FOLLOWING PERFECTION: THE 1973 MIAMI DOLPHINS

By: Randy Campbell (OLD DOLFAN)

 

GAME 15: Cincinnati @ Miami, Dec. 23, 1973

THE AFC SEMI-FINALS

 

The Miami Dolphins opponents in the 1973 AFC Semi-Final Playoff Game were the 10-4 Cincinnati Bengals, winners of the AFC Central Division. The Bengals had closed the regular season by winning their last six games. The streak included a 27-0 thrashing of the eventual NFC Champions, the Minnesota Vikings.

 

vern_den_herder_1973_12_23

 

The Bengals were led by quarterback Ken Anderson, one of the NFL’s most accurate passers. His top receivers were future Hall-of-Famer Charlie Joiner and Isaac Curtis, who led all rookie receivers in 1973. The running game was paced by AFC Rookie of the Year “Boobie” Clark who, like Miami’s Larry Little, was an alum of Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach.

 

Unquestionably, the best known name associated with this franchise wasn’t even a player. Instead, the most famous member of the Bengals was the team’s legendary head coach and general manager, Paul Brown. Paul Brown was the greatest innovator in the history of football. PERIOD! Brown was the first coach to use game films to scout opponents. He also used college game films to scout college football talent prior to the draft. Brown was the first to hire a full time staff of assistants and the first to test players on their knowledge of the playbook. He also gave intelligence tests to prospective draftees long before the Wonderlic Test was created. Brown invented the modern face mask plus a system of hand signals to call plays and defensive formations. He also developed a system of messenger guards who would bring in each offensive play from the sidelines. The passer’s protective pocket and the draw play were also Paul Brown creations, as was the short pass system we now call the West Coast Offense. Brown taught this offense to one of his assistants, Bill Walsh, who would go on to use it with great success in San Francisco with stars Joe Montana and Jerry Rice.

 

At age 24, two years after graduating from Miami of Ohio, Brown was hired to be head coach of Massillon (Ohio) high school, the very high school he had quarterbacked just six years earlier. After an ordinary 5-4-1 first season, Brown’s Massillon Tigers would go an astounding 75-4-2 over the next eight seasons, including a 35 game winning streak!! In 1939, Massillon built a 20,000 seat stadium, naming it after Brown.

 

6708d82cc9a5e3b1e0abc6fb18368abf38d7c02d

 

In 1941 Brown was hired to coach the Ohio State Buckeyes. In 1942, he led Ohio State to their first national championship. In 1944, Brown was commissioned as a Navy first lieutenant. His job? Coach the Great Lakes Naval Training Station’s football team (which he led to a 9-2-1 record) against a schedule of major, established, football programs.

 

After the war, Brown took over the Cleveland All-American Football Conference franchise. The owner, Arthur McBride, named them the “Browns,” in honor of their highly successful coach. Brown would win all four league titles in the four year existence of the AAFC, losing only a total of four games in those four years.

 

In 1950, the Browns, Colts and the ’49ers of the now defunct AAFC were absorbed by the NFL. Amazingly, Brown’s team WON THE NFL TITLE IN THEIR VERY FIRST SEASON IN THE NFL!! They would go on to reach the NFL title game THEIR FIRST SIX YEARS IN THE NFL, winning three and losing three title games! In all, the Browns had made it to a record 10 straight title games, counting their four prior years in the AAFC! And Paul Brown had become the first coach ever to win a college football national title and an NFL championship!

 

In 1961 advertising executive Art Modell purchased the Browns. Paul Brown no longer had sole control of football decisions. A furious Brown was fired by Modell not long after Modell had agreed to extend Brown’s contract for another seven seasons! For the next seven years Paul Brown was paid $82,500 a season by Modell while he checked-out other coaching possibilities.

 

His search ended with the new AFL expansion Cincinnati Bengals, a franchise he invested a large sum of money in. The Bengals took the field in 1968, just two years after the Miami Dolphins, the AFL’s first expansion franchise. By 1973, Paul Brown had this Bengals franchise in the chase for the Super Bowl.

 

It was a bright, cool, 55 degree day in the historic Orange Bowl. Nearly 75,000 screaming fans crammed into every nook and cranny of the old stadium. Even the temporary seats installed in the east end zone were completely packed. A deafening roar greeted the white clad Dolphins as they jogged out on the field. It was PLAYOFF TIME and I was as thrilled as I could be to witness football history!!

