By: Randy Campbell (Old Dolfan)

SI Cover

GAME 1: San Francisco @ Miami, Sept. 16, 1973

 The 1972 Miami Dolphins did what no other NFL team had ever done before AND what no other NFL team has done since. They ran the table. They were perfect. They were 17 and 0! It WAS and IS considered the greatest achievement by any team in the storied history of the National Football League.

What to do for an encore? The concept of back-to-back perfect seasons seemed totally out of reach, even for this team. But some fans (including your author) wondered aloud “Could the ’73 Dolphins be as good, or BETTER, than last year’s team?

Some veteran NFL experts claimed the ’72 Dolphins were incredibly lucky. Others said they played a weak schedule. Still others pointed out Miami’s narrow margins of victory in games 15, 16 and 17 proved they were NOT a dominant team. While I disagreed with all of these criticisms, I did agree with the old saying which says “there’s always room for improvement.”

Improvement? On perfection? You’ve got to be kidding me!! Fact is,I really thought this imagesteam could get even BETTER. Young quarterback Bob Griese missed most of the ’72 regular season with a broken ankle. When he returned, he sometimes showed signs of rust. I was convinced that if Griese stayed healthy throughout 1973 the offense, ranked #1 in ’72, could get EVEN BETTER!!

The Dolphins defense suffered a rash of injuries during the 6-game 1972 exhibition season. This necessitated the creation of the 53 defense wherein Miami could change from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 defense frequently during the game. I believed a couple less injuries in 1973 would propel this defense to a historically GREAT season. (In fact, Miami’s 1973 defense gave up only 150 points — 10.7 points per game — during the 14 game regular season, an ALL-TIME NFL RECORD!!)

First up for the Dolphins as they prepared to defend their Super Bowl Championship was the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers first entered pro football as a founding member of the All-America Football Conference in 1946. During the four year history of that league the Niners established themselves as the league’s second best franchise behind the perennial champs, the Cleveland Browns. in 1950, when the AAFC disbanded, the Browns, the 49ers and the first team to be known as the Baltimore Colts (the former Miami Seahawks franchise) were invited to join the NFL. In the 1950 season, the Browns shocked the established teams by winning the NFL title. The 49ers struggled to a 3-9 record while the first Baltimore Colts team disbanded.  Winning seasons followed from 1951 through 1954 as the NFL’s first “Million Dollar Backfield,” 49ers QB Y. A. Tittle and Hall of Fame running backs Joe Perry and Hugh McElhenny paced a very productive offense. In 1960, innovative head coach Red Hickey invented the still used shotgun formation for the 49ers.

In the late 1970’s the 49er franchise was struggling. In 1979 they finished 2-14 under new owner Eddie DeBartolo, Jr., and new head coach Bill Walsh, a former offensive coordinator under Paul Brown in Cincinnati. In 1980, legendary quarterback Joe Montana replaced Steve DeBerg. Dwight Clark assumed the tight end position. Next season, defenders Ronnie Lott, Eric Wright, Dwight Hicks and Fred Dean joined the defense. Other stars would follow. This franchise would go on to win FOUR Super Bowls in the decade, earning the moniker “Team of the ’80’s.” In 1994, paced by Hall of Famers Steve Young and Jerry Rice, the 49ers defeated San Diego to claim their 5th Super Bowl title.

In 1973, the Super Bowl was just a dream for 49er fans. But they did have hope. In 1970, 1971 and 1972 the Niners reached the playoffs. The 1972 team won the NFC West under the leadership of star QB John Brodie. But, for the third consecutive season, San Francisco was eliminated from the playoffs by the Dallas Cowboys. Nonetheless, San Francisco came into Miami as a highly regarded team that was expected to compete for the 1973 NFC title. Miami was only a 4-point favorite in this season opener.

ticketEvery single seat in the historic Orange Bowl was sold out for this game. But when I arrived at my seat I realized something was very, very, different. There were empty seats at this game! The league’s anti-blackout policy had just gone into effect. Games sold out more than 72 hours before kickoff (like this one) could be shown on local TV. So a handful of Dolfans chose to stay home and watch it on free TV.

