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1972 Miami Dolphins season: Wikis


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1972 Miami Dolphins season
Head coach Don Shula
Home field Miami Orange Bowl
Record 14-0
Place 1st AFC East
Playoff finish Won Divisional Playoffs (Browns) 20-14
Won Conference Championship (Steelers) 21-17
Won Super Bowl VII (Redskins) 14-7
Previous season Next season
1971 1973

The 1972 Miami Dolphins is the only National Football League team to have a "perfect season", and win the Super Bowl, following the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. Their undefeated campaign was led by coach Don Shula and notable teammates Bob Griese, Earl Morrall, and Larry Csonka (among many others). This team went 14-0 in the regular season (prior to the extension of the regular season by the NFL), and won all three playoff games, including Super Bowl VII against the Washington Redskins, for a season record of 17-0. Although the New England Patriots were at one time 18-0 (only undefeated 16 game regular season) they went on to lose Super Bowl XLII against the New York Giants. As of 2009, the 1972 Dolphins remain the only NFL team to complete an entire season undefeated from the opening regular season game through the Super Bowl. In addition, the Dolphins continued their winning streak into the 1973 season by extending it to 18 straight games. They finally broke their streak by losing in the second week.

During the 1972 season, Bob Griese's ankle was broken while being sacked by defensive tackle Ron East in Week 5 against the San Diego Chargers and was replaced by veteran Earl Morrall for the rest of the regular season, with Griese returning to the field as a substitute during the AFC Championship game versus the Pittsburgh Steelers and would once again start 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, 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.


Regular season



Week Date Opponent Result
1 September 17, 1972 at Kansas City Chiefs W 20-10
2 September 24, 1972 Houston Oilers W 34-13
3 October 1, 1972 at Minnesota Vikings W 16-14
4 October 8, 1972 at New York Jets W 27-17
5 October 15, 1972 San Diego Chargers W 24-10
6 October 22, 1972 Buffalo Bills W 24-23
7 October 29, 1972 at Baltimore Colts W 23-0
8 November 5, 1972 at Buffalo Bills W 30-16
9 November 12, 1972 New England Patriots W 52-0
10 November 19, 1972 New York Jets W 28-24
11 November 27, 1972 St. Louis Cardinals W 31-10
12 December 3, 1972 at New England Patriots W 37-21
13 December 10, 1972 at New York Giants W 23-13
14 December 16, 1972 Baltimore Colts W 16-0


Week Date Opponent Result
1 December 24, 1972 Cleveland Browns W 20-14
2 December 31, 1972 at Pittsburgh Steelers W 21-17
3 January 14, 1973 N Washington Redskins W 14-7


AFC East
Miami Dolphins 14 0 0 1.000 385 171
New York Jets 7 7 0 .500 367 324
Baltimore Colts 5 9 0 .357 235 252
Buffalo Bills 4 9 1 .321 257 377
New England Patriots 3 11 0 .214 192 446

Urban legend

There is an urban legend that every season, whenever the last remaining undefeated NFL team loses its first game, all the surviving members of the 1972 Miami Dolphins open bottles of champagne in celebration. Coach Don Shula tried to play down the myth by saying that two players, Dick Anderson and Nick Buoniconti, who live near each other sometimes have a toast together.[1][2] However, in a college football broadcast on ABC, following the loss of an undefeated team, Bob Griese commented that he called up former Dolphins, and they had Diet Cokes together, after being asked by his colleague. That celebration comes with the connotation that they no longer drink alcoholic beverages, but that a toast was customary.

The perfect season

The 1972 Undefeated Team on the Miami Dolphin Honor Roll at Dolphin Stadium.

The 1972 Miami Dolphins were the first team to execute a perfect regular season in the modern, post-Merger NFL. They are the only team in NFL history to go undefeated in the regular season and playoffs (doing so in the current era would imply going 19-0, a mark yet unreached). Prior to them, only two NFL teams had earned perfect regular seasons according to modern standards: the 1934 and 1942 Chicago Bears, who went 13-0 and 11-0 respectively. Both times, the Bears lost in the NFL Championship Game, denying themselves a completely perfect season. The 1920 Akron Pros, 1922 and 1923 Canton Bulldogs, and 1929 Green Bay Packers also accomplished "perfect" seasons per the standards of that era, as tie games were not counted in NFL standings until 1972. All of these teams did have one or more ties during their season. (Because ties were not included in standings at the time, these teams had no reason to attempt to avoid those ties in order to maintain the "perfectness" of their seasons.) The Cleveland Browns accomplished an undefeated season in 1948, but as members of the All-America Football Conference, going 14-0 in the regular season and beating the Buffalo Bills for the AAFC Championship. The 2007 New England Patriots completed the only perfect 16 game regular season to date, but finished 18-1 following a Super Bowl XLII loss to the New York Giants.

Aside from the Patriots, the 1998 Broncos,[3] the 2005 Colts[4] and the 2009 Colts[5] came the closest to matching the 1972 Dolphins. The '98 Broncos and '05 Colts won their first 13 games before losing their next two. The '09 Colts went 14-0 before losing to the NY Jets. Also, four teams have had regular seasons of 15-1, two of which have won the Super Bowl, finishing with 18-1 overall records: the 1984 San Francisco 49ers and the 1985 Chicago Bears (who coincidently lost to the Dolphins); the other two, who went 16-2 overall, are the 2004 Pittsburgh Steelers, who lost the AFC Championship Game to the New England Patriots, and the 1998 Minnesota Vikings, who fell to the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Game. Also of note are the 1976 Oakland Raiders, who, following a 13-1 regular season, won the Super Bowl for an overall 16-1 record.

Notes and references

External links

AFC East Central West East Central West NFC
Baltimore Cincinnati Denver Dallas Chicago Atlanta
Buffalo Cleveland Kansas City NY Giants Detroit Los Angeles
Miami Houston Oakland Philadelphia Green Bay New Orleans
New England Pittsburgh San Diego St. Louis Minnesota San Francisco
NY Jets Washington
1972 NFL DraftNFL PlayoffsPro BowlSuper Bowl VII


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