Super Bowl VII was an American football game between the American Football Conference (AFC) champion Miami Dolphins and the National Football Conference (NFC) champion Washington Redskins to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 1972 season. The Dolphins defeated the Redskins by the score of 14–7, and became the first and still the only team in NFL history to complete a perfect undefeated season. They also remain the only Super Bowl team to be shut out in the second half and still win. The game was played on January 14, 1973, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, the second time the Super Bowl was played in that city. At kickoff the temperature was 84 °F (29 °C), making the game the warmest Super Bowl.
This was the Dolphins' second Super Bowl appearance after losing Super Bowl VI. They posted an undefeated 14–0 regular season record before defeating the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs. The Redskins were making their first Super Bowl appearance after posting an 11–3 regular season record and playoff victories over the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys. Despite being undefeated, the Dolphins were actually one point underdogs, largely based on the weakness of their regular season schedule.
Super Bowl VII was largely dominated by the Dolphins, and is the second lowest-scoring Super Bowl to date with a total of only 21 points (3 touchdown and 3 extra points), behind the 13–3 score in Super Bowl LIII. The only drama was during the final minutes of the game, in what was later known as "Garo's Gaffe". Miami attempted to cap off their 17–0 perfect season with a 17–0 perfect score shutout with a 42-yard field goal by Garo Yepremian, but instead the game and the season was jeopardized when his kick was blocked. Instead of falling on the loose ball, the Dolphins kicker picked it up, attempted a forward pass, but batted it in the air, and Redskins' cornerback Mike Bass (who was Garo's former teammate on the Detroit Lions years earlier) caught it and returned it 49 yards for a touchdown. This remains the longest period in a Super Bowl for one team to be shut out, as Washington was held scoreless until 2:07 remained in the fourth quarter.[note 1] Because of Garo's Gaffe, what was a Miami-dominated game became close, and the Dolphins ended up having to stop Washington's final drive for the tying touchdown as time expired.
Dolphins safety Jake Scott was named Most Valuable Player. He recorded two interceptions for 63 return yards, including a 55-yard return from the end zone during the 4th quarter. Scott became the second defensive player in Super Bowl history (after linebacker Chuck Howley in Super Bowl V) to earn a Super Bowl MVP award.
|Super Bowl VII|
|Date||January 14, 1973|
|Stadium||Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, California|
|MVP||Jake Scott, safety|
|Favorite||Redskins by 1|
|Current/Future Hall of Famers|
|Dolphins: Don Shula (coach), Nick Buoniconti, Larry Csonka, Bob Griese, Jim Langer, Larry Little, Paul Warfield|
Redskins: George Allen (coach), Chris Hanburger, Sonny Jurgensen, Charley Taylor
|National anthem||Little Angels of Holy Angels Church, Chicago|
|Coin toss||Tom Bell|
|Halftime show||Woody Herman, Andy Williams and the Michigan Marching Band|
|TV in the United States|
|Announcers||Curt Gowdy and Al DeRogatis|
|Nielsen ratings||42.7 |
(est. 53.32 million viewers)
|Cost of 30-second commercial||$88,000|
The NFL awarded Super Bowl VII to Los Angeles on March 21, 1972.
The Dolphins went undefeated during the season, despite losing their starting quarterback. In the fifth game of the regular season, starter Bob Griese suffered a fractured right leg and dislocated ankle. In his place, 38-year-old Earl Morrall, a 17-year veteran, led Miami to victory in their nine remaining regular season games, and was the 1972 NFL Comeback Player of the Year. Morrall had previously played for Dolphins head coach Don Shula when they were both with the Baltimore Colts, where Morrall backed up quarterback Johnny Unitas and started in Super Bowl III.
But Miami also had the same core group of young players who helped the team advance to the previous year's Super Bowl VI. (The only Dolphins starter in Super Bowl VII over the age of 30 was 32-year-old Nick Buoniconti.) The Dolphins still had a powerful running attack, spearheaded by running backs Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick, and Eugene "Mercury" Morris. (Morris, who in previous seasons had been used primarily as a kick returner, took over the starting halfback position from Kiick, who had been the starter the previous four years. The more-experienced Kiick, however, would start in Super Bowl VII.) Csonka led the team with 1,117 yards and six touchdowns. Kiick contributed 521 yards and five touchdowns, and also caught 21 passes for 147 yards and another touchdown. Morris, a breakaway runner, rushed for 1,000 yards, caught 15 passes for 168 yards, added another 334 yards returning kickoffs, and scored a league-leading 12 rushing touchdowns. Overall, Miami set a record with 2,960 total rushing yards during the regular season, and became the first team ever to have two players rush for 1,000 yards in one season. Miami led the NFL in points scored (385).
Receiver Paul Warfield once again provided the run-based Dolphins with an effective deep threat option, catching 29 passes for 606 yards, an average of 20.9 yards per catch. Miami's offensive line, led by future Hall of Famers Jim Langer and Larry Little was also a key factor for the Dolphins' offensive production. Miami's "No-Name Defense" (a nickname inspired by Dallas Cowboys head coach Tom Landry when he could not recall the names of any Dolphins defenders just before Super Bowl VI), led by future Hall of Fame linebacker Nick Buoniconti, allowed the fewest points in the league during the regular season (171), and ranked second in the NFL with 26 interceptions. Safety Jake Scott recorded five interceptions, while Lloyd Mumphord had four picks and safety Dick Anderson had 3 interceptions and led the NFL with 5 fumble recoveries. Because of injuries to defensive linemen (at the beginning of the season the Dolphins were down to four healthy defensive linemen) defensive coordinator Bill Arnsparger created what he called the "53" defense, in which versatile Bob Matheson (number 53) would be used as either a defensive end in the standard 4–3 defense or as a fourth linebacker in a 3–4 defense, with Manny Fernandez at nose tackle. As a linebacker, Matheson would either rush or drop back into coverage. Said Nick Buoniconti, "Teams would be totally confused." Linebacker Doug Swift was also a playmaker with 3 interceptions and a fumble recovery.