Something far more troubling was different. The heat. It was unlike any game I had ever attended. The official temperature at kickoff (1 PM) was 86 degrees. But that was several miles away at the airport. There was NOT a breath of air coming off Biscayne Bay. I guessed it was AT LEAST 92-95 degrees between the walls of the huge stadium! And, down on the field covered by artificial grass, the temperature reached close to 120 degrees, according to Miami’s team physician, Dr. Herbert Virgin. I saw this as a medical catastrophe in the making, especially in the sun-baked stands where retirees in their 70’s and 80’s sat in the deadly open sun for 3-4 hours. Humidity readings near 100 per cent only made things worse.

Miami’s offense sputtered for nearly all of the first three quarters. Two Yepremian field Brodiegoals (one of 53 yards) produced Miami’s paltry six points heading into the final quarter. Meanwhile, San Francisco’s offense had some success early on. A Bruce Gossett field goal and a three yard touchdown run by Vic Washington gave the Niners a 10-6 halftime lead. But, early in the third quarter, star QB John Brodie staggered back to the huddle and COLLAPSED! “I felt like someone pulled the plug …. I couldn’t move,” said a dangerously dehydrated Brodie. Brodie was DONE! So were the 49ers! By early in the fourth quarter, about 7-8 starters had been removed from the game. “We died out there,” said Dolphin defender Manny Fernandez, “but NOT as fast as THEY DID!” Shula’s grueling summer conditioning program was the difference.

Back up QB Steve Spurrier replaced Brodie and spurriercompleted the drive that produced another Gossett field goal, putting San Francisco ahead 13-6. But, in the final moments of the third quarter, the Dolphins finally got their offense rolling. A 25-yard rumble by Larry Csonka was followed by several on-target passes by Bob Griese. Early in the fourth quarter Griese hit Paul Warfield with a 10-yard touchdown strike and the Dolphins finally had tied the game at 13-13. But, in the searing heat, many had already gone home!

On the next Dolphin series Garo Yepremian lined-up a 45 yard field goal. Everyone who could stand up was standing in silence. The kick was in the air – – – it was GOO-O-O-OD!! A roar from the Fin Faithful celebrated Miami taking a 16-13 lead!! But about six rows in front of me, an older fan tilted over to his left and collapsed on the seat next to him. Medics arrived with a stretcher. But they were too late. This poor fan had died on the spot!

The Dolphins dominated the last few minutes of the game, forcing a safety and adding Garo’s record breaking (at the time) 9th consecutive successful field goal during the regular season over a two-year span. Final score: Miami-21, Niners-13. Garo’s four field goals and Csonka’s 104 yards rushing grabbed the headlines. But, in truth, the biggest player of this game was the deadly heat. The Forty Niners’ flight home from Miami to San Francisco was detoured to Denver. Approximately a dozen players were taken off the flight and kept in Denver over night so they could be treated for dehydration and heat exhaustion. One report said a player had to have CPR to save his life. That report was denied by team officials.

John Brodie was never the same after this game. By mid-season, he was benched in favor of Steve Spurrier. Years later, while broadcasting a football game, Brodie admitted he could remember very little from the last half of that game in Miami.

The 1973 Miami Dolphins were now 1-0.




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  1. finfanrob says:

    Tim Knight says:
    June 10, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    I’ve seen you say that before, what is that all about?

    well i hate to steal jetssuck thunder, but it is when mike e hacked into his computer by trianulating it and stole all his draft information then did a ask mike about it and didnt give him any credit.

  2. finfanrob says:

    stangerx says:
    June 10, 2015 at 4:49 pm

    ffr — sorry if I am letting you down. All I can do is tell you I’ll try harder. Am hoping you can make it to the fest and we throw one down together though.

    goes without saying you know just having some fun. and you got a deal, if i make it to the fest we can throw one down together. but no crossing swords. after maybe i will buy you a beer.

  3. Tim Knight says:

    Stanger, forgot to answer about where our tickets are to the game. They’re up there in the 300s on an end zone side. I forgot the exact numbers. My brother-in-law purchased them and I simply gave him money for them. They went to $160 almost right after we got them.

    • stangerx says:

      My guess is that with as many New Yorkers down here that the Giants are a hot tix for a reason. Lots of Jets fans too……but they come every year. Will not that you could have a better ticket at the fest a lot cheaper though. 🙂

  4. finfanrob says:

    son of a son of a shula says:
    June 10, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    Grapefruit, a bathin’ suit, chew a little juicy fruit
    Wash away the night

    what is a night with caitlyn jenner

    • son of a son of a shula says:

      LOL and even more LOL at the one you said last night when Mike said he was leaving work, shit was funny.

