miami dropped back 8 defenders in the pass coverage, throttling the KC passing game.  It worked to perfection.  Future Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawson appeared confused and indecisive.

The two teams traded field goals in the 3rd quarter as Miami led 20-3.  It was incredibly hot.  Not too hot though, for 265 pound Miamiguard Larry Little who SPRINTED down to the other end of the field as the 3rd quarter came to a close! “That was the sweetest sight” said a smiling Don Shula.  The Chiefs finally scored their lone touchdown with just 9 seconds left on the clock.  The final score, 20-10, was deceptively close. In fact, Miami was in total control of this football game.

Losing coach Hank Stram commented “I didn’t think either team played with much enthusiasm.” It was a listless game throughout.”  When told of Stram’s comments, Shula broke into a wide grin and replied, “I was very happy with our enthusiasm.”

The road to Absolute Perfection had begun with a most impressive road win over one of the best teams in the National Football League.  The 1972 Dolphins were now 1-0.

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  1. Al in MIA says:

    I know recruing class rankings aren’t anything to bank on but you must be happy with UCLA.

  2. Mike E. says:

    I used to prep the bowl with some fine weedage, and a minimum of seedage, although they did make it interesting when they popped . . .

    • Brian in NY says:

      I enjoyed when it popped when someone else was taking a hit.

      • Mike E. says:

        True that, although I didn’t mind the popping much when it was me either. I always preferred using a pipe or carburetor, or something like that over rolling.

  3. wyoming85 says:

    Mike E
    You asked about Holliman?
    I think he could be there in the 3rd
    Or take Chris Hackett in the 3rd or 4th

  4. The Flying Pig says:

  5. The Flying Pig says:

    TCU has so many defensive draft propsects coming out

    • The Flying Pig says:

      The other Kevin White
      And maybe even Chuck Hunter gets drafted

      They have another OLB and S coming out too

  6. The Flying Pig says:


    I forgot to mention
    Great job on your piece today

    I tweeted a link to your story and it had a few retweets
    People Really like our great history

  7. The Flying Pig says:

    Legarret Blount is an ass

  8. The Flying Pig says:


  9. jahndoh says:

    I’m on the road and super busy, so honestly I wasn’t following the college commits…but DAMN! Nice class Mora!

    My only problem with the article was that while talking about Snoops son (from what everyone out west is saying the kid is awesome!) he referenced an Ice Cube song (Today was a good day), but didn’t give him the credit by saying “Another west coast rapper not named Snoop Dogg”.

    Kinda bullshit, but that’s beside the point, GO Bruins!

  10. wyoming85 says:

    44 Paul Dawson OLB 6 TCU Sr 6-2 230 2
    73 *Chris Hackett FS 2 TCU rJr 6-2 195 2-3
    91 Kevin White CB 11 TCU rSr 5-9 180 3
    199 Tayo Fabuluje OT 17 TCU rSr 6-7 353 6
    246 Chucky Hunter DT 22 TCU Sr 6-0 298 7
    287 Sam Carter SS 11 TCU rSr 6-0 216 7-FA

  11. wyoming85 says:

    Frack there Grades!

    Your score is: 4375 (GRADE: B+)

    Your Picks:
    Round 1 Pick 31 (SEA): Eric Kendricks, ILB/OLB, UCLA (B)
    Round 2 Pick 11 (CLE): Derron Smith, FS, Fresno State (B)
    Round 2 Pick 15: Jalen Collins, CB, LSU (B+)
    Round 2 Pick 31 (SEA): Tre’ Jackson, OG, Florida State (A-)
    Round 3 Pick 14: Tony Lippett, WR, Michigan State (A-)
    Round 3 Pick 22 (ARI): Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M (B)
    Round 4 Pick 15: Joey Mbu, DT, Houston (B)
    Round 5 Pick 14: Tyler Varga, FB, Yale (B+)
    Round 6 Pick 15: Anthony Jefferson, SS, UCLA (C+)
    Round 7 Pick 15: Hayes Pullard, ILB, Southern California (B)

  12. wyoming85 says:

    Well that’s a relief!
    I can Kill this blog too! 😉

    • Mike E. says:

      Hey! I’m busy drafting dammit!