The Dolphins' undefeated, untied regular season was the third in NFL history, and the first of the post-merger era. The previous two teams to do it, the 1934 and 1942 Chicago Bears, both lost those years' NFL Championship Games. The Cleveland Browns also completed a perfect season in 1948, including a Championship victory, when they were part of the All-America Football Conference (AAFC), but this feat is only recognized by the Pro Football Hall of Fame (the NFL does not officially recognize any AAFC records).
Following the death of Vince Lombardi 17 days prior to the start of the 1970 season, Washington finished 6-8 under interim coach Bill Austin. Shortly after the conclusion of the 1970 season, the Redskins hired George Allen as their head coach, hoping he could turn the team's fortunes around. Allen's philosophy was that veteran players win games, so immediately after taking over the team, he traded away most of the younger team members and draft choices for older, more established players. His motto was "The future is now." Washington quickly became the oldest team in the NFL and earned the nickname "The Over the Hill Gang." The average age of starters was 31 years old. However, Allen's strategy turned the Redskins around as the team improved to a 9–4–1 record in 1971, and finished the 1972 season with an NFC-best 11–3 record.
Washington was led by 33-year-old quarterback Billy Kilmer, who completed 120 out of 225 passes for 1,648 yards and a league leading 19 touchdowns during the regular season, with only 11 interceptions, giving him an NFL best 84.8 passer rating. Kilmer had started the first three games of the season, was replaced in game four by 38-year-old Sonny Jurgensen, then replaced Jurgensen when he was lost for the season with an Achilles tendon injury. Their powerful rushing attack featured two running backs. Larry Brown gained 1,216 yards (first in the NFC and second in the NFL) in 285 carries during the regular season, caught 32 passes for 473 yards, and scored 12 touchdowns, earning him both the NFL Most Valuable Player Award and the NFL Offensive Player of the Year Award. Running back Charley Harraway had 567 yards in 148 carries. Future Hall of Fame wide receiver Charley Taylor and wide receiver Roy Jefferson provided the team with a solid deep threat, combining for 84 receptions, 1,223 receiving yards, and 10 touchdowns.
Washington also had a solid defense led by linebacker Chris Hanburger (four interceptions, 98 return yards, one touchdown), and cornerbacks Pat Fischer (four interceptions, 61 return yards) and Mike Bass (three interceptions, 53 return yards)
Morrall led the Dolphins to a 20–14 playoff win over the Cleveland Browns. However, Griese started the second half of the AFC Championship Game to help rally the Dolphins to a 21–17 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, largely due to a fake punt by Dolphin Larry Seiple.
Meanwhile, the Redskins advanced to the Super Bowl without allowing a touchdown in either their 16–3 playoff win over the Green Bay Packers or their 26–3 NFC Championship Game victory over the Cowboys.
Much of the pregame hype surrounded the chances of the Dolphins completing a perfect, undefeated season, as well as their quarterback controversy between Griese and Morrall. Griese was eventually picked to start the Super Bowl because Shula felt more comfortable with Morrall as the backup just in case Griese was ineffective due to his recent inactivity. Miami was also strongly motivated to win the Super Bowl after having been humiliated by the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl VI. Wrote Nick Buoniconti, "There was no way we were going to lose the Super Bowl; there was no way." Head coach Don Shula, loser of Super Bowls III and VI, was also determined to win. Although Shula was relaxed and charming when dealing with the press, it was all an act; Dolphins players described him as "neurotic" and "absolutely crazy." He was also sick Super Bowl week with the flu, which he kept secret.
Still, many favored the Redskins to win the game because of their group of "Over the Hill Gang" veterans, and because Miami had what some considered an easy schedule (only two Dolphin opponents, Kansas City and the New York Giants posted winning records, and both of those teams were 8–6) and had struggled in the playoffs. Also, while Washington had easily crushed both playoff opponents, Miami had narrowly defeated theirs. Most surprisingly, the Dolphins needed to mount of a 4th quarter comeback against the Browns, whom they were heavily favored to defeat.
Allen had a reputation for spying on opponents. A school overlooked the Rams facility that the NFL designated the Dolphins practice field, so the Dolphins found a more secure field at a local community college. Dolphins employees inspected the trees every day for spies.
Miami cornerback Tim Foley, a future broadcaster who was injured and would not play in Super Bowl VII, was writing daily stories for a Miami newspaper and interviewed George Allen and Redskin players, provoking charges from Allen that Foley was actually spying for Shula.
Allen was extremely uptight and prickly dealing with the press Super Bowl week, and accused the press of ruining his team's preparation. Allen pushed the team so hard in practices that the players joked among themselves that they should have left Allen in Washington.
During practice the day before Super Bowl VII, the Dolphins' five foot seven, 150 pound kicker, Garo Yepremian, relaxed by throwing 30-yard passes to Dave Shula, Don Shula's son. During the pre-game warmups, he consistently kicked low line drives and couldn't figure out why.
This was the first Super Bowl in which neither coach wore a tie. Shula wore coat and tie for Super Bowl VI, but wore a white short-sleeved polo shirt for this game, as did Allen. For Super Bowl VIII, Shula wore a sportcoat, but a similar shirt as Super Bowl VII underneath.
This was the first Super Bowl to be televised live in the city in which it was being played. Despite unconditional blackout rules in the NFL that normally would have prohibited the live telecast from being shown locally, the NFL allowed the game to be telecast in the Los Angeles area on an experimental basis when all tickets for the game were sold. The league then changed its blackout rules the following season to allow any game sold out at least 72 hours in advance to be televised in the host market. No subsequent Super Bowl has ever been blacked out under this rule, as all have been sold out (owing to its status as the marquee event on the NFL schedule, meaning that tickets sell out quickly).
