1,000-yard Duo: Csonka and Morris

The 1972 Miami Dolphins featured a “no-name” defense and an offense that relied heavily on the run despite the fact that their quarterback Bob Griese and main wide receiver, Paul Warfield , were future Hall of Famers. The unique blend of talent led them to a perfect 17-0 record that included a victory in Super Bowl VII. 

Kiick_Morris_and_Csonka

Kiick, Morris, and Csonka

Carrying the load, and the football, that season was trio of running backs – Larry Csonka, Eugene “Mercury” Morris, and Jim Kiick – that helped the Dolphins break the NFL record for rushing yards in a season held since 1936 by the Detroit Lions. (Related story: Milestone: Single season rushing record).  

While Kiick gained a respectable 521 yards, it was the tandem of Csonka and Morris that made history. Csonka, the Hall of Fame fullback, led the Dolphins in rushing with 1,117 yards on 213 carries and scored 6 TDs. Meanwhile, Morris rushed for an even 1,000 yards and scored a then-club record 12 touchdowns. By doing so, Csonka and Morris became the first set of runners from the same team to rush for 1,000 yards in the same season.

That feat has been accomplished just three other times – Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1976; the Cleveland Browns’ Kevin Mack and Earnest Byner in 1985; and the Atlanta Falcons Warrick Dunn and Michael Vick in 2006.

Rewriting History

Talk about rewriting history, that’s exactly what happened in 1972. Five days after the completion of the regular season, Mercury Morris received some good news and also helped him make history – twice!

Mercury_Morris

Mercury Morris

Morris finished the ’72 campaign just short of the 1,000-yard plateau. However, it was discovered that a statistician’s error on a lateral play from a game earlier in the season resulted in having nine yards subtracted from his rushing total. After further review, Pete Rozelle’s office informed Morris that he was, in fact, a 1,000-yard rusher after the league credited the yardage to his total.

With the adjustment, it not only allowed Csonka and Morris to make history as the league’s first-ever 1,000-yard duo from the same team in the same season, but recognized Morris as the ball-carrier on the play that set the team rushing mark.

In the season finale against the Baltimore Colts, Dolphins’ quarterback Earl Morrall scrambled five yards on a play that was believed to have broken the single season team rushing mark mentioned above. But, with the nine-yard adjustment in the rushing statistics, Morrall’s carry was not the record maker. Rather, that moment occurred three plays earlier on an eight-yard sweep by Morris.

 

Date Opponent
No.
Yds.
Avg.
TD
No.
Yds.
Avg.
TD
9/17/72 at Kansas City
21
118
5.6
1
14
67
4.8
0
9/24/72 HOUSTON
17
79
4.6
1
15
94
6.3
1
10/1/72 at Minnesota
10
66
6.6
0
8
28
3.5
0
10/8/72 at NYJ
18
102
5.7
0
3
6
2.0
0
10/15/72 SAN DIEGO
13
70
5.4
0
8
44
5.5
0
10/22/72 BUFFALO
18
107
5.9
1
5
35
7.0
2
10/29/72 at Baltimore
19
93
4.9
2
11
71
6.5
1
11/5/72 at Buffalo
17
72
4.2
0
11
106
9.6
2
11/12/72 NEW ENGLAND
5
32
6.4
1
16
90
5.6
3
11/19/72 NYJ
17
72
4.2
0
23
107
4.7
2
11/26/72 ST. LOUIS
16
114
7.1
0
16
55
3.4
0
12/3/72 at New England
15
91
6.1
0
15
113
7.5
0
12/10/72 at NYG
9
30
3.3
0
19
98
5.2
1
12/17/72 BALTIMORE
18
71
3.9
0
26
86
3.3
0
Total
213
1,117
5.2
6
190
1,000
5.3
12

 


 

1,000-yard Duos:
1972 Dolphins - Csonka and Morris
1976 Steelers - Harris and Bleier
1985 Browns - Mack and Byner
 2006 Falcons - Dunn and Vick
 2008 Giants - Jacobs and Ward

2009 Panthers - Williams and Stewart


Csonka, Larry, Harris, Franco, Rozelle, Pete, Warfield, Paul
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