ABSOLUTE PERFECTION: THE 1972 MIAMI DOLPHINS

By: Randy Campbell (Old Dolfan)

Game 2: Sept. 24, 1972 – Houston at Miami

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.

Yes, I know, I used those exact same words to begin my first article on The Perfect Season. But those words are extremely important to those of us who witnessed Absolute Perfection. It is something young Dolfans should always remember. It is something old Dolfans will never forget.

The Perfect Season is the source, the very essence, of Dolphin pride. It is what separates us from the fans of every other team in the National Football League.  Breathe it!  Eat it!  Sleep it!  The Perfect Season is OURS TO ENJOY!!

The Houston Oilers dominated the early years of the American Football League. They had high profile super stars, such as legendary quarterback and placekicker George Blanda and Heisman Trophy winner Billy Cannon. But they also had ace wideout Bill Groman from division III Heidelberg College. Groman led the AFL in receiving in 1960 with nearly 1500 yards and a 21 yards per catch average. Fullback Dave Smith, from tiny Ripon College, keyed the running game along with Cannon.

The Oilers won the very first AFL Championship Game 24-16 over the Los Angeles Chargers (led by future vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp). A year later, in 1961, Houston defeated the now relocated San Diego Chargers 10-3. Houston’s attempt at a “3-Peat” failed when they lost the 1962 AFL title game to Lamar Hunt’s Dallas Texans 20-17 in a double overtime thriller. Humt subsequently moved the Texans to Kansas City where they became the Chiefs in 1963.

The Houston Oilers team that took on the Dolphins the second week of The Perfect Season was a far cry from the juggernaut Oilers of the early 1960’s. Both George Blanda and Billy Cannon were shipped to the Oakland Raiders. They were replaced by a group of ragtag misfits who would produce a 1-13 record in 1972. The only star on this Oiler’s team was future Hall of Fame receiver Charlie Joiner.

Miami head coach Don Shula was taking nothing for granted. He was intimately familiar with the “On Any Given Sunday” credo. His totally unexpected loss as head coach of the Colts to the upstart Jets in Super Bowl III still ate at his belly. And his lopsided loss in Super Bowl VI to the Cowboys was still fresh in his mind. Shula decided he would take out some of his frustrations on this outmanned Oilers squad.

Shula was pleased with Miami’s ground game in 1971. Csonka and Kiick were outstanding. But Shula wanted more, much more. So he made heavy use of speedy Mercury Morris during the 1972 preseason. Morris responded with several spectacular long runs.

AYAAQAHA-P2259872-239x300

The Don of Miami thought the Houston game would be the perfect time to spring Morris on the National Football League. Shula’s timing was just right. The “Three Back Offense” made its first appearance in game #2 of The Perfect Season.  Morris ran 15 times for 94 yards and a touchdown. Csonka had 17 carries for 79 yards and a score while Jim Kiick ran 9 times for 55 yards and a TD. The result was a team record 17 first downs rushing for 247 yards on the ground.

img106114352

Jim Kiick was the first runner to benefit from   the “Three Back Attack.” On the game’s second play Miami’s Vern Den Herder crushed Houston’s Hoyle Granger, forcing a fumble. Bill Stanfill recovered at the Houston 14. Two runs by Kiick produced the game’s first score after just 1:43 of playing time.  On Houston’s second series quarterback Dan Pastorini attempted an ill-advised quick-kick. Miami’s Jim Mandich recovered the botched play fumble at Houston’s 30. Three runs by Morris produced the game’s second touchdown and Miami led 13-0 after Yepremian shanked the PAT attempt on the wet artificial surface.

In the second quarter Bob Griese tossed a perfect deep pass to Paul Warfield good for 39 yards to the Oilers 10. A six yard burst by Kiick was followed by a four yard touchdown run by Csonka and Miami led 20-0 at the half. Combined with Miami’s 17-0 halftime lead at Kansas City in game 1, the Fins had now out scored their opponents 37-0 in the first halves of their first two games.

Miami seemed to take complete control of the game when they roared down the field during the first few minutes of the third quarter. Griese capped the 76 yard drive with a two yard TD scamper and the Dolphins led 27-0.

Game over?  Not quite.

An 82-yard TD bomb, Pastorini to Joiner, was followed quickly by a one yard touchdown plunge by Willie Rodgers annd, suddenly, it was 27-13. Shula said he felt a “little uneasy.”

50556_36866723581_7205074_n

Not to worry. The “Three Back Attack” had the remedy for Shula’s unsettled stomach. A 16 play 93 yard drive consuming over seven minutes of the clock was just what the doctor ordered. Csonka carried the ball four times. Morris had three carries. Griese completed key passes to Paul Warfield and Marv Fleming.