This game is featured on NFL's Greatest Games under the title 17-0.
The pregame show was a tribute to Apollo 17, the sixth and last mission to land on the Moon and the final one of Project Apollo. The show featured the Michigan Marching Band and the crew of Apollo 17 who exactly one month earlier had been the final humans to date to leave the Moon.
Later, the Little Angels of Chicago's Angels Church from Chicago performed the national anthem.
According to Shula, the Dolphins' priority on defense was to stop Larry Brown and force Billy Kilmer to pass. Buoniconti looked at Washington's offensive formation on each play and shifted the defense so it was strongest where he felt Brown would run. This strategy proved successful. Washington's offensive line also had trouble handling Dolphins' defensive tackle/nose tackle Manny Fernandez, who was very quick. "He beat their center Len Hauss like a drum", wrote Buoniconti. Miami's defenders had also drilled in maintaining precise pursuit angles on sweeps to prevent the cut-back running that Duane Thomas had used to destroy the Dolphins in Super Bowl VI.
With a game-time kickoff temperature of 84 °F (29 °C), this is the warmest Super Bowl to date. It came the year after the coldest game in Super Bowl VI which registered a temperature at kickoff of 39 °F (4 °C).
As they had in Super Bowl VI, Miami won the toss and elected to receive. Most of the first quarter was a defensive battle with each team punting on their first two possessions. The Dolphins would, however, get two key breaks. Howard Kindig appeared to mishandle the snap on their first punt from the Miami 27 and lose the ball to the Redskins' Harold McLinton, but McLinton was called for slapping at the ball while it was being snapped, for a 5-yard penalty. On the replay of the down, Larry Seiple got the kick away safely. Later, after stopping Washington for the second time, safety Jake Scott did not call for a fair catch, as he had not been told to do so by Dick Anderson. He fumbled, but fortunately Anderson made the recovery. Miami then started this drive on its own 37-yard line with 2:55 left in the first quarter. Running back Jim Kiick started out the drive with two carries for eleven yards. Then quarterback Bob Griese completed an 18-yard pass to wide receiver Paul Warfield to reach the Washington 34-yard line. After two more running plays, on third and four Griese threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to receiver Howard Twilley for his only catch of the game. Twilley fooled Pat Fischer by faking a route to the inside, then broke to the outside and caught the ball at the five-yard line, dragging Fischer into the end zone. "Griese read us real good all day", said Fischer. Yepremian's extra point gave the Dolphins a 7–0 lead with one second remaining in the period. (Yepremian noticed that the kick was too low, just like his practice kicks).
On the third play of the Redskins' ensuing drive, Scott intercepted quarterback Billy Kilmer's pass down the middle intended for Taylor and returned it eight yards to the Washington 47-yard line. However a 15-yard illegal man downfield penalty on left guard Bob Kuechenberg nullified a 20-yard pass completion to tight end Marv Fleming on the first play after the turnover, and the Dolphins were forced to punt after three more plays.
After the Redskins were forced to punt again, Miami reached the 47-yard line with a 13-yard run by Larry Csonka and an 8-yard run by Kiick. But on the next play, Griese's 47-yard touchdown pass to Warfield was nullified by an illegal procedure penalty on receiver Marlin Briscoe (Briscoe's first, and only, play of the game). On third down, Redskins defensive tackle Diron Talbert sacked Griese for a 6-yard loss and the Dolphins had to punt.
The Redskins then advanced from their own 17-yard line to the Miami 48-yard line (their first incursion into Miami territory) with less than two minutes left in the half. But on third down and three yards to go, Dolphins linebacker Nick Buoniconti intercepted Kilmer's pass to tight end Jerry Smith at the Miami 41-yard line and returned it 32 yards to the Washington 27-yard line. From there, Kiick and Csonka each ran once for three yards, and then Griese completed a 19-yard pass (his sixth completion in six attempts) to tight end Jim Mandich, who made a diving catch at the 2-yard line. Two plays later, Kiick scored on a 1-yard blast behind Little and Csonka with just 18 seconds left in the half, and Yepremian's extra point gave the Dolphins a lead of 14–0 before halftime (once again, Yepremian noticed the kick was too low).
Miami's defense dominated the Redskins in the first half, limiting Washington to 49 yards rushing, 23 yards passing, and four first downs.
The Redskins had more success moving the ball in the second half. They took the second half kickoff and advanced across midfield for only the second time in the game, driving from their own 30-yard line to Miami's 17-yard line in a seven-play drive that featured just two runs. On first down at Miami's 17-yard line, Kilmer threw to wide receiver Charley Taylor, who was open at the 2-yard line, but Taylor stumbled right before the ball arrived and the ball glanced off his fingertips. After a second-down screen pass to Harraway fell incomplete, defensive tackle Manny Fernandez sacked Kilmer on third down for a loss of eight yards, and Washington's drive ended with no points after kicker Curt Knight's ensuing 32-yard field goal attempt was wide right. "That was an obvious turning point", said Allen. Later in the period, the Dolphins drove 78 yards to Washington's 5-yard line, featuring a 49-yard run by Csonka, the second-longest run in Super Bowl history at the time. However, Redskins defensive back Brig Owens intercepted a pass intended for Fleming in the end zone for a touchback.
Early in the fourth quarter, Washington threatened to score by mounting its most impressive drive of the game, driving 79 yards from its own 11 to Miami's 10-yard line in twelve plays. On second down at the Miami 10-yard line, Kilmer threw to tight end Jerry Smith in the end zone. Smith was wide open, but the ball hit the crossbar of the goalpost and fell incomplete. Then on third down, Scott intercepted Kilmer's pass to Taylor in the end zone and returned it 55 yards to the Redskins 48-yard line.