 

Head coach Don Shula believed his team would have great success running the football. The Bengals’ D-Line was a bit undersized. And they lacked quality depth. Shula also believed Miami’s running game eventually would open up opportunities for the passing game, in general, and for Paul Warfield, in particular. Warfield, of course, was fresh off his spectacular four touchdown performance in the first half of Miami’s blow-out win over the Detroit Lions.

 

The Dolphins won the toss and elected to receive. Starting from the 20, Griese employed a variety of running plays. Csonka ran inside. Morris ran outside. Then, from the Bengals’ 13 yard line, Griese spotted an open Paul Warfield. Warfield cradled the precious touchdown pass and the Dolphins had a quick 7-0 advantage.

 

The Bengals Horst Muhlmann connected on a 24-yard field goal, narrowing the margin to 7-3. Again, Muhlmann’s kickoff went through the end zone, forcing Miami to start from their 20.

 

No problem. Just as before, Miami marched down the field. Csonka, Kiick and Morris were having a field day behind Miami’s awesome offensive line. From the one yard line, Larry Csonka scored easily, ending a second long drive and giving the Dolphins a 14-3 lead after one quarter.

 

Cincinnati’s defense stopped Miami on their third drive. So Griese decided to take to the air on his fourth series. A 48-yard bomb to PAUL WARFIELD brought the Orange Bowl crowd to an absolute frenzy! Two plays later, Mercury Morris scooted in for a touchdown and the Dolphins seemed in complete control leading 21-3.

 

mercury_morris_1973_12_23

 

Again, Miami’s “No Name Defense” stopped the Bengals in their tracks. After a punt, Griese took his offense onto the field. I was thinking, “One more touchdown will put this game away!” Well, I got my touchdown. Problem was, the WRONG TEAM SCORED THE TOUCHDOWN!! A Bob Griese pass was picked-off by Cincy’s Neal Craig and returned 45 yards for a touchdown. The Bengals’ bench exploded as they finally had something to cheer about. Even Paul Brown was smiling!

 

After stopping Miami’s next drive, the Bengals confidently moved across midfield. Muhlmann’s long 46 yard field goal narrowed the gap to 21-13! On the ensuing kickoff, Mercury Morris FUMBLED!! Another Muhlmann 3-pointer made the score 21-16 at halftime. The Orange Bowl was in a state of shock!!

 

Quarterback Ken Anderson confidently led his Bengals out onto the polyturf surface for the first possession of the third quarter. But another Anderson, Miami’s Dick Anderson, had other plans. He intercepted the Bengal quarterback’s pass near midfield and returned it all the way to the Cincy 28 yard line!!

 

Quickly the Dolphins moved the ball to the seven. Griese’s perfect slant pass to tight end Jim Mandich was good for a touchdown! Miami had regained the momentum and now led 28-16! Late in the third stanza, Garo Yepremian lined-up a very long 50-yard field goal. Morrall’s hold was perfect. The kick was in the air. It was GO-O-O-OD!!! Out came the white hankies as Dolfans throughout the Orange Bowl celebrated a 31-16 lead at the end of the third quarter!!

 

The fourth quarter mostly consisted of Miami running plays which ate up lots of time. First down followed first down. The clock kept moving. A Yepremian 46 yard field goal expanded the lead to 34-16.

 

jake_scott_1973_12_01

 

One final stop by Miami’s defense put an end to it. The Dolphins had easily defeated Paul Brown’s Bengals for their 23rd consecutive win in the historic Orange Bowl!

 

Miami registered a playoff record 27 first downs. Csonka, Kiick and Morris combined for 241 yards rushing ON EXACTLY 50 RUNNING PLAYS behind Miami’s dominant offensive line. Throw in 159 yards passing by Griese and the Dolphins had exactly 400 yards total offense to the Bengals 194 total yards.

 

Paul Brown passed away in 1991, 24 years after his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton. His son, Mike Brown, succeeded him as club president. In 2000, the Bengals opened a new football facility on the banks of the Ohio River. They named it Paul Brown Stadium.

 

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259 Responses to FOLLOWING PERFECTION: THE 1973 MIAMI DOLPHINS

  1. D says:

    Rockphin says:
    September 15, 2015 at 4:17 pm
    son of a son of a shula says:
    September 15, 2015 at 9:49 am

    Jacksonville is the ONLY city in Duval County, it encompasses the entire county.