The drive ended when Griese tossed a perfect 6 yard TD pass to Jim Kiick in the left corner of the end zone. Yepremian’s conversion on the rain slicked polyturf surface gave Miami a safe 34-13 lead.

Some wondered “Would all 3 members of the Three Back Attack gain 100 yards?” Not on this slippery day.  Shula wisely replaced his starters with back-up runners Hubert Ginn and Charlie Leigh.

In the Houston locker room, head coach Bill Peterson (whose coaching success at Florida State led to the Oilers job) was in awe of the Dolphins’ effort. “Let me say the Dolphins aren’t a good football team, — they are a GREAT football team. They showed it in the fourth quarter on that game clinching drive.”

For just a few minutes Shula allowed his team to enjoy their victory over an outmatched Oilers team. Then, he turned his attention to next week’s challenge. He knew his Dolphins would be underdogs on the road at Bud Grant’s Minnesota Vikings. Yes, there was trouble on the horizon.

The 1972 Miami Dolphins were now 2-0.

This entry was posted in Absolute Perfection and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

317 Responses to ABSOLUTE PERFECTION: THE 1972 MIAMI DOLPHINS

  1. getterdone says:

    D, that was a nicely done mock @ 3:34, one that could become possible. I’ve mentioned before about trading Wallace for someone’s 3rd & 4th round pick.

  2. Silly Tim says:

    Stanger I don’t drink mixed drinks much but you mentioned Bahama Mamas and they reminded me of Alabama Slammers or Red Devils back in the day. Hey look at me I’m drinking fruit juice. Soon to be doing this.

  3. getterdone says:

    Looks like he was getting a Bud 12 pk….I can see the commercial with this footage now.
    ‘Please Drink Irresponsibly’

  4. Silly Tim says:

    I love when he opens the door it looks like he does a dance move as he swings with it. LOL

  5. dbolt48 says:

    This is for Tim…has trade downs and Varga😏

    Your Picks:
    Round 1 Pick 23 (DET): Jordan Phillips, DT, Oklahoma (B+)
    Round 2 Pick 15: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia (A)
    Round 2 Pick 22 (DET): Nelson Agholor, WR, Southern California (A-)
    Round 2 Pick 24 (PITT): Clive Walford, TE, Miami (Fla.) (B+)
    Round 3 Pick 14: Phillip Dorsett, WR, Miami (Fla.) (B)
    Round 3 Pick 23 (PITT): Steven Nelson, CB, Oregon State (A-)
    Round 3 Pick 26 (BALT): Stephone Anthony, ILB, Clemson (C)
    Round 4 Pick 15: Jeremiah Poutasi, OT, Utah (A-)
    Round 4 Pick 26 (BALT): Ali Marpet, OG, Hobart & William Smith (A-)
    Round 5 Pick 14: Breshad Perriman, WR, UCF (A)
    Round 6 Pick 15: Tyler Varga, FB, Yale (A)
    Round 7 Pick 15: Cam Thomas, CB, Western

  6. Mike E. says:

    D-Bolt
    Can’t argue that man!

  7. The Flying Pig says:

  8. Silly Tim says:

    Mike E, temper temper. LOL

  9. The Flying Pig says:

  10. D says:

    You guys should checkout Francis on youtube. Good stuff.

  11. getterdone says:

    I Can Handle My Beer!

  12. getterdone says:

    WOW, Bucs released Josh McCown….they just tipped their hand that they will indeed draft Mariota or more likely Winston.
    Now, with Moore likely signing elsewhere, do we make a more reasonable offer to Josh to be Tanny’s backup?
    Let Moore know we are offering a deal to McCown for say $2M, then maybe Moore takes a haircut to stay in Miami?
    Something I’m sure that Hickey is pondering now.

    • Try Pod says:

      Is that how it works? Offer them a haircut and they may stay? I did not know that…

    • stangerx says:

      All depends whether Moore wants a compete or is willing to be a highly paid #2. Ain’t us in first scenario and in the 2nd he is up for bid.

      • getterdone says:

        Agreed, but McCown, a cagey vet now on the market helps us in some negotiations. I seriously don’t see Moore as someone’s announced starter unless he was coming into a team fresh off of plenty of playing time from, last season to warrant value. Much like McCown did following a good year in Chicago under Trestman & Lovie, who then brought him to Tampa as his starting QB.

        But, I could be very wrong…people inside the game that know these guys could see Moore winning a starting job in competition somewhere.

  13. getterdone says:

    StangerX, I’m sure Hickey has been talking to Moore and has a pulse as to what his true wishes are…so from there we’ll soon see.