Miami moved the ball to the 34-yard line on their ensuing drive. Leading 14–0 on 4th down with 4 yards to go, Shula could have tried for a conversion, but thought "What a hell of a way to remember this game" if they could end a perfect 17–0 season with a 17–0 Super Bowl final score. He called on kicker Garo Yepremian to attempt a 42-yard field goal in what is now remembered as one of the most famous blunders in NFL lore: "Garo's Gaffe". As had been the case all day, Yepremian's kick was too low, and it was blocked by Washington defensive tackle Bill Brundige. The ball bounced to Yepremian's right and he reached it before holder Earl Morrall. But instead of falling on the ball, Yepremian picked it up and, with Brundige bearing down on him, made a frantic attempt to pass the ball to Csonka, who blocked on field goals. Unfortunately for Miami, the ball slipped out of his hands and went straight up in the air. Yepremian attempted to bat the ball out of bounds, but instead batted it back up into the air, and it went right into the arms of Redskins cornerback Mike Bass, who returned the fumble 49 yards for a touchdown, the first fumble recovery returned for a touchdown in Super Bowl history, to make the score 14–7 with 2:07 left in the game.
To the surprise of some, the Redskins did not try an onside kick, but instead kicked deep. The Redskins were forced to use up all of their timeouts on the Dolphins' ensuing five-play possession, but forced Miami to punt (nearly blocking the punt) from its own 36-yard line with 1:14 remaining in the game, giving themselves a chance to drive for the tying touchdown. However, Miami's defense forced two incompletions and a 4-yard loss on a swing pass, and then defensive end Vern Den Herder's 9-yard sack on fourth down as time expired in the game.
Griese finished the game having completed 8 out of 11 passes for 88 yards and a touchdown, with one interception. Csonka was the game's leading rusher with 15 carries for 112 yards. Kiick had 38 rushing yards, two receptions for six yards, and a touchdown. Morris had 34 rushing yards. Manny Fernandez had 11 solo tackles and six assists. Kilmer completed six more passes than Griese, but finished the game with just 16 more total passing yards and was intercepted three times. Said Kilmer, "I wasn't sharp at all. Good as their defense is, I still should have thrown better." Washington's Larry Brown rushed for 72 yards on 22 carries and also had five receptions for 26 yards. Redskins receiver Roy Jefferson was the top receiver of the game, with five catches for 50 yards. Washington amassed almost as many total yards (228) as Miami (253), and actually more first downs (16 to Miami's 12).
The Dolphins never made the traditional post-game visit to the White House due to the Watergate scandal, but in August 2013 finally made the trip at the behest of Barack Obama, minus Manny Fernandez, Jim Langer, and Bob Kuechenberg, who did not attend due to their opposition to the Obama administration. Garo Yepremian was a longtime Republican supporter and friend of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush but made the trip anyway and had an amusing exchange with President Obama over his long-ago bumble in the game.
Sources:The NFL's Official Encyclopedic History of Professional Football, (1973), p. 153, Macmillan Publishing Co. New York, LCCN 73-3862, NFL.com Super Bowl VII, Super Bowl VII Play Finder Mia, Super Bowl VII Play Finder Was
|Miami Dolphins||Washington Redskins|
|First downs rushing||7||9|
|First downs passing||5||7|
|First downs penalty||0||0|
|Third down efficiency||3/11||3/13|
|Fourth down efficiency||0/0||0/1|
|Net yards rushing||184||141|
|Yards per rush||5.0||3.9|
|Passing – Completions/attempts||8/11||14/28|
|Times sacked-total yards||2–19||2–17|
|Net yards passing||69||87|
|Total net yards||253||228|
|Punt returns-total yards||2–4||4–9|
|Kickoff returns-total yards||2–33||3–45|
|Interceptions-total return yards||3–95||1–0|
|Time of possession||27:29||32:31|
1Completions/attempts 2Carries 3Long gain 4Receptions 5Times targeted
The following records were set or tied in Super Bowl VII, according to the official NFL.com boxscore and the ProFootball reference.com game summary. Some records have to meet NFL minimum number of attempts to be recognized. The minimums are shown (in parenthesis).
|Player Records Set in Super Bowl VII |
|Most yards, career||152 yds||Larry Csonka|
|Longest run from scrimmage||49 yards|
|Highest average gain, career (20 attempts)||6.3 yards (152–24)|
|Most fumble return yards, game||49 yards||Mike Bass(Was)|
|Longest fumble return|
|Longest fumble return for touchdown|
|Most fumble returns for touchdowns, game||1|
|Most interception yards gained, game||63 yds||Jake Scott (Mia)|
|Most interception yards gained, career|
|Most kickoff returns, career||6||Mercury Morris(Mia)|
|Most kickoff return yards, career||123 yds|
|Most interceptions thrown, game||3||Billy Kilmer(Was)|
|Most interceptions made, game||2||Jake Scott|
|Most fumbles, game
Most fumbles, career
|Most fumbles recovered, game
Most fumbles recovered, career
|Team Records |
|Fewest passing attempts||11||Dolphins|
|Fewest passes completed||8|
|Fewest yards passing (net)||69 yds|
|Lowest average yards gained
per pass attempt
|Most yards gained by
|Lowest average, game (4 punts)||31.2 yds (5–156)||Redskins|
|Most Super Bowl appearances||2||Dolphins|
|Most consecutive Super Bowl appearances||2|
|Most points, first quarter||7 pts|
|Largest lead, end of first quarter||7 pts|
|Fewest points, second half||0 pts|
|Fewest first downs passing||5|
|Most Super Bowl losses||1||Redskins|
|Fewest points, first half||0 pts|
|Fewest rushing touchdowns||0|
|Fewest passing touchdowns||0|
|Fewest first downs penalty||0||Dolphins |
|Records set, both team totals |
|Points, Both Teams thru|
|Fewest points||21 pts||14||7|
|Fewest points scored, second half||7 pts||0||7|
|Field Goals, Both Teams|
