The 1972 Dolphins won the Super Bowl ... and every other game

General Published on : 1/1/2005

he Anatomy of a Perfect Season ... that's the theme of the Pro Football Hall of Fame display that commemorates the magnificent record of the 1972 Miami Dolphins, when they became the first team in National Football League history to go through an entire season undefeated and untied.

Backup QB Earl Morrall in the Dolphins' 28-24 win over the New York Jets in 1972
The Dolphins' 17-0-0 season culminated with a 14-7 victory over the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII. It is a unique feat that has stood the test of time. Will there ever be another perfect season? Every year that passes makes the remarkable record seem less and less likely to be matched. The latest serious challenger was the 1998 Denver Broncos, who went 13-0 before finally falling to the New York Giants in Week 14, 20-16.

The 1972 season was legendary coach Don Shula's third with the Dolphins. Under his strict no-nonsense approach, the young Dolphins team gelled into a cohesive unit. Though the team featured players like Larry Csonka, Larry Little, Bob Griese, Jim Langer and Paul Warfield - all Hall of Famers - it was often contributions from the lesser-knowns that made the difference. In fact, the team featured a defense that, although very good, lacked "star-power." Capitalizing on their anonymity, they accepted the nickname the "No-Name Defense." Eventually, even the "No-Names" of middle linebacker Nick Buoniconti and defensive linemen Manny Fernandez and Bill Stanfill became familiar names.

In Week Five a name from the past surfaced when 38-year-old veteran quarterback Earl Morrall came off the bench to replace a severely injured Bob Griese. Morrall kept the unbeaten streak going through the remainder of the regular season and a 20-14 playoff victory over the Cleveland Browns. In Week 16, it was a healthy Bob Griese who came from the bench to direct his team to victory with a hard-fought 21-17 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Two weeks later, Griese started and finished Miami's 14-7 victory over the Redskins in Super Bowl VII.

For more on this historic season, check out the history section on the Dolphins' official web site.