  14. Silly Tim says:

    I think Moore’s window to be a starter is closing. Teams are going younger looking for their franchise QB and Moore will be 31 this season. Not saying it’s impossible he can’t start somewhere but he’ll always have a young buck behind him. I wish him well and wouldn’t mind him coming back but I’d prefer a QB who has some of the skills (mobility) Tanny has so we don’t have to change the offense if he goes down.

  15. getterdone says:

    Knicks vs. the Magic tonight in the ‘Who sucks the worst’ matchup!

  16. getterdone says:

    Sky Pilot! How high can you fly?

  17. Ken says:

    What’s up FUers? What did I miss today?

  18. Ken says:

    I was listening to Pat Kirwan and Jim Miller on NFL Radio on the ride home today. They were talking Dolphins. They were very high on Walt Aikens. They scouted him at the combine last year and they think he is going to be real player. They said he has great range and can be a real ball hawk.

    • getterdone says:

      Yeah, we know how good the front end of Hickey’s 1st draft is doing…we’ll soon see in 2015 & 15 how the back end of his draft will do with guys like Aikens, Lynch, Tripp, Hazel, Fede….and of course we’re pretty confident that Turner will start balling this year.

      • Ken says:

        Fede is a guy who I really want to see play. He may well get his chance if Odrick leaves which I think he will.

    • Silly Tim says:

      I like him too. He has corner skills too but is better suited for safety in the NFL. I like the way he tackles. I’ve been saying we need him to make that 2nd year jump. He gives us some size 6-1 205 in the secondary with Jones 6-1 210.

  19. Silly Tim says:

    Ken, Aikens was one of the mid rd DBs I liked in the draft last year. When we were up in the 4th rd I said maybe a big DB here and then everyone hated the pick. Not me. LOL

    If Taylor can stay healthy I think our starting secondary in 2015 could be:
    CB Grimes
    CB Taylor
    S Jones
    S Aikens

    Not sure about the depth at this time. A lot of questions with injury and FAs.

  20. Silly Tim says:

    Fede could turn out to be a gem. He has good size and decent quickness to play both DE and DT in different formations. Could be a real productive rotation D-lineman. Plays STs too.

    Hickey might have hit on some good players his first year as GM.

  21. Mike E. says:

    I can’t get too excited about Aikens yet. I got to wait and see with him. I would prefer to draft Holliman, and then Aikens could either compete with him at FS, or he can move back to CB.

  22. Silly Tim says:

    DL
    LDE Wake/Fede
    LDT UFA/Starks
    RDT Mitchell/A. Johnson etc. (we have some young DTs on the roster)
    RDE Vernon/Jordan

    SOLB McCain/Tripp (McCain can also serve as an edge rusher)
    MLB Misi/Tripp/Draftee
    WOLB Jenkins/Draftee

    LCB Grimes/?
    S Jones/?
    S Aikens/?
    RCB Taylor/?

    • Ken says:

      I think Jordan is going to get more of a shot at OLB.

      • Silly Tim says:

        I don’t, he’s too big – almost 6-7 and 260+ is a DE/edge rusher but with his athleticism sometimes a situational LB and matchup guy. I’ve always viewed him as a hybrid defender but more edge guy than a backer.

  23. Silly Tim says:

    Mike E, Fede was drafted 7th rd.

  24. Ken says:

    Tim:
    A lot of inexeperience in that secondary. Hard to count on Taylor and Aikens to be starters at this point. I like what I have seen in both but handing them the keys to the car is a little risky. Maybe necessary but risky.

    • Silly Tim says:

      2nd and 3rd year, nah! I’m not afraid. Until we see FA it’s not going to get experienced.

      I think Finnegan will be released – he was banged up all year. Wilson is a UFA. Davis is coming off of knee surgery and not that experienced. Thomas is a UFA and not that experienced. D. Jones is more STs than DB. We don’t have a lot of experience in the secondary.

      • Ken says:

        I agree Finnegan is done. Delmas is not going to be re-signed. I definitely think Taylor gets his chance as a starter. Not sure we have seen enough from Aikens just yet but I expect to see him in the rotation more frequently. They also need to figure out if they want him at CB or S. I expect he takes over Jimmy Wilson’s role as the primary backup at either spot.

  25. wyoming85 says:

    WTF
    last years daft is well, so last year!
    lets just move forward please! 😉

  26. Ken says:

    My evening drive by is over. I need to get some sleep. I am out. Peace to you all.