|Fewest field goals made||0||0||0|
|Net yards, Both Teams|
|Fewest net yards,
rushing and passing
|Rushing, Both Teams|
|Most rushing attempts||73||37||36|
|Passing, Both Teams|
|Fewest passing attempts||39||11||28|
|Fewest passes completed||22||8||14|
|Fewest yards passing (net)||156 yds||69||87|
|Defense, Both Teams|
|Most yards gained by
|Kickoff returns, Both Teams|
|Fewest yards gained||78 yds||33||45|
|Punt returns, Both Teams|
|Fewest yards gained||13 yds||4||9|
|Records tied, both team totals|
|Most points, first quarter||7 pts||7||0|
|Fewest field goals attempted||2||1||1|
|Fewest rushing touchdowns||1||1||0|
|Fewest first downs, penalty||0||0||0|
|Fewest kickoff returns||5||2||3|
|Paul Warfield‡||WR||Charley Taylor‡|
|Wayne Moore||LT||Terry Hermeling|
|Bob Kuechenberg||LG||Paul Laaveg|
|Jim Langer‡||C||Len Hauss|
|Larry Little‡||RG||John Wilbur|
|Norm Evans||RT||Walt Rock|
|Marv Fleming||TE||Jerry Smith|
|Howard Twilley||WR||Roy Jefferson|
|Bob Griese‡||QB||Billy Kilmer|
|Larry Csonka‡||FB||Charley Harraway|
|Jim Kiick||RB||Larry Brown|
|Vern Den Herder||LE||Ron McDole|
|Manny Fernandez||LT||Bill Brundige|
|Bob Heinz||RT||Diron Talbert|
|Bill Stanfill||RE||Verlon Biggs|
|Doug Swift||LLB||Jack Pardee|
|Nick Buoniconti‡||MLB||Myron Pottios|
|Mike Kolen||RLB||Chris Hanburger‡|
|Lloyd Mumphord||LCB||Pat Fischer|
|Curtis Johnson||RCB||Mike Bass|
|Dick Anderson||LS||Brig Owens|
|Jake Scott||RS||Roosevelt Taylor|
Note: A seven-official system was not used until 1978. Back Judge and Field Judge swapped titles prior to the 1998.
As Shula was being carried off the field after the end of the game, a kid who shook his hand stripped off his watch. Shula got down, chased after the kid, and retrieved his watch.
Manny Fernandez was a strong contender for MVP. Wrote Nick Buoniconti, "It was the game of his life–in fact, it was the most dominant game by a defensive lineman in the history of the game, and he would never be given much credit for it. They should have given out two game balls and made Manny Fernandez the co-MVP with Jake Scott." Larry Csonka also said he thought Fernandez should have been the MVP. The MVP was selected by Dick Schaap, the editor of SPORT magazine. Schaap admitted later that he had been out late the previous night, struggled to watch the defense-dominated game, and was not aware that Fernandez had 17 tackles.
When Garo Yepremian went back to the Dolphins' sideline after his botched field goal attempt, Nick Buoniconti told him that if they lost he would "Hang you up by one of your ties." Yepremian would joke to reporters after the game, "This is the first time the goat of the game is in the winner's locker room." But Yepremian would be so traumatized by his botched attempt that he had to be helped from the post-game party by his brother because of a stress-induced stabbing pain down his right side. Depressed, he spent two weeks in seclusion until he was cheered up by a letter, apparently from Shula, praising him for his contributions to the team and urging him to ignore criticism. Yepremian kept the letter and mentioned it to Shula in 2000, but Shula had no knowledge of it. They concluded the letter was actually written by Shula's wife Dorothy, who died from breast cancer in 1991. She had signed her husband's name to it. Nevertheless, "Garo's Gaffe" made Yepremian famous and led to a lucrative windfall of speaking engagements and endorsements. "It's been a blessing", says Yepremian.
The same teams met 10 years later in Super Bowl XVII, which was also played in the Los Angeles area, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The Redskins won that game, 27–17. Two starters from Miami's undefeated team, guard Bob Kuechenberg and defensive end Vern Den Herder, were still active during the strike-shortened 1982 season. The Redskins had no players remaining from Super Bowl VII on their Super Bowl XVII roster. The last member of the 1972 Redskins still active with the franchise, offensive tackle Terry Hermeling, retired after the 1980 season.
Redskins linebacker and defensive captain Jack Pardee retired immediately following this game, ending a 16-year career. He coached the Chicago Bears for three seasons (1975–77) before succeeding Allen as Redskins coach in 1978. Pardee was fired following a 6–10 campaign in 1980 and was replaced by Joe Gibbs, who led the Redskins to three Super Bowl championships (XVII, XXII, XXVI) and 171 victories to earn induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Pardee later coached the Houston Oilers for four and a half seasons (1990–94).
The game was played on the same day as the live Elvis Presley broadcast of "Aloha from Hawaii", causing the concert air date to be postponed until April 1973.
The 1972 Miami Dolphins season was the team’s seventh season, and third season in the National Football League (NFL). The 1972 Dolphins are the only NFL team to win the Super Bowl with a perfect season. The undefeated campaign was led by coach Don Shula and notable players Bob Griese, Earl Morrall, and Larry Csonka. The 1972 Dolphins went 14–0 in the regular season and won all three post-season games, including Super Bowl VII against the Washington Redskins, to finish 17–0.
The team remains the only NFL team to complete an entire season undefeated and untied from the opening game through the Super Bowl (or championship game). The closest team to repeating this feat was the 2007 New England Patriots, who recorded the most wins in a season in NFL history by going 18–0 before shockingly losing to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII (the Dolphins won 18 straight through and until the first week of the 1973 season). Besides the 1972 Dolphins and 2007 Patriots, the only other team to ever complete the regular season undefeated and untied is the Chicago Bears, who accomplished the feat in both 1934 and 1942. Both of those Bears teams however failed to win the NFL Championship Game.
