The 1972 Miami Dolphins are the NFL benchmark for success and a great source of pride for all Dolfans. In the 35+ years since the perfect season no other team has been able successfully run the table and join the 72 Dolphins as undefeated. Several have come close, most notably the 85 Bears and the 07 Patriots but neither team was able to achieve perfection as the Dolphins had done.
After being humiliated by the Dallas Cowboys 24-3 in the Super Bowl the Miami Dolphins entered the 72 season with a chip on their shoulder; they had something to prove. They didn’t set out to go undefeated; they just played every game with intensity and everything fell into place. Players had no idea of the enormity of the perfect season they just wanted to get back to the big game and win it.
The 72 team was built on a power running game led by Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris and a stout defense made up of “no namers” who excelled as a unit. This formula would prove important as starting Quarterback, Bob Griese, would go down in the 5th game with a broken leg. Earl Morrall, a 38 year old backup, substituted for Griese leading the team into the playoffs while not losing a single game. Griese returned for his first start to defeat the Redskins in the Super Bowl.
Shula, in reflecting on the championship game that year, said that when the team was up over the Redskins 14–0 he had thoughts of finishing the game 17-0 , matching what would be their record, when he decided to kick the field goal which became one of the more infamous plays in Dolphin history. The field goal was blocked and rather than simply fall on it kicker, Garo “I kick a touchdown” Yepremian, picked up the ball and tried to pass it down field. The ball slipped out of his hand and was batted into the arms of Redskins cornerback Mike Bass,who ran the ball back 49 yards, cutting the lead in half.
Luckily for Yepremian the Dolphins were able to hang on and defeat the Washington Redskin 14-7 to preserve their undefeated season by winning the Super Bowl.
Over the years many have argued that the 72 Dolphins were not the greatest NFL team ever and on paper they may not have been. Even so, no other team since has accomplished what the 72 Dolphins did in winning every game. As Csonka once said, "Perfection ends a lot of arguments." One day a team may indeed join them in “Perfectville” but they will always be the first.