    ALMOST TRUE, but not quite

    On October 1, 1968, the government of Duval County was consolidated with the government of the city of Jacksonville. The Duval County cities of Atlantic Beach, Baldwin, Jacksonville Beach, and Neptune Beach, are not included in the corporate limits of Jacksonville, and maintain their own municipal governments. All services that would normally be provided by a county government are provided by the city of Jacksonville.
    Reply
    The Flying Pig says:
    September 15, 2015 at 4:19 pm
    I have a lo more Jacksonville facts for you tomorrow

    Did you know they eat puppies?
    Reply
    ————————————————————————
    Do you realize they are the second place in the world to deny their prodigal son his riteful place among them…. Hint: Mike’s people did it first.

    🙂

  2. Al in MIA says:

    http://www.miamidolphins.com/news/article-1/INSIDE-THE-NUMBERS-Dolphins-Opener-Sets-Many-Milestones/4105dc05-e4f5-497d-b2e3-fe276bcfaa8b

    INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Dolphins Opener Sets Many Milestones
    Posted 1 hour ago
    Alain Poupart Lead Writer Dolphins.com

    In his first game in a Dolphins uniform, punter Matt Darr set a franchise opening-day record with a 54.3 gross average. The previous record was 54.0 yards, set by Brandon Fields in 2013.

    • Just how impressive was Darr’s debut? His average was tied for second-highest ever — based on minimum of four punts — on opening day for a rookie punter (with Minnesota’s Chris Kluwe in 2005). The only better performance was the 55.1-yard average posted by Rodney Williams of the New York Giants in 2001.

    • Jordan Cameron also made a quick impression in his first game with the Dolphins. His 18.3 receiving average (73 yards on four catches) tied with Randy McMichael in 2002 for highest ever for a tight end in his first game in a Miami uniform. It also tied McMichael’s 2002 game for second-highest receiving average for a Dolphins tight end on opening day, behind only the 24.3 average (73 yards on three catches) by Keith Jackson in 1993.

    • As mentioned right after the game, Jarvis Landry’s punt return was the third in Dolphins history on opening day, along with those of Marcus Thigpen (2012 at Houston) and Tommy Vigorito (1982 at N.Y. Jets). It’s one of 48 punt returns for touchdowns in the NFL since 1970.
    ———–
    More stats in there if you want to read the rest of it via the link provided….

  3. Mike E. says:

    I knew D was a conflator!!!

  4. D says:

    I have been trying to see if we had brought back Gills to see if we could re-sign him but i just saw that it looks like the Flacons already picked him up.

  5. Rockphin says:

    Al in MIA says:
    September 15, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    Agreed. Rockphin probably wishes he was there LOL.

    WTF Al? I am a non-violent drunken shouter. The worse you will get from me is flying spittle as I scream in your face to stand the fuck up and make some noise!

  6. Rockphin says:

    The Flying Pig says:
    September 15, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    fish bodily fluids are full of protein

    So are mine! Want a mouth full?

  7. steveccnv says:

    We played the worst of the 4 teams in our division, but we’re the only team in the AFC East with a road win, so I’d say we’re in 1st by ourselves 😉

  8. Try Pod says:

    What’s this I hear about jetlag and moustaches? And when did Ron Jeremy start coaching the ‘9ers?

  9. steveccnv says:

    wyoming85 says:

    September 15, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    Greg Likens ‏@GregLikens 3m3 minutes ago
    #Dolphins Week 2 depth chart has been released. With LaMike James being waived, Jarvis Landry is now listed as the 1st-team PR & KR
    ———————————
    I don’t know why they wouldn’t put Landry out there, he’s a playmaker, and there’s plenty of depth at WR, if he needs a breather. I’m sure the fight with LaMike had to do with his sucking and Landry wanting to get the duties back. He’s young, let him play.

  10. finfanrob says:

    ‘GOOD JOB HERD!!!! YOU DA GAL!!’

    oh look darlin you reached GAL status

  11. steveccnv says:

    Strictly signed to be a returner.

    The Miami Dolphins announced today that the team has signed running back Raheem Mostert from the Philadelphia Eagles practice squad.

    The 5-10, 195-pound Mostert joins the Dolphins from the Eagles practice squad. He initially signed with Philadelphia as an undrafted college free agent on May 2, 2015 prior to being waived on Sept. 5 and joined their practice squad on Sept. 6. He played collegiately at Purdue where he set the school record for total kickoff return yards (2,289 on 88 returns) during his four-year Boilermaker career, while also seeing time as a running back and receiver. As a senior, he rushed 93 times for 529 yards and three touchdowns, while catching 18 passes for 116 yards. Born April 9, 1992, Mostert attended New Smyrna Beach (Fla.) High School.