  27. Silly Tim says:

    Wyo, the 2nd year is when coaches feel players make the biggest jump overall because they put their wide-eyed rookie season behind them and they know what to expect. People are worried about putting 2nd and 3rd year guys in as starters to quickly but then looking to the draft for guys with no NFL experience. It happens every year. The draft is so filled with hope but remember it always balances out in every draft. The impact isn’t strong from every pick and sometimes not in chronological order.

  28. wyoming85 says:

    Kiss my OG ass

    Your score is: 4770 (GRADE: A-)

    Your Picks:
    Round 1 Pick 14: Shaq Thompson, OLB/ILB, Washington (A)
    Round 2 Pick 15: Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State (A)
    Round 3 Pick 14: Gerod Holliman, FS, Louisville (A)
    Round 4 Pick 15: Ronald Darby, CB, Florida State (A-)
    Round 5 Pick 14: Marcus Hardison, DT, Arizona State (A)
    Round 6 Pick 15: Tyler Varga, FB, Yale (A)
    Round 7 Pick 15: Jarvis Harrison, OG, Texas A&M (D+)

  29. Mike E. says:

    Wyo

    I like Varga for the same reason. I think he could be a our short yardage guy and finisher.

  30. wyoming85 says:

    MIKE E
    Smith and Hackett were gone!

  31. Silly Tim says:

    Wyo, if you’ve followed FA and the draft over the years you would know that this time of year is a waste of time before the combine and pro days to hone in on the draft too deeply. So much stuff is uncovered during that time.

    • wyoming85 says:

      You are 100% correct!
      It’s just entertainment during the doldrums!

      • Silly Tim says:

        Not saying nobody can do it just in case that gets thrown out there, but do you really think the constant mock drafts are entertainment? Hey look, the 57th mock draft today done with bizarro trades and the same 4-5 names every time. Woo hoo!!! LOL

      • wyoming85 says:

        To me it is!
        But I’ll stop posting them if it really bothers you?

  32. Silly Tim says:

    Varga, the man who can run through anything. He doesn’t even need a block, just his pure 5th to 6th rd awesomeness. LOL

  33. The Flying Pig says:

    Tim

    What do you have against Varga

    The guy can run block and catch

    He’s a day 3 pick

    We need a bruiser back and he might fit
    Somebody is going to draft him and get production

    We have a good thing going with Miller
    Some one like Varga on day 3 can really help us in short yardage and to spell Miller

    He is not going to be Pro bowl back
    But productive? I bet we can get soemthing or of him

  34. Silly Tim says:

    Piggy, I have nothing against Varga. But this idea that an Ivy league 5th-7th rd RB/FB is the key to any NFL team is mind boggling to me. Why is he a late rd prospect?

    • Mike E. says:

      I don’t think anyone thinks he’s the key to anything. We need another back to complement Miller, and preferably a big back. He could be that guy. I’d rather them get Varga in the 6th than get Ayaji or Yeldon in the 2nd or 3rd.

      • Silly Tim says:

        Varga is 5-10 227 and Miller is 5-10 224. He’s not that big. He has some really good instincts but I’d be concerned about his strength and speed at the next level. The competition he faced – probably 85% of them won’t play in the NFL.

        I don’t hate the guy, I just find it funny how popular he became in the Senior Bowl when he was regularly overwhelmed trying to block but he’s an instinctive runner and had a good game in an all-star game. The Senior Bowl is not the NFL with grizzled vets and elite talent.

  35. Mike E. says:

    Goodnight people! Catch ya tomorrow!

  36. manitobafinfan says:

    Answer to 4000/300 Club:

    Tannehill became only the eighth quarterback in NFL history to pass for at least 4,000 yards and rush for at least 300 in the same season. He joined Cam Newton (2011), Aaron Rodgers (2009), Daunte Culpepper (2004), Jeff Garcia (2000), Steve Young (1993, 1998), Mark Brunell (1996) and Don Majkowski (1989).

  37. manitobafinfan says:

    Had a fun night tonight.. Went to see “The Pink Floyd Experience” , band from San Diego that does an Awesome job on Floyd tunes.. Spent time with the Flying Pig, Sax player looked like Al .. Keyboardist TOTALLY reminded me and the missus of Rockphin.. Besides playing the keyboards, he also did the Maniacal laff from Brain Damage/Eclipse, as well as the female Wailing solo part.. That Rockphin is one talented dude.. I have always been a huge Floyd fan, but have just never been right place/ with right person to see them live, MAN have missed something..wife went in saying she could not name three songs, i told her she’d be surprised how many she would recognize.. she was very pleased with the show as well.. Anyways, anyone gets the chance , go see these guys well worth the 50.00 .. Go Arthur Lynch !!!!!! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s