Getting a perfect season in the NFL is largely unheard of unless you were part of the 1972 Miami Dolphins team. The Super Bowl odds from that season must have been going crazy in the best possible way. What was it about that season that saw a team rise to the best triumph? Was it their fearless coach? Or were the players the ones who said, “Right, let’s make this the best season ever”? We are going to look at the Miami Dolphins’ story of the perfect season.

Where it began

The team of 1972 carried out a feat no other team has ever matched. It begs the question, would it be possible today? And did the team have a winning formula back then that could be applied today? Or was it just sheer brilliant skill? Let’s have a look. Before this 1972 team were the legends they would become, the team’s first four years were played in the AFL under head coach George Wilson. The team was performing dismally with losing streak after losing streak. Yet, when they entered the NFL in 1970, things took a turn for the positive.

The first positive step was poaching Baltimore Colts head coach Don Shula. And this would prove vital since Shula came with a wave of energy and experience the team rightfully needed. The same year the team joined the NFL, they improved by seven wins and reached the playoffs. The following year, they improved again and won the AFC East; this saw them go up against the Dallas Cowboys for Super Bowl VI, which they, unfortunately, lost 24 – 3. But this is precisely what they needed to push them into the perfect season.

The games

For 14 weeks, the Miami Dolphins battled it out to reach the divisional, AFC Championship, and Super Bowl VII in 1972. Here are the games that made it a reality.

  • Week 1 Kansas City Chiefs: The season opener for the team saw them deliver a satisfying 20 – 10 victory.
  • Week 2 Houston Oilers: This one came with some obstacles, but the Dolphins delivered a 27-13 win.
  • Week 3 Minnesota Vikings: The first match-up between the two sides saw the Vikings lead 7-0 by halftime. It was short-lived, though, as the Dolphins managed a narrow 16-14 victory.
  • Week 4 New York Jets: After the Jets took an early lead, the Dolphins managed to claw back some hope, led 14-17 by halftime, and ultimately won the game 27-17.
  • Week 5 San Diego Chargers: This game was much easier since the Dolphins won 24-10. This gave them an undefeated streak of five but cost the team Bob Griese who broke his ankle. He would be replaced by Earl Morrall for the regular season.
  • Week 6 Buffalo Bills: Their interdivisional rivals made this one tough match that nearly saw the Dolphins lose; however, they pulled off a narrow 24-23 defeat.
  • Week 7 Baltimore Colts: The Dolphins shined in