FOLLOWING PERFECTION: The 1973 Miami Dolphins

73 Dolphins

By: Randy Campbell (OLD DOLFAN)

1973 dolphins logoGAME 2: MIAMI @ OAKLAND, Sept. 23, 1973raiders


The Miami Dolphins 21-13 win over San Francisco the first week of the ’73 season raised several questions. Foremost among them was “What happened to the offense?”  After three quarters the Dolphins had scored just six points.  Only AFTER the oppressive heat forced several 49er starters to the sidelines did Miami finally score 15 fourth quarter points to win the game.

Head coach Don Shula knew there was no chance a heat wave would come to his team’s rescue when Miami flew to California to play an outstanding Oakland Raiders team.  Shula had to find a way to ramp up his offense as they prepared to meet one of the NFL’s best defenses.

The Oakland Raiders were the eighth and final charter member of the fledgling American Football League.  In late 1959 managing partner F. Wayne Valley hired ex-Navy coach Eddie Erdelatz to be the Raiders first head coach.  Oakland finished 6-8  in their debut season.  Ownership conflicts prevented Oakland from signing ANY of their top college draft picks in 1961.  (Most of those picks signed with the rival NFL during this era of fierce competition between the two leagues.)  When Oakland lost their first two games in the ’61 season by a combined score of 99-0, Valley fired Erdelatz and elevated O-Line coach Marty Feldman to head coach.  Feldman led Oakland to a miserable 2-12 record.  His successor, Red Conkright, presided over an awful 1-13 team in 1962.  Oakland management was desperate.  In 1963, little known Al Davis, age 33, was hired to be both the GM and head coach of the Raiders.  Davis immediately installed his “vertical game” passing attack, an aggressive passing strategy developed earlier by Chargers’ head coach (and future Hall-of-Famer) Sid Gillman.  Under Davis, Oakland improved immediately to a 10-4 record after going 3-25 the previous two years.  Davis was voted the AFL’s Coach of the Year in 1963.  The Raiders slipped to 5-7-2 in 1964 but rebounded to 8-5-1 in 1965.  Davis’ promising coaching career came to an abrupt end when he was named Commissioner of the AFL in early 1966.

Davis was instrumental in bringing about the AFL-NFL merger.  When the deal was finalized, Davis returned to the Raiders as a part owner (he bought 10 per cent of the team for $18,000) and head of football operations.

 In 1967, Davis’ hand-picked coaching successor, John Rauch, led Oakland to a 13-1 record.  They destroyed the Houston Oilers 40-7 in the AFL Championship Game to advance to Super Bowl II in the historic Orange Bowl.  On January 14, 1968, Rauch’s Raiders fell to Vince Lombardi’s Packers 33-14 in what was Lombardi’s last game with Green Bay.

 The Oakland Raider teams of the 1970’s were thoroughly dominant (and nasty) for much of the decade.  They produced 8 Hall of Fame inductees plus a Hall of Fame coach in John Madden.  Oakland made the NFL playoffs in 1970 (where they defeated Shula’s Dolphins 21-14).  From 1972 through 1977 the Raiders made the playoffs for SIX CONSECUTIVE SEASONS.  The highlight was the 13-1 1976 team.  After defeating New England in the AFC semi-final game, they defeated their arch-nemesis, the Pittsburgh Steelers, to advance to Super Bowl XI.  The Raiders led the Minnesota Vikings 16-0 at halftime and coasted to a 32-14 victory, claiming their first Super Bowl title.

 Oakland’s reputation for dirty play went to a new level in the 1978 preseason when Patriots’ wide receiver Daryl Stingley was paralyzed for life by a hit from Raiders FS Jack Tatum.  However, a critical loss by Oakland to the Miami Dolphins late in the season kept the Raiders out of the playoffs.

 In 1980, the Raiders, under 2nd year coach Tom Flores, advanced to Super Bowl XV where they easily defeated the Eagles (quarterbacked by Ron Jawaorski) 27-10.  Two years later, Al Davis moved the team to the L.A. Coliseum after the courts ruled the NFL was wrong to deny his move.  In 1983, the Los Angeles Raiders destroyed the Washington Redskins 38-9 to claim their THIRD Super Bowl Championship.

 In 1989 Al Davis opened negotiations with the city of Oakland to return the Raiders to al davisthat city. In mid-1995, a deal was reached.  This time the NFL did not stand in Davis’ way.  Since 1996, this franchise has again been known as the Oakland Raiders.