    Just seems like an odd signing, they should’ve put Gillislee on the original 53 like I wanted. It also goes to show you how much running they plan on doing, or lack there of.

    • Al in MIA says:

      Last sentence is what I was thinking. Lazor is missing the key part of Chip Kelly’s scheme and that is tempo + an elite receiving RB.

    • steveccnv says:

      This kid Mustard is a burner, they said he was the fastest player in college football, track man, made the 4×100 relay team.

  12. Al in MIA says:

    I don’t think I’m going to be watching the game. My friends are going to be pool side i’m sure given its the last day we will be in Vegas. It’s going to be a 4:25 eastern start so thats what, 1:25 time in Vegas…I’ll see but highly unlikely. I wish it were a 1pm Eastern game to be honest…i’d like to get up and watch that at 10am while devouring breakfast. Anyway, it would be cool to meet you up at some point. I got to figure out what exactly im going to be doing. Send Mike an email to the one he does for Ask Mike questions….He can give you my info or me yours and vice versa. I’ll be getting to Vegas next Thursday around mid day and leaving Monday mid day.

    • steveccnv says:

      Just send me something at boldreply@gmail.com, it’s a garbage email I use.

      If you want pizza and beer while you’re in town, there’s a casino just south of Flamingo on Koval, walking distance from the Cosmo, they have 2 for 1 pizza on Thursdays and Sunday something similar. In the casino they have a brewery $2.25 for pints, last yr and the 20 yrs before that the beers were a dollar.

  13. Al in MIA says:

    From an Eagles outlet yesterday:

    The Purdue alumnus finished the preseason as the NFL’s leader in yards from scrimmage and total yards. Mostert carried the ball 39 times for a total of 157 yards (4.0 average). He also recorded 14 receptions for 194 yards (13.9 average). Mostert returned five kickoffs for a total of 162 yards (32.4), with a long of 67 yards. The Eagles opted to keep former Oregon Ducks running back Kenjon Barner as the fourth running back on the 53-man roster over Mostert.

    It’s a shame for the Eagles that they weren’t able to keep Mostert around, but this is obviously a good opportunity for the undrafted rookie free agent.

    http://www.bleedinggreennation.com/2015/9/14/9325497/dolphins-raheem-mostert-eagles-practice-squad-running-back-purdue

  14. Al in MIA says:

    Damn, I put up that article which mentions that Darr had the best opening day punt average in Dolphins history (2nd highest ever on min 4 punts in NFL open day history) and not even a response from Stanger LOL.

  15. steveccnv says:

    Al in MIA says:

    September 15, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    In other NFL news :/

    http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2015/09/15/disturbing-video-shows-49ers-fans-beating-vikings-fan/
    ——————————-

    The last game I went to in SF, the Fins got shut out. I was wearing my Dolphins jersey, and the car next to us in the parking lot were 49ers fans, the guy started giving me shit, until my wife with a 49ers jersey turned around. During the game the guy sitting next to me went to the bathroom and said a Fins fan is getting his ass kicked in there.

  16. finfanrob says:

    4 oclock game??? damn that sucks. i hate 4pm games. but hey, it gives joe 3 more hours to game plan. ha ha ha ha

  17. ocalahowie says:

    Didnt they kill a Dodgers fan a while back or was it the other way around.
    Them Cal Fans are F’D UP
    and I suew as hell wouldnt go near Oakland
    Been there, not a very nice place

  18. finfanrob says:

    ocalahowie says:
    September 15, 2015 at 7:07 pm

    Didnt they kill a Dodgers fan a while back or was it the other way around.

    yeah, but it was a mercy killing. he was dodger fan.

    (and i have no idea if they did or didnt)

  19. ocalahowie says:

    LOL
    that was messed up but as I start to recall I dont think the guy died
    Bad shit either way
    The worst we would do is tip a Jets fan over in the port a john
    Buddy of mine was in on that once after a loss

  20. ocalahowie says:

    Nightly Update
    Howie 38-13 MIA
    Wyo 28-13 MIA
    Trypod21-17MIA
    Toba 41-13 MIA
    Piggy 23-10MIA
    Stang 21-7 MIA
    Cav 24-13 MIA
    Rock 31-13 MIA
    BrianNY27-10MIA
    UK 23-17 MIA
    Ken 30-21 MIA
    Old 20-6 MIA
    MikeE 23-20 MIA
    ALinMIA 24-6MIA
    GO PHINS!!!