  5. Tim Knight says:

    Stanger’s toothpaste pump. LOL

  6. son of a son of a shula says:

    Stanger, Thanks for taking care of the tix, Honestly it doesn’t matter to me where the seats are anyway but those should be nice. Being with you and Piggs and the rest of the fest attendees is what its all about for me.

    • stangerx says:

      I’m just happy the 4X6 on the aisle was there. You know I get up a lot.

      An no doubt……we could all hang out in the parking lot during the game and it would still be great.

  7. Mike E. says:

    That triangulating nonsense is pretty stale. We’ve come a long way since then. Let it die already.

    • Tim Knight says:

      I have no idea what that’s about. I thought FFR was making something up when I asked him about the hacking thing. I don’t get it!

      • Mike E. says:

        Hopefully for the very last time, M13 accused me/us of hacking into his twitter account to get some info, or something to that effect. No offense to M, but that was about as silly a thing as he’s ever said.

  8. Mike E. says:


    I have one program that we use that we have to change the password every 60 days. It’s effing ridiculous, and yes, of course that on requires a capital, and at least 8 letters or numbers. Plus, you can’t ever use a previous password. WTF are they so afraid of? No one, and I mean NO ONE wants to get into that database. It drives me crazy!

  9. Tim Knight says:

    Mike E, oh I didn’t realize that. Yeah I’m pretty sure that didn’t happen.

  10. finfanrob says:

    Mike E. says:
    June 10, 2015 at 5:00 pm

    That triangulating nonsense is pretty stale. We’ve come a long way since then. Let it die already.

    lol, yeah we will just stick with something fresh like your helping hand.

  11. finfanrob says:


    you do know i am not busting your balls about it but silliness of it even being mentioned.

  12. finfanrob says:

    Mike E. says:
    June 10, 2015 at 5:03 pm


    I have one program that we use that we have to change the password every 60 days. It’s effing ridiculous, and yes, of course that on requires a capital, and at least 8 letters or numbers

    why not reset it using the same password with just adding a 1 at the end. then every 60 days just increment it by 1.

    • steveccnv says:

      His thinking isn’t that advanced 😉

    • herdfan says:

      I’ve done something similar. But when they are all different, and they all have to be changed, and usually that happens at the worst possible moment. I forgot the one where I have a token that gives me a code I have to enter on top of remembering the password. lol

  13. D says:

    Im no mental health expert but with M13 a few times i did get seriously worried about if maybe he was bi-polar or something or just so over stressed he came unraveled. Some of his rants did not seem healthy to me. Very great guy, extremely football knowledgeable, good eye for scouting, just occasionally just seemed like he snapped or something. I did hear about the MikeE hacking rant thing briefly but wasnt there to fully experience or know much more than who said it and about whom.

  14. D says:

    Mike E. says:
    June 10, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    I have one program that we use that we have to change the password every 60 days. It’s effing ridiculous, and yes, of course that on requires a capital, and at least 8 letters or numbers. Plus, you can’t ever use a previous password. WTF are they so afraid of? No one, and I mean NO ONE wants to get into that database. It drives me crazy!
    Most business have this, mines same, except we have to have 10 characters, and cant use anything that has been used in the past 5 times changed. I think it also wont allow dictionary words either.

  15. D says:

    You want uber security and one that makes sure you are you, you could use password hash algorithms. I have seen ones that run via app and they basically create passwords off your base password and these passwords are only valid for 30 seconds, before it moves on and rehashes it. You run the hash algorithm via app on your phone and it tells you what the password will be for the next 30 seconds. The app itself is bound to that account and has the key for producing the hash value, so only the person with that installation of that program and entering the password valid for that 30 seconds in time will be able to get in.

    • steveccnv says:

      We use something like that at work, it sucks. Do you want to try to remember this password F0r63tA80ut1t or J39$%#p$

      • D says:

        Thats the beauty of it you dont have to remember, every 30 seconds its different, but it can be a bitch to type it in before the 30 seconds runs out.