All Davis passed away during the 2011 season, ending one of the most colorful, litigious and controversial careers in NFL history.  His signature phrase, “Just Win, Baby,” has become a registered trademark of his bad-boy Oakland franchise.

 On Sept. 23, 1973, the Dolphins met the Raiders NOT at Oakland-Alameda Coliseum (as wrongly reported in some inaccurate renditions) but in the University of California’s Memorial Stadium in Berkeley.  Upgrades and repairs at the Raiders’ home stadium forced shulathis change of venue.  It was bright, sunny, and 62 degrees at kickoff.  A sellout crowd of boisterous Raider fans was waiting for Miami.  And Don Shula was worried.  His offense struggled on opening day against San Francisco.  And All-Pro wideout Paul Warfield was unavailable due to an injury.  New offensive coordinator Bill McPeak (who replaced Howard Schnellenberger when Howard became the new head coach of the Colts) knew he’d have to pull a few rabbits out of the hat to confuse and fool the highly rated Raiders’ defense.

 Oakland decided to pound the football time after time after time.  They ate up the clock with long drives on several occasions.  Their first drive ate up over half of the first quarter.  It ended at Miami’s 5 yard line when 46 year old placekicker and back-up QB George Blanda booted a 12 yard field goal.  (At this point in NFL history, the goal posts were still on the goal line, NOT the end line as today).  Oakland stuffed Miami’s subsequent drive and the opening quarter ended with Oakland leading 3-0.

raiders Raider running backs Marv Hubbard and Charlie Smith took turns running the football behind future Hall of Fame linemen Jim Otto and Art Shell.  After another long drive, a penalty forced Oakland to attempt a long field goal.  Blanda’s 46 yard field goal made the score 6-0 at half time.  Miami’s offense was dead in the water.

 Shula and McPeak made some half time adjustments.  More flare passes were called for the Dolphin running backs, especially Mercury Morris and his back-up, Charlie Leigh.  McPeak hoped this might free up wide receiver Marlin Briscoe and tight end Jim Mandich for some intermediate passes from Griese.

 But Oakland’s ground game kept Miami’s offense off the field for most of the second half.blanda  Another time-consuming drive engineered by QB Darryl LaMonica ended at the Miami 12 yard line.  Blanda’s 19 yard chip shot expanded Oakland’s lead to 9-0 after three quarters.

 Miami was having little luck with their running game.  Morris would run for just 48 yards; Csonka for just 47.  So Griese switched to the passing game.  But the Dolphins were forced to punt again.  One final time Oakland marched down the field, using the pass sparingly.  The drive ended at Miami’s 3 yard line.  Blanda’s fourth field goal gave Oakland a seemingly insurmountable 12-0 advantage.

 With only 1:05 left, Griese completed a 28-yard touchdown pass to Jim Mandich.  But it was too little, too late.  Oakland ran out the clock

Head coach Don Shula and quaterback Bob Griese of the Miami Dolphins Sept. 23, 1973.  (Photo by Sporting News/Sporting News via Getty Images)

Head coach Don Shula and quaterback Bob Griese of the Miami Dolphins Sept. 23, 1973. (Photo by Sporting News/Sporting News via Getty Images)

and Miami’s 18-game winning streak was over.  The Raiders had won 12-7.  Raider nation was ecstatic!  On the day, Griese was 12 for 25 for just 90 yards.  And the ground game produced only 105 yards.  “Their offensive line was exceptional and their defensive line took away our running game,” said a disappointed Don Shula.  Left unsaid was the absence of Paul Warfield.  No crack-back blocks to spring the running backs.  And no double-teaming of Warfield by the defensive backs to free-up other Miami receivers.  It is a fact that during this two-year run, Miami was UNDEFEATED in games played by Paul Warfield.


 For the first time since Super Bowl VI (19 months ago) the Miami Dolphins had tasted defeat.  But better days were on the horizon.  The New England Patriots, a team Miami had dominated in 1972, were coming to town.

 The 1973 Miami Dolphins were now 1-1.


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

656 Responses to FOLLOWING PERFECTION: The 1973 Miami Dolphins

  1. Tim Knight says:

    Ken, a permanent neurological injury is a major mistake. I’d say the $4.5M was fair. The person’s life has changed forever and will always need healthcare assistance.

