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1972 Miami Dolphins season

1972 Miami Dolphins season
Head coach Don Shula
Owner Joe Robbie
Home field Miami Orange Bowl
Record 14-0
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 season was the team’s seventh season, and third season in the National Football League. The 1972 Dolphins are the only National Football League 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.[1] In addition, the Dolphins continued their winning streak to 18 straight games (regular season and post-season), before losing in the second week of the 1973 season.

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 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, 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.[2]

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".[3][4]


  • Regular season 1
    • Preseason 1.1
    • Schedule 1.2
    • Game summaries 1.3
      • Week 4 1.3.1
    • Postseason 1.4
    • Standings 1.5
  • Urban legend 2
  • The perfect season 3
  • Television coverage 4
  • 2013 White House visit 5
  • Notes and references 6
  • External links 7

Regular season


Week Date Opponent Result Record
1 August 5, 1972 at Detroit Lions L 23–31 0–1
2 August 12, 1972 Green Bay Packers L 13–14 0–2
3 August 19, 1972 at Cincinnati Bengals W 35–17 1–2
4 August 25, 1972 Atlanta Falcons W 24–10 2–2
5 August 31, 1972 at Washington Redskins L 24–27 2–3
6 September 10, 1972 Minnesota Vikings W 21–19 3–3


Week Date Opponent Result Record Attendance
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 summaries

Week 4

1 2 3 4 Total
• Dolphins 0 14 3 10 27
Jets 7 0 3 7 17



Game Date Opponent Result Attendance
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.[6][7] 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.[8]

The perfect season

The 1972 team on the Miami Dolphins Honor Roll

The 1972 Miami Dolphins were the first team to execute a perfect regular season in the post-merger NFL. They are the only team in NFL history to go undefeated and untied 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.[9] Prior to the implementation of position scheduling in 1978, opponents were set by the NFL on a rotating basis. Statistically, the Dolphins’ 1972 regular-season opponents had an aggregate winning percentage of .397 and only two opponents had winning records that year (both were 8–6). This is not however a record: the 1975 Minnesota Vikings, who began 10–0 and finished 12–2, played fourteen opponents with an average winning percentage of .332 and nine of their games were against teams 4–10 or worse.[10]

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:

Teams since the first uniform 14-game regular season in 1961 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).

2013 White House visit

President Obama honoring the 1972 team at the White House in 2013

Four decades later in 2013, the team was invited by President Barack Obama to visit the White House. This occurred on August 20, where Obama noted that the team "never got their White House visit".[14] As to why this team had not been invited by President Richard Nixon in 1973, Larry Csonka stated that he did not feel neglected as it had not been a regular occurrence at the time.[15] However, MSNBC reported that this was a deliberate snub by Nixon who was a Redskins fan.[16] Obama had previously invited the '85 Bears to the White House, as their visit had gotten cancelled due to the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster by President Regan. President Obama, a Chicago resident and Bears fan,[17] had called them the greatest team ever, but during the Dolphins' visit he called his own words into question, also noting that the only loss the '85 Bears had was to the Dolphins.[18] Bob Kuechenberg, Jim Langer, and Manny Fernandez all refused to attend due to political differences with the Obama administration.[19]

Notes and references

  1. ^ The 2007 New England Patriots recorded the most wins in a season in NFL history by going 18–0 before losing to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII. The 2007 Patriots were able to record a better regular season than the 1972 Dolphins because the NFL lengthened it to 16 games in 1978.
  2. ^ "1972 Miami Dolphins Roster". Pro-Football-Reference. Sports Reference, LLC. Retrieved September 6, 2011. 
  3. ^ "President Obama Honors the 1973 Super Bowl Champion Miami Dolphins". August 20, 2013. Retrieved August 21, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Perfect 1972 Miami Dolphins Team Going to the White House". 
  5. ^ Retrieved 2014-Jul-28.
  6. ^ "ESPN – Shoes ... The Jaw ... by any name, Shula still the king – Columnist". February 1, 2007. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Urban Legends Reference Pages: 1972 Miami Dolphins Toast First Losses by Undefeated Teams". Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  8. ^ Caesar, Dan; “‘72 Dolphins share a Coke and a smile”; in St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 19, 1972; p. B8
  9. ^ Moulton, David. "David Moulton: A final salute to the 1972 Dolphins » Naples Daily News". Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  10. ^ 1975 Minnesota Vikings
  11. ^ a b "History Release » Undefeated seasons by the Bears". February 7, 2010. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  12. ^ "Monday Night Football – MNF’s Greatest Games: Chicago-Miami 1985". December 4, 2002. Retrieved August 3, 2012. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ "President Obama Honors the 1973 Super Bowl Champion Miami Dolphins". August 20, 2013. Retrieved August 21, 2013. 
  15. ^ "Csonka: '72 Dolphins still at the peak". August 20, 2013. Retrieved August 21, 2013. 
  16. ^ "40 yrs Later, Nixon Shunned '72 Dolphins Get White-House Respect". August 21, 2013. Retrieved August 21, 2013. 
  17. ^ Laura Miller (October 7, 2011). "1985 Chicago Bears Visit the White House | The White House". Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  18. ^ "President Obama Honors the 1973 Super Bowl Champion Miami Dolphins". August 20, 2013. Retrieved August 21, 2013. 
  19. ^ Dave Hyde (August 17, 2013). "At least three '72 Dolphins refuse White House invite". Retrieved October 28, 2013. 

External links

  • 1972 Miami Dolphins Season at Pro-Football Reference
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