      • D says:

        Cant tell the first one is forgetaboutit, what was the second one lol i wasnt leet literate enough to decipher that one

  16. D says:

    Mike E. says:
    June 10, 2015 at 5:05 pm
    Hopefully for the very last time, M13 accused me/us of hacking into his twitter account to get some info, or something to that effect. No offense to M, but that was about as silly a thing as he’s ever said.
    Mike he should have known it wasnt you, you literally just found out twitter wasnt really a bird that delivered messages to people just a few months ago. Old people are so tech handicapped!

  17. D says:

    You people that travel home in the 4-5pm CST hour, suck….

  18. steveccnv says:

    Here’s another example of the national media writing out of their asses

  19. Rockphin says:

    Yay! The Dolphins skipped practice today to pitch in for the community by cleanung up / fixing up an elementary school. How generous and altruistic of the team…..



  20. Tim Knight says:

    Rock, I think the reason Philbin chose a team comradery building day to give back to the community is because they had two really good practices the last two days.

  21. wyoming85 says:

    Andrew Abramson ‏@AbramsonPBP · 13m13 minutes ago
    #Dolphins sign DT C.J. Mosley, waive Kamal Johnson

    • Tim Knight says:

      I never really thought K. Johnson would make the team and the staff probably said let’s see if we can upgrade our depth. I’m not sure Mosely is a lock to make the team, but he should improve the competition.

      He should stop disabling smoke detectors to get high though. LOL

  22. son of a son of a shula says:

    Did Kamal come in all fat or something?
    Quick ouster for a guy they seemed to like so much last year.

    • Tim Knight says:

      When was he ever in the mix? Francis and A. Johnson were in the mix until Francis went down in the PS and A. Johnson went down during the RS.

  23. Mike E. says:


    Exactly – I’m too old to be a hacker, and again, no offense to M13, but there is enough information available on the web that I wouldn’t need to steal any info from him, as knowledgeable as he may be.

  24. Tim Knight says:

    I don’t know why but Mitchell seems to get a lot of flack from the outside as if he’s a chump at DT who needs to be replaced. He’s a good player with a great motor who also penetrates the backfield and chases plays from behind. I don’t think we’re looking to replace him at all, I think we’re looking for superior depth.

  25. naplesfan2010 says:

    Message Sent and Received: WIN NOW!!
    Miami’s run defense ranked 24th of 32 teams last year, allowing 121 rushing yards per game.

    Detroit, featuring Suh and Mosley, was No. 1 in the NFL, giving up just 69 rushing yards per game.

    • Tim Knight says:

      We were 8th against the run and 2nd against the pass after 10 games before the wheels came off. We finished 24th and 6th respectively.

  26. son of a son of a shula says:

    I suppose that was more of an opportunistic signing rather than a need signing. They must have figured why not get the guy Suh paired with to be the front of the best run stopping D in the league.

  27. naplesfan2010 says:

    When you think about it, after Suh and Mitchell, the first man off the bench for us was either 1) a rook, 2) on the Practice squad last year, or 3) on injured reserve after subbing on a DL that got gashed bad.

    So this signing gives us a 10-yr vet who has started lots of games in lots of different systems and who has started a game in the playoffs.

    Much more steady of a guy to help stop Shady and whatever bellicheat has cooked up.

  28. Tim Knight says:

    Son, are you sure K. Johnson made the 53 or did he go on IR before the final cut downs?

    • son of a son of a shula says:

      No I misremembered* I thought he did but he went on IR before the season started.

      * Clemems

  29. naplesfan2010 says:

    I’d prefer that we keep 5 DT and 4 DE since C McCain can play some DE in certain situations.
    I think Drew is a year away and could be hidden on the PS. TooTall Dieke is a project at best.

  30. naplesfan2010 says:

    You know they had to ask Suh about Moseley. Suh could have said no, so he must have said hell yeah this guy can play. I think it is great that they improve a position where we struggled last year. Losing our 5th best out of 6 DT to get a guy who was part of the #1 run D in the NFL is a no-brainer.

  31. Tim Knight says:

    If you look at roster breakdowns, we could easily do this:
    9 DL, 6-7 LBs (2 and 1 play in nickel and dime) and 9-10 DBs. 25-26 players

    Add 3 STs guys 3 with LS, K and P

    9-10 OL, 3-4 TE, 2 QB, 4 RB and 6 WR

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