Super Bowl VII Review: Miami Dolphins vs. Washington Redskins
By Loot, NFL Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Date: January 14, 1973
Site: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, California
Point-Spread: Washington Redskins -1/Miami Dolphins +1
Score: Miami Dolphins 14, Washington Redskins 7
MVP: S Jake Scott
Super Bowl VII was historic for a few reasons. It was the first and only time an unbeaten NFL champion had been crowned, with Miami going 17-0 for the whole season. Super Bowl 1973 was also the lowest-scoring Super Bowl of all time--with only 21 points of combined scoring. In addition, the Redskins were held scoreless until 2:07 in the 4th quarter and scored no points with their offense.
Looking back, with Miami going for an unbeaten season, it is surprising that the Redskins were actually slightly favored. Despite the fact that the AFC had split the first 6 Super Bowls with the NFC, there was still some favoritism for the old league. Nevertheless, the Redskins were a vastly improved franchise, going 11-3 after being 6-8 just two years previously. Head coach George Allen had pumped some wind into the sails of this veteran squad and many fancied their chances.
Miami continued the trend of teams needing to get their feet wet in Super Bowl action before actually winning it. The Chiefs had lost, only to come back and win. The Colts, upset by the Jets in the third superbowl, came back two years later to beat the Cowboys. Dallas, in turn, came back the following year to set the record straight.
After beating the Packers in the playoffs, the Redskins beat the defending champion Cowboys in the NFC title game to get in the Bowl. Miami beat Cleveland and Pittsburgh in the AFC championship game, paving the way for them to cap an unbeaten season in Super Bowl 7. Miami had almost 3000 yards rushing on the year, with Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris both going over 1000. Resurgent Earl Morrall, the former Colt, had replaced Griese during the year and done very well. But Griese was pegged to start the big game and looked to have a better Super Bowl Sunday, after leading his team to only 3 points the previous year to the Cowboys’ vaunted defense.
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Super Bowl VII Recap
First Half: The game started off defensively with neither team able to establish much in the way of offense. With a little over 2 minutes left in the first quarter, Griese started moving the ball. A nice pass play to Paul Warfield got them into Redskins’ territory. Griese then completed a pass to Howard Twilley, who dragged a defender into the end zone for a 28-yard touchdown play. The score was 7-0.
Miami safety Jake Scott, who won the Super Bowl MVP, picked off Billy Kilmer’s pass on the Redskins’ next drive, but the ensuing Miami drive led to a punt. The Redskins again stalled out and had to give the ball right back. It looked like Miami had scored another touchdown on a 47-yard strike from Griese to Warfield, but it was called back on a penalty. The Redskins then got the ball and finally took it into Miami territory. But Miami LB Nick Bouniconti intercepted the pass and returned it to the Washington 27. After a few run plays, Griese completed his perfect passing half when he got to the ball to tight end Jim Mandich, who brought it all the way to the Washington 2-yard line. With time running out in the first half, Jim Kiick pounded it in from the 1-yard line, sending the Dolphins up 14-0.
Second Half:The offenses would take the balance of the afternoon off, as defense ruled the day in the second half. Washington had their chances, but missed field goals and stalled drives kept them off the board. But the Redskins hung in there. Miami got deep, on a 49-yard run by Csonka, but Griese was picked off to keep Washington in the hunt. Early in the 4th, Washington again got deep into Miami territory, before Jake Scott picked off another Kilmer pass and returned it 55 yards.
Later in the game, things got a little sticky. Yarpemian was going for a field goal to put Miami up 17-0 when it got blocked. He could have fallen on it, but tried to make something happen and failed miserably, batting the ball into the hands of Washington defender Mike Bass, who returned it for a touchdown to make it 14-7 with a little over two minutes left. They kicked it deep instead of going for an onside kick and actually forced Miami to punt, getting the ball back with over a minute left on their own 34. Miami’s “D” held firm and the Redskins offense, which couldn’t score for the entire game, again got shut down as time ran out. Miami had achieved perfection--something that hasn’t been duplicated to this day.