During the 1972 season, Bob Griese’s ankle was broken in Week 5 as he was sacked by San Diego Chargers defensive tackle Ron East and defensive end Deacon Jones. He was replaced by veteran Earl Morrall for the rest of the regular season. Griese returned to the field as a substitute in the final regular season game against the Baltimore Colts and then also relieved Morrall for the second half of the AFC Championship game versus the Pittsburgh Steelers and then started for Miami in Super Bowl VII. On the ground, running backs Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris became the first teammates to each rush for 1,000 yards in a season. Paul Warfield led the receivers, averaging over 20 yards per catch on 29 receptions. The offensive line included future Hall of Fame members Jim Langer and Larry Little and Pro Bowler Norm Evans.
The 1972 Dolphins defensive unit, called the No-Name Defense because Miami’s impressive offense received much more publicity, as well as Cowboys coach Tom Landry coining the phrase in an interview, was the league’s best that year. It was led by linebacker Nick Buoniconti, end Bill Stanfill, tackle Manny Fernandez, and safeties Dick Anderson and Jake Scott. In all, nine players—Csonka, Morris, Warfield, Little, Evans, Buoniconti, Stanfill, Anderson and Scott—were selected to the Pro Bowl, and Morrall, Stanfill and Anderson were named 1st team All-Pro.On August 20, 2013, four decades after their accomplishment, President Barack Obama hosted the 1972 Dolphins, noting that they "never got their White House visit".1972 NFL season
The 1972 NFL season was the 53rd regular season of the National Football League. The Miami Dolphins became the first (and to date the only) NFL team to finish a championship season undefeated and untied when they beat the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII.1972 Washington Redskins season
The 1972 Washington Redskins season was the team's 41st season, and 36th in Washington, D.C. The Redskins were trying to build on the success of the previous season, in which they had made the postseason for the first time in 26 seasons.
Head coach George Allen, in just his second season with the team, took the Redskins to their first Super Bowl. The team, who had missed the postseason in the entirety of the 1950s and 1960s, won their first postseason game since 1943, and appeared in their first league championship game since 1945.
The NFC Champion Redskins would ultimately lose a very close Super Bowl VII, 14–7, to the undefeated Miami Dolphins.
The 1972 season was the first in which the team wore their current logo, which features a Native American head in profile within a gold circle. It remains the team's primary logo.1972–73 NFL playoffs
The National Football League playoffs for the 1972 season began on December 23, 1972. The postseason tournament concluded with the Miami Dolphins defeating the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII, 14-7, on January 14, 1973, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California, becoming the only NFL team to finish a championship season undefeated and untied.
Like the previous NFL seasons, the home teams in the playoffs were decided based on a yearly divisional rotation, excluding the wild card teams who would always play on the road.Al Jenkins (American football)
Alfred Joseph Jenkins (born July 15, 1946) is a former professional American football player who played offensive lineman for three seasons for the Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins, and Houston Oilers.Jenkins was a backup lineman on Miami's undefeated 1972 Super Bowl championship team. He was one of the players who carried coach Don Shula off the field on their shoulders after the team's victory in Super Bowl VII and as a result his image is included in the bronze statue outside Sun Life Stadium commemorating the event.Bill Brundige
William Glenn Brundige (November 13, 1948 – December 29, 2018) was an American football defensive end in the National Football League for the Washington Redskins for eight seasons, from 1970 through 1977. He is currently sixth on the Redskins all-time sack list.
Born in Holyoke, Colorado, Brundige played high school football at tiny Haxtun in northeastern Colorado and then played college football at the University of Colorado in Boulder. He was a physics major at CU and also threw the shot put for the Buffaloes' track team. After a senior season in 1969 in which he was named first-team All-American, he was selected in the second round of the 1970 NFL draft, 43rd overall, by head coach Vince Lombardi of the Redskins.At age 21, he was a starter as a rookie in 1970 at defensive tackle. At the end of his third season in the NFL, Brundige became a part of both Redskin and Super Bowl lore in Super Bowl VII. He blocked the field goal attempt by Garo Yepremian that led to the bizarre fumble-return touchdown by Mike Bass that cut the Miami Dolphins' lead to 14–7 with just over two minutes remaining.In 2002 for the Redskins' 70th anniversary, Brundige was named a member of the 70 Greatest Redskins.
After his playing days, Brundige was a general manager of Ford dealerships in the Shenandoah Valley region of Virginia in the city of Winchester and town of Front Royal.Brundige died at his home in Knoxville, Tennessee on December 29, 2018, from cancer.Doug Swift
Douglas A. Swift (born October 24, 1948) is a former American football linebacker who played six seasons in the National Football League for the Miami Dolphins. Swift moved into the starting lineup as a rookie and held the strongside linebacker position for the next six seasons, including the Dolphins' Super Bowl victories following the 1972 and 1973 seasons. Swift's blitz late in the second quarter of Super Bowl VII forced Washington Redskins quarterback Billy Kilmer to make a hurried throw, which Nick Buoniconti intercepted and returned into Washington territory to set up the Dolphins' second touchdown in a 14-7 victory, cementing Miami's 17-0 season. Made available in the 1976 NFL Expansion Draft, he chose to retire from football and enter medical school rather than report to the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.He is a graduate of both Nottingham High School and Amherst College (1970). Swift is an anesthesiologist in Philadelphia.Garo Yepremian
Garabed Sarkis "Garo" Yepremian (June 2, 1944 – May 15, 2015) was an American football placekicker in the National Football League for the Detroit Lions, Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, during a career that spanned from 1966 to 1981.Howard Twilley
Howard James Twilley Jr. (born December 25, 1943) is a former American football player. He played college football at the University of Tulsa and was the runner up for the Heisman Trophy in 1965. Twilley played professionally as a wide receiver with the Miami Dolphins of the American Football League (AFL) and the National Football League (NFL) from 1966 to 1976. He was the only player on the original 1966 Dolphins squad to play on the 1972 Dolphins team that had the NFL's only perfect season and won Super Bowl VII.