  21. CavalierKong says:

    I think you guys are talking about Brian Stow the Giants fan than was beat up by a couple of Dodgers “fans” (just thugs wearing the jerseys). He wasn’t killed but was in a coma and his life was irrevocably changed. Limited brain functionality and physical capabilities. Fucking scumbags beating on people at games should be shot on site.

  22. finfanrob says:

    ‘The worst we would do is tip a Jets fan over in the port a john
    Buddy of mine was in on that once after a loss’

    why? what the fuck did a port of john ever do to you that you would get a jet fan all over it

  23. finfanrob says:

    CavalierKong says:
    September 15, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    ‘Fucking scumbags beating on people at games should be shot on site.’

    or forced to be jet fans

  24. steveccnv says:

    Al in MIA says:

    September 15, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    Don’t understand why a safety would only be worth 1 point. A safety has always been worth 2 points but I guess the committee is stupid. It gives the team attempting the PAT a chance to kick the ball out of the endzone if theres a fumble and not try and recover it.
    ————————————
    The reason why it isn’t worth 2 pts is, because then it would be worth the same as a TD or good try.

  25. steveccnv says:

    For a multi-billion dollar industry the NFL should be ashamed of their reports/coach or player interview process. How hard would it be to put a mike in front of the guy asking the question?

  26. finfanrob says:

    steveccnv says:
    September 15, 2015 at 8:18 pm

    For a multi-billion dollar industry the NFL should be ashamed of their reports/coach or player interview process. How hard would it be to put a mike in front of the guy asking the question?

    it isnt hard. i for one am grateful. does anyone really want to hear what omar has to ask

  27. BoulderPhinfan says:

    This was week 1. A lot teams had a slow start with their offense. I’d hoped for more than 10 points from the offense game 1 but oh well. Lets see what they do against Jax.

    James Walker ‏@JamesWalkerNFL Sep 14
    Ryan Tannehill, #Dolphins’ offense show issues similar to 2014 http://es.pn/1KlsU5J “-Was the opener an aberration?

    • steveccnv says:

      Crap that like really piss me off. The NFL is a QB driven league, RT is night/day compared to last yr, so enough on these last yr BS comments, they mean nothing. We all expected a blowout, Vegas didn’t. The Vegas casinos took a big loss, because Miami and GB covered.

    • steveccnv says:

      And you’re O is always going to score less when your D/STs scores. For one you O losses a possession, and second they don’t have to score in the 4th when leading.

      The biggest problem with the O was the D couldn’t get off the field in the first half.

      Some games just go like that, if you win your O did enough period.

  28. Rockphin says:

    finfanrob says:
    September 15, 2015 at 5:35 pm

    ‘GOOD JOB HERD!!!! YOU DA GAL!!’

    oh look darlin you reached GAL status
    Reply

    Rob, the fact that YOU, the character who keeps women chained to your couch keep trying to paint my interaction with Herd as chauvinist of misogynistic is laughable. Bark up another tree.

  29. finfanrob says:

    ‘Bark up another tree.’

    shouldnt that be ‘turn over another rock’

    and i only keep a hulk chained up now……darlin’

  30. Rockphin says:

    Steve, the frustrating thing for me was I kind of agreed. It was NOT a good outing for Tannehill. He made way too many mental mistakes. I can think of two throws that should have been interceptions. He wasn’t throwing accurately either. his receivers did a lot of stretching to get the ball. I saw better, in very limited reps in preseason but I was hoping to see an appreciable difference. I just didn’t.

  31. steveccnv says:

    Maybe the hero of the game should be LaMike, if he doesn’t fumble that kickoff, maybe Landry isn’t returning punts 😉

  32. Rockphin says:

    Steve I get it. Brees, Wilson, Kaepernick, Bradford, Newton, Luck, Manning, Manning & Flacco all had lower passer ratings than Tanny. I just saw the same old drive stalling stuff and got that feeling. I didn’t like it. (the feeling) We won. that was a great thing. It just a let down after everyone hyped him up this off season. I hope he stays in the top 10 this year. (he is currently #14 in passer rating)

    • steveccnv says:

      I think we came out over confident. Everyone was so fired up to this yr started, but they came out and got out fundamentaled. Surely we were outcoached, at least in the first half. Philbin made his adjustments at the half and Wash. was done.

      It’s tough to have a 50% roster turnover and come out in sync.

  33. The Flying Pig says:

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