  2. Rockphin says:

    All I know is we need to win 10 games next year so we can have a “winning HC & QB”

  3. bat says:

    Rock … I like our QB and if Bazooka Joe wins 10 games I’ll be all on board with him as well ..unless we’re 10-4 and we lose the last two to blow the playoffs …lol

  4. wyoming85 says:

    A.J. Francis
    ✔ ‎@AJFrancis410
    The Navy Seals team training we just did is the hardest thing Ive ever done. If youre a Navy Seal you are a better man than me, no question.

    Walt Aikens
    ✔ ‎@Walt_Aikens
    Navy Seal training was no joke! Salute to those men and women that went through it! Great team bonding/building experience! #Hooyah #finsup

  5. bat says:

    What are ding fries anyway … and how do you know when they’re done?

  6. getterdone says:

    the FU blog!

  7. wyoming85 says:

    They tried to sell them a dung fries but that didn’t go over very well! 😉

  8. getterdone says:

    Bears waived QB Pat Devlin, TE Jacob Maxwell, and K Jeremiah Detmer.
    Devlin lasted just over a month in Chicago. His “career” has about run its course.
    Bears signed RB Daniel Thomas, formerly of the Dolphins.
    “Fumbling Dan” finds a home after participating at Bears minicamp as a tryout. The Bears had little-to-no experienced depth behind Matt Forte. Thomas has a career 3.6 YPC to go with 13 TDs and six fumbles. The former second-round pick would do well to make it to final cuts with the Bears, where he’ll be competing with Jacquizz Rodgers and youngsters Jeremy Langford and Ka’Deem Carey.

  9. Tim Knight says:

    The pitching matchup tonight for the Mets/Blue Jays is Colon vs. Dickey, LOL

  10. getterdone says:

    Andrew Abramson ✔ @AbramsonPBP
    #Dolphins last joint practices before this season was 2004 in Houston. David Boston tore his patellar tendon in one of those practices.

  11. getterdone says:

    Jordan Cameron ✔ @jordancameron
    Still have sand in my eyes..ears as well as other parts of my body that I won’t mention. LITTLE glimpse of Navy Seal training. Respect.

  12. Mike E. says:


  13. getterdone says:

    WTG Oakland A’s. Today MLB, tomorrow coming to the NFL…..SMH!

  14. finfanrob says:

    naplesfan2010 says:
    June 18, 2015 at 1:01 pm

    If we go 12-4, half this blog will metaphorically suck gnu-nads out of sheer ecstasy.

    if that was all it took to go 12-4 i would be slurping on these every sunday

  15. finfanrob says:

    you kind of know things suck when that argument is over what side of the ball lost the game

    • Tim Knight says:

      When you lose 19-0 it’s pretty obvious. I never though of allowing 19 points as bad on defense. I guess only with us. LOL

  16. finfanrob says:


    i am getting a little sick of you. talk about someone not doing thier job. why the fuck is that wendys chick still alive. did you reach your quota on souls or something. come on, what the hell are you doing?

  17. steveccnv says:

    Rockphin says:

    June 18, 2015 at 4:21 pm

    Are you guys talking about 2013 still????????? Come ON! We lost to the bills EARLY last year 10-29 and then beat them in November 22 -9

    The article is about ’73, but these guys can’t talk about 2013?

  18. Tim Knight says:

    LOL @ Mike E

  19. steveccnv says:

    BUF DRIVE TOTALS: 6 plays, 15 yards, 1:39
    BUF DRIVE TOTALS: 6 plays, 68 yards, 1:46 FG 3-0
    BUF DRIVE TOTALS: 3 plays, 9 yards, 1:16
    BUF DRIVE TOTALS: 9 plays, 57 yards, 4:47 TD 10-0
    BUF DRIVE TOTALS: 8 plays, 45 yards, 3:55
    BUF DRIVE TOTALS: 3 plays, 2 yards, 0:19
    BUF DRIVE TOTALS: 6 plays, 28 yards, 2:50
    BUF DRIVE TOTALS: 3 plays, 5 yards, 1:52
    End of the 3rd qtr
    BUF DRIVE TOTALS: 19 plays, 92 yards, 9:16 FG 13-0

    Where’s the horrible play by the D, they played good enough to win, the O couldn’t get out of their own way. I don’t think too many guys on D are still giving 110% effort at that point, being worn out, because the O couldn’t stay on the field long enough to let the D catch their breath. Sure we still could’ve won, but that loss was on O, and has been every time RT has lost to Buffalo.