At Tulsa, Twilley set an NCAA record for the most receiving yards in a season (1,779), a record that stood until broken by Nevada's Alex Van Dyke in 1995. In 1992 Twilley was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Twilley finished his NFL career with 212 receptions for 3,064 yards and 23 touchdowns. He also caught a 28-yard touchdown pass in the Dolphins' Super Bowl VII win over the Washington Redskins.
After Twilley's football career ended, he pursued a career in business. He owned 28 The Athlete's Foot sporting goods stores before selling them in 1990, and worked in an investment firm. In 1994, he actively considered a run for the United States House of Representatives to succeed Jim Inhofe in Oklahoma's 1st congressional district when Inhofe decided to run for the United States Senate, but he ultimately decided to support the candidacy of another conservative Republican former NFL star, Steve Largent. He was inducted into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame in 1995.Jesse Powell (American football)
Jesse Loy Powell (April 14, 1947 – June 14, 2012) was a professional American football linebacker in the National Football League. He attended West Texas A&M. He played linebacker and special teams with the Miami Dolphins from 1969 to 1973.
Powell was a member of the Dolphins during their perfect season of 1972 when the team had a 17-0 combined record in the regular season and playoffs and won Super Bowl VII. Early in the 1973 season he was bothered by a chronic knee injury he suffered the prior season, which required season-ending surgery after 3 games to remove bone chips. He announced his retirement from pro football just before the start of the 1974 preseason. Overall, Powell played for three Super Bowl teams.Following retirement from the NFL, Powell briefly worked in the food industry before working with State Farm Insurance for 35 years. He retired from that company on March 31, 2012.Powell died in a Texas hospital on June 14, 2012. His brother told a local news agency that the mechanism of death was cardiac arrest, but a formal cause of death had not been established.Karl Noonan
Karl Noonan (born February 17, 1944) is a former collegiate and professional football wide receiver. As a high school football player at Assumption High School in Davenport (where one of his classmates was future Princeton All-American linebacker Stas Maliszewski). He played collegiately at the University of Iowa and professionally with the American Football League's Miami Dolphins from 1966 through 1969, and for the NFL's Dolphins from 1970 through 1972. He was an AFL All-Star in 1968. In 1972 he injured his shoulder in the preseason and was not activated even after recovering, although he assisted the coaching staff through Super Bowl VII from the press box analyzing the opposing defense. He announced his retirement prior to the 1973 season.Larry Ball
Larry Lavern Ball (born September 27, 1949) is a retired American football linebacker.
Ball was drafted out of University of Louisville in the 1972 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins. He also played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Detroit Lions. During his National Football League career, he participated in 79 games. Ball is the only player in NFL history to play an entire season for both an undefeated team, the 1972 Miami Dolphins (where he won Super Bowl VII), and a winless team, the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (Maulty Moore also played for the 1972 Dolphins and 1976 Buccaneers, but while he was with the Dolphins the entire season, he was signed by the '76 Bucs late in the season and started just the final game. A third player who also played for the '72 Dolphins, Doug Swift, was taken by the Buccaneers in the expansion draft, but retired from football to enter medical school and never reported to the team.)After football, Ball worked as a guidance counselor, department head, and coach for Miami-Dade County Public Schools in Miami, Florida. He retired in 2011 after more than 30 years of service. He is active in the South Florida community, participating in numerous charity events along with his fellow '72 Undefeated Team teammates.List of Super Bowl halftime shows
Halftime shows are a tradition during American football games at all levels of competition. Entertainment during the Super Bowl, the annual championship game of the National Football League (NFL), represents a fundamental link to pop culture, which helps broaden the television audience and nationwide interest. As the Super Bowl itself is typically the most-watched event on television in the United States annually, the halftime show has been equally-viewed in recent years: the halftime show of Super Bowl XLIX featuring Katy Perry was viewed by 118.5 million, as part of an overall telecast that peaked at 120.3 million at its conclusion—the most-watched television broadcast in U.S. history. The NFL announced that the Super Bowl LI halftime show, with Lady Gaga was the "most-watched musical event of all-time," citing a figure of 150 million viewers based on the television audience, as well as unique viewership of video postings of the halftime show on the league's platforms, and social media interactions (a metric that was never calculated prior to 2017). The show was seen by 117.5 million television viewers, making it the second-highest-rated halftime show on network broadcast.Prior to the early 1990s, the halftime show was based around a theme, and featured university marching bands (the Grambling State University Marching Band has performed at the most Super Bowl halftime shows, featuring in six shows including at least one per decade from the 1960s to the 1990s), drill teams, and other performance ensembles such as Up with People. Beginning in 1991, the halftime show began to feature pop music acts such as New Kids on the Block and Gloria Estefan. In an effort to boost the prominence of the halftime show to increase viewer interest, Super Bowl XXVII featured a headlining performance by Michael Jackson. After Super Bowl XXXVIII, whose halftime show featured an incident where Justin Timberlake exposed one of Janet Jackson's breasts, the halftime show began to feature classic rock acts until the return of headlining pop musicians in 2011.Miami Dolphins Honor Roll
The Miami Dolphins Honor Roll is a ring around the second tier at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, which honors former players, coaches, contributors, and officials who have made significant contributions to the Miami Dolphins franchise.
The Miami Dolphins Honor Roll was started on September 16, 1990 with its first inductee being the owner/founder of the Miami Dolphins: Joe Robbie, who died one year prior to his induction.