      Your score is: 4593 (GRADE: B+)

      Your Picks:
      Round 1 Pick 14: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama (A)
      Round 2 Pick 15: Eli Harold, OLB, Virginia (A)
      Round 3 Pick 14: Gerod Holliman, FS, Louisville (A-)
      Round 4 Pick 15: Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M (A)
      Round 5 Pick 14: Phillip Dorsett, WR, Miami (Fla.) (C+)
      Round 6 Pick 15: Karlos Williams, RB, Florida State (B)
      Round 7 Pick 15: Blake Bell, TE, Oklahoma (B)

      Oh well, couldn’t get the DT’s I wanted. Who needs defense, anyway . . . . 😛

  13. olddolphan says:

    FLYING PIG; THANKS FOR RETWEETING and thank you for the nice comments. You’re a good man, Mr. Jordy!! Hoping you, too, can make it to the Fest this season!

  14. Mike E. says:

    Wyo – That draft game really underrates Ogbuehi, not sure why.

    • wyoming85 says:

      He is dropping everywhere I look!
      Not sure why?
      But I’ll take it!
      You know how OT’s are though! Always high on the boards!

  15. wyoming85 says:

    Mike E
    I would take a couple of FS over Holliman
    Maybe Hackett

  16. wyoming85 says:

    I liked the TCU D!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. wyoming85 says:

    OK I’m out
    Later Haters

  18. olddolphan says:

    MIKE E.;ALL of the mock Dolphin drafts I’ve seen on this site overlook Florida Atlantic’s DB D’Joun Smith, the best DB in Florida Atlantic history. I’m tellin you (and MF-13, among others) that if Smith’s still available in round 5, the Fins should take him in a heartbeat!! –This kid is a difference maker!! Plus, the Fins could use a little FAU positive karma to help them win close games. Howard Schnellenberger really likes Smith A LOT!!–That’s good enough for ME!!

  19. Mike E. says:

    OD – We might take a CB earlier, but it’s possible we can double up. Grimes is getting up there, and I’m not sure we have starter opposite him. Taylor and Davis are big ???? right now.

    • olddolphan says:

      Unless we get a solid DB in FA, I think Miami needs to draft 2 defensive backs in the draft. Getting a bargain like Smith in round 5 would certainly be a feather in Do-Hickey’s hat! –HELL, I’d be OK if we took him in round 4.

  20. Mike E. says:

    Goodnight OD – Long day tomorrow. Catch ya tomorrow!

  21. olddolphan says:

    Just got back from walking the dogs. The predicted rain has just started. Supposed to last thru the morning before clearing up around noon. Highs near 70 and Lows in the 50’s the next several days, with mostly sunny skies beginning tomorrow afternoon. –Another “Positive Attitude Day” in Florida. –The Old Dolfan is out. Glad y’all liked Game 1 of ABSOLUTE PERFECTION!!

  22. The Flying Pig says:

    Your Picks:
    Round 2 Pick 9 (STL): Denzel Perryman, ILB/OLB, Miami (Fla.) (B-)
    Round 2 Pick 15: Marcus Peters, CB, Washington (A-)
    Round 2 Pick 29 (IND): Carl Davis, DT/DE, Iowa (B+)
    Round 2 Pick 32 (N.E.): Clive Walford, TE, Miami (Fla.) (B+)
    Round 3 Pick 8 (STL): Breshad Perriman, WR, UCF (B-)
    Round 3 Pick 14: Gerod Holliman, FS, Louisville (A-)
    Round 4 Pick 2 (N.E.): Geneo Grissom, OLB, Oklahoma (B)
    Round 4 Pick 7 (CHI): Laken Tomlinson, OG, Duke (A-)
    Round 5 Pick 14: Tyler Varga, FB, Yale (B+)
    Round 7 Pick 15: Chucky Hunter, DT, TCU (D+)

  23. son of a son of a shula says:

    Piggs, One UCF draftee is not going to cut it go back and try again.
    Think Jacoby Glenn, Terrance Plummer, Clayton Geathers, Rannell Hall and Torrian Wilson. And of course JJ Wharton – obviously

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