    But all that was in the past, we have a different team this yr.

    • Tim Knight says:

      That’s been my argument all along even right after the game.

      • Tim Knight says:

        Except I can’t put it all on RT either. The OL was overwlemed in that game. Something I said I was worried about going into the game. The Bills defense was very good, top pass rushing team and their offense had the #2 rushing attack. Both of those matchups ended up being a bad combo.

    • steveccnv says:

      The Bills O wasn’t very good in that game, they had a hard time finishing, even though their D gave them great field position.

  20. Mike E. says:


    Did they play as well as BUF’s defense? If you’re honest, the answer is NO, and that’s all that matters. They weren’t even in range of what BUF did to us. But alas, enough of this. It’s stale already.

    • steveccnv says:

      Mike, your logic is rather strange sometimes, after you said you weren’t good in math I can see why.

      The debate is who was worse the O or the D, if you say it’s the D, then enough said.

  21. Mike E. says:


    We (Mets) need to win a series or two on the road. We’ve been awful away from Citi

    • Phindog says:

      Have the Mets been awful because they can’t hit.. Or does the pitching suck ?

      • steveccnv says:

        Their pitching is worse than the ’72 A’s, so it sucks, and their hitting is worse than the ’84 Tigers, so it sucks too 😉

      • Tim Knight says:

        Their young starting pitching has the ability to be awesome and they have some decent bullpen guys. Defense and hitting is their Achilles heal. They can be brutal to watch at the plate at times.

    • Tim Knight says:

      I know and I feel this could come back to haunt us at the end of the season.

  22. Phindog says:

    I saw the Trans reference.. You just didn’t notice I was typing in my best Austin Powers accent.

    • steveccnv says:

      LOL, I didn’t pick that up! I see such bad grammar/spelling at times here and reading Omar and Walker on Twitter, that I attributed it to that.

  23. Mike E. says:


    It wasn’t nearly as bad as the offense, but it still wans’t good at all. Not considering the circumstances and the QB we were facing. Not good enough at all.

    • steveccnv says:

      We know both units played bad, but the O was overmatched and that’s what cost us the game. You could say Buff. D is great and their O sucks, so our D should’ve kept up with their D. In the end our inefficiencies on O did us in.

    • Tim Knight says:

      10-0 heading in the 4th quarter was plenty good enough on defense. Their QB had a QB rating under 70 so that wasn’t the issue at all. They did however have the 2nd ranked running game. Why is that left out and everyone focuses on Thad Lewis? I feel like I’m in the Bizarro World

  24. finfanrob says:


    i agree with you, last year they lost cause the offense sucked.

    mike e

    i agree with you, last year they lost cause the defense sucked

    now can the rest of the kindergarten class figure out the common factor.

  25. finfanrob says:

    and i not at all meant that condescending it does read as that, just was making a joke

  26. steveccnv says:

    Another fuckin’ cheats hack writer on Fox saying brady may get his suspension lifted. These people still think the terminology in the Well’s Report is the same as our legal system.

  27. Mike E. says:


    I think the Mets have very good pitching. They don’t have enough sluggers/hitters in the lineup. The Mets starting 5 is as good or better than most MLB pitching staffs, and they have a very good closer as well.

  28. steveccnv says:

    Dog, you got seats yet in SD?

  29. steveccnv says:

    From Walker:
    In the past, Tannehill had issues with inconsistent practices. He would follow up one or two good practices with a poor practice, which is pretty much what we’ve seen from Tannehill in games during his first three seasons.

    This offseason Tannehill was consistently good. He had three of his best practices in the final OTAs open to the media and the two-day minicamp. Tannehill’s work in the red zone this offseason was particularly impressive, as he routinely hit receivers Greg Jennings, Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker and tight end Jordan Cameron for touchdowns. The Dolphins were ranked No. 21 in red zone efficiency last season, and this is an area in which the offense must improve.
    I don’t remember hearing him struggle with anything during the OTAs, including the long ball, I think he may have come of age.

  30. naplesfan2010 says:

    Miller all on his own in spite of TERRIBLE run blocking…

  31. naplesfan2010 says:

    Satele and Pouncey both miss their blocks, Dallas Thomas makes his although the guy gets in on the tackle to help the Safety out late.

    • Tim Knight says:

      Pouncey was actually okay, Satele totally whiffed.