Since then, 23 players, and two coaches have been inducted into the honor roll, along with a special induction to honor the 1972 Undefeated Team, which was inducted in 1992 at the 20th anniversary. Inductions included a special "four individual" induction in 1990 to honor the first four Miami Dolphins Hall of Famers of Csonka, Langer, Griese, and Warfield.
There have also been special "dual" inductions: In 2003, the "Marks Brothers" of WRs Mark Clayton and Mark Duper were inducted. In 2008, a special "dual" induction honored two members of the famed "Killer B's" defense with DT Bob Baumhower and DE Doug Betters. In 2010, a "dual" induction of two defensive stars on Miami's 1972 undefeated team - S Jake Scott and DE Bill Stanfill - were inducted. In 2012, a special "dual" induction of two all-time Dolphin fan-favorites, defensive stars from the mid-late 1990s/early 2000s - LB Zach Thomas and DE Jason Taylor - were also inducted.
In 1992 at the 20th anniversary, Miami's "1972 Undefeated Team" was enshrined into the Honor Roll. At the 40th anniversary, which enshrined former defensive coordinator Bill Arnsparger into the Honor Roll, his name went on the Honor Roll where the "1972 Undefeated Team" inductee previously and originally was enshrined, and an updated "1972 Perfect Season Team 17-0" inductee was put into one corner of Hard Rock Stadium with special placards of Super Bowl VII and Super Bowl VIII included next to it on each side.
Miami Dolphins Honor Roll inductees are chosen by current members of the honor roll as well as current franchise officials.Mike Bass
Michael Thomas Bass (born March 31, 1945) is a former American football player.
Bass played professional football in the National Football League (NFL) as a cornerback for the Washington Redskins from 1969 to 1975. He appeared in 104 consecutive games for the Redskins between 1969 and 1975, recorded 30 interceptions, and scored the Redskins' only touchdown in Super Bowl VII on a 49-yard fumble return. In 2002, Bass was selected as one of the 70 greatest Redskins players of all time.
A native of Ypsilanti, Michigan, Bass played college football as a halfback for the University of Michigan from 1964 to 1966. He also appeared in two games as a special teams player for the Detroit Lions in 1967.Mike Kadish
Michael S. Kadish (born May 27, 1950) is a former American football defensive lineman who played nine seasons in the NFL for the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills. He played college football at the University of Notre Dame. He was a member of the All-American team in 1971 as a senior. Then, in his rookie year, he won Super Bowl VII with the Miami Dolphins and was part of their perfect season that year going 17-0.Tom Kelleher (American football official)
Thomas "Tom" Kelleher (August 31, 1925 – March 31, 2011) was an American football official in the National Football League (NFL) for 28 years, from 1960 until the conclusion of the 1987 NFL season. Working as a back judge, Kelleher was assigned five Super Bowls; Super Bowl IV, Super Bowl VII, Super Bowl XI, Super Bowl XV and Super Bowl XIX; one of five officials to reach such an achievement. He wore number 25 for the major part of his career. For 1979 through 1981, Kelleher wore the number 7. He was born in Philadelphia, and died in Miami.
Kelleher worked 10 consecutive seasons (1977-86) of his career on the crew of Jerry Markbreit, who later became the only official to work four Super Bowls (XVII, XXI, XXVI, XXIX) at the referee position. Kelleher's final season, he worked on the crew of Gordon McCarter.Verlon Biggs
Verlon Marion Biggs (March 16, 1943 – June 7, 1994) was an American football defensive end in the American Football League and National Football League. He played for the New York Jets (AFL) in Super Bowl III, but felt he didn't receive enough credit for the Jets' playoff win against the Oakland Raiders in the AFL Championship Game that launched them into the Super Bowl. He played well but sulked until 1970, demanded more money, and wound up signing with Vince Lombardi's Washington Redskins of the NFL. Always a dominating defensive end, Verlon solidified George Allen's defense (Allen replaced Lombardi upon his death in July 1970) and led the Redskins into Super Bowl VII. His nickname with the Redskins was "dirty Biggs" because of his extremely physical style of play.Walt Rock
Walter Warfield Rock (born November 4, 1941 in Cleveland, Ohio) is a former American football offensive lineman in the National Football League. Walt played in Super Bowl VII for the Washington Redskins and was a member of the "Over-the-Hill Gang". Rock was also a member on the NFL's All Star Team. Several injuries to his right ankle ended his twelve-year career with the NFL. He played college football at the University of Maryland and was drafted in the second round of the 1963 NFL Draft. Rock was also selected in the second round of the 1963 AFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs.
During Rock’s time with Washington, his win/loss record was 48-33, and during which he made it to Super Bowl VII. Before losing 14-7 to the Miami Dolphins in the Super Bowl, the 1972 Redskins won the divisional playoffs versus the Green Bay Packers 16-3, and were conference champions by defeating the Dallas Cowboys 26-3. As a member of the “Over-the-Hill Gang,” Walter prospered on the Redskins in their “all-star” years. Even before his all-star team developed under coach George Allen, he was picked in only his second year in the National Football League for the 1965 Pro-Bowl. Playing for the Eastern Conference, they lost to the Western Conference 34-14.
Miami Dolphins Super Bowl VII champions
|Division championships (13)|
|Conference championships (5)|
|League championships (2)|
|Current league affiliations|
|Former league affiliation|
Championship seasons in bold
|Division championships (14)|
|Conference championships (5)|
|League championships (5)|
|Hall of Fame players|
|Current league affiliations|
Championship seasons in bold
National Football League Championship Games (1933–present)
|NFL Championship Game|
|AFL Championship Game|
|AFL-NFL World Championship Games |
1 – From 1966 to 1969, the first four Super Bowls were "World Championship" games played between two independent professional football leagues, AFL and NFL, and when the league merged in 1970 the Super Bowl became the NFL Championship Game.
2 – Dates in the list denote the season, not the calendar year in which the championship game was played. For instance, Super Bowl XLI was played in 2007, but was the championship for the 2006 season.
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