1972 Miami Dolphins season

1972 Miami Dolphins season
1972 Miami Dolphins season
Head coach Don Shula
Home field Miami Orange Bowl
Record 14–0–0
Division 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 are the only National Football League team to have a "perfect season", and win the Super Bowl, or NFL Championship. The undefeated campaign was led by coach Don Shula and notable players 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 to 16 games in 1978 by the NFL), and won all three post-season games, including Super Bowl VII against the Washington Redskins, to finish 17–0. As of 2010, the 1972 Dolphins remain the only NFL team to complete an entire season undefeated from the opening game through the Super Bowl (or championship game). In addition, the Dolphins continued their winning streak into the 1973 season to 18 straight games, before losing in the second week.

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. He was replaced by veteran Earl Morrall for the rest of the regular season. Griese returned to the field as a substitute during 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, 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.[1]


Regular season


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


Game Date Opponent Result
Divisional playoffs December 24, 1972 Cleveland Browns W 20–14
Conference championship December 31, 1972 at Pittsburgh Steelers W 21–17
Super Bowl VII January 14, 1973 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.[2][3] However, in a college football broadcast on ABC, following the loss of an undefeated team, Bob Griese, after being asked by his colleague, commented that he called former Dolphins, and they had Diet Cokes together. That celebration comes with the connotation that they no longer drink alcoholic beverages, but that a toast was customary.[citation needed]

The perfect season

Dolphins Honor Roll3.jpg

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 postseason.

An enduring controversy is that the 1972 Dolphins played a soft schedule not possible under the current scheduling formula. Prior to the implementation of position scheduling in 1978, opponents were set by the NFL on a rotating basis. Statistically, the Dolphin’s 1972 schedule was one of the weakest played by any team in many years. Their regular-season opponents had an aggregate winning percentage of .396 and only two opponents had winning records that year (both were 8–6). However, the NFL's rules at the time also forced the undefeated Dolphins to play in Pittsburgh for the AFC Championship Game, an obstacle subsequent rule changes ensured no team with a superior record would face again, and the Dolphins won the game on the road to reach the Super Bowl.

Other teams are occasionally cited as undefeated based on their regular season record. Among these are:

  • 1920 Akron Pros, 8–0–3 (originally 8-0, until the NFL retroactively included ties as part of a team's standings in 1972)
  • 1922 Canton Bulldogs, 10–0–2 (originally 10-0, until the NFL retroactively included ties as part of a team's standings in 1972)
  • 1923 Canton Bulldogs, 11–0–1 (originally 11-0, until the NFL retroactively included ties as part of a team's standings in 1972)
  • 1929 Green Bay Packers, 12–0–1 (previously 12-0, until the NFL retroactively included ties as part of a team's standings in 1972)
  • 1934 Chicago Bears, 13–0, lost championship game
  • 1942 Chicago Bears, 11–0, lost championship game
  • 1948 Cleveland Browns, 14–0, as members of All-America Football Conference prior to joining NFL
  • 2007 New England Patriots, 16–0, lost Super Bowl XLII

Teams since 1972 which have come close to matching the perfect season are:

Television coverage

Remarkably, fans in the Miami area could not catch the home games on television – they either had to be there at the games, listen to the radio, or travel to watch the games on TV.

1972 was the last year that all home games were blacked out on local television even if they did sell out. Super Bowl VII, in fact, was the first game to be televised in the market of origin under new rules which would come into effect the following season – games must be sold out within 72 hours of kickoff time in order to be aired in the market of origin. As all Super Bowls except the first have sold out, none have been blacked out since (tickets sell out rather quickly due to high demand to see such a major game).

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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