      • naplesfan2010 says:

        well ok is a good term for getting lost in the wash as Pounce certainly did not drive block anybody, but he did get in the way for a second there. Thomas slant-blocked his guy off the ball and provided Miller with a hole.

  32. Tim Knight says:

    There’s a reason Satele is no longer here and Pouncey now healthy is back at C. Satele – good guy, hard working pro, good athlete, but lacks functional strength. That’s why Sparano wanted to replace him. He was a big part of the problem on the OL last year.

  33. Phindog says:

    Steve.. My SD connection who hooks me up left the stadium so I’m working on tickets. I’ll be there, I never miss that game.

  34. Tim Knight says:

    Mike E, here we go again with the Mets’ bats sans the hot Lagares – 9 game hitting streak and a double off Dickey moments ago. Down 6-0 like last night.

  35. Tim Knight says:

    Naples, Satele missing his block caused Pouncey to choose between two DTs, but he got in the way for a second allowing Thomas to pull and gave Miller a chance. If Satele doesn’t whiff on that block, Miller’s run is 5+.

  36. Phindog says:

    Sorry Mike.. I wasn’t serious about the Mets. I just wanted to see You and Tim have a discussion about what sucks most about the Mets.. offense or defense…

  37. finfanrob says:

    aaannnddd steve wins the math contest

    just dont tell bat, i still like my soul.

  38. finfanrob says:

    oh shut up about your mets. when they have a small payroll and zero attendance but can compete the let me know.

  39. finfanrob says:

    Tim Knight says:
    June 18, 2015 at 8:58 pm

    Bat’s dislike of Philbin and Coyle taints his thinking. 🙂

    tim, bat doesnt dislike philbin and coyle, he just disiikes you.

  40. finfanrob says:

    Tim Knight says:
    June 18, 2015 at 8:59 pm

    They have both. LOL

    that they may, but unlike the Rays. i admit, i dont like the home plate umpire in baseball making up his own strike zone, that may have caused the rays their only chance at a world series. but it isnt like the nba officiating. which by the way i am still waiting on god to thank me for.

    but baseball needs to do something about the vast difference in teams able to buy talent. if the mlb was the nfl, no one could touch the rays pitching staff. price, shields, kaszmir, arhcer. pretty sure that would be dominant not to mention a few others i am sure i missed

    • Tim Knight says:

      The big spenders also mess up majorly by overpaying middle of the road talent. That’s why the quality trades have diminished. MLB guaranteed contracts kill teams.

      Team #1: Please pick up the remaining 3 years of his contract because of our horrible FA signing.
      Team #2: Please pick up the remaining 3 years of his contract and we have a deal.

      It’s totally fucked up.

  41. Tim Knight says:

    Mike E, is it surprising that Dickey is pitching a gem against us on the road? Ugh!!!!

  42. finfanrob says:

    Phindog says:
    June 18, 2015 at 9:23 pm

    So you are saying Dickey Pitching is better than Dickey Catching…..

    dont be silly littly doggy, ever one knows a dog can pitch and catch. we all know you dogs are not picky….i mean just ask her

  43. finfanrob says:

    Tim Knight says:
    June 18, 2015 at 9:22 pm

    The big spenders also mess up majorly by overpaying middle of the road talent. That’s why the quality trades have diminished. MLB guaranteed contracts kill teams.

    yep but if there was some cap they would stop that

  44. Tim Knight says:

    3 hits!

  45. wyoming85 says:

    College World Series ‏@cwsupdates · 33m33 minutes ago
    Headed to T4:
    TIED AT 3
    #LSUvsTCU #CWS

  46. wyoming85 says:

    OOPS TCU 4 to LSU 3

  47. steveccnv says:

    Rob, with the home plate umps calling balls and strikes, when the technology is there to do it perfectly is very telling about MLB being on the level or not, and sports in general for that matter.

    The NBA may be the worst though, unless you factor in all the calls the cheats get to the NFL on the levelness. The calls in the NBA Finals rivaled CWS in the ’90s when a pitch a foot out of the strike zone was often called a strike, or the strikes the Braves pitchers got in the ’90s. I kind of wonder though if the NFL and MLB mostly favored the Braves/cheats during the regular season, because the Braves struggled yr after yr in the post season, and before last yr the cheats didn’t win for quite a while.

Leave a Reply

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

You are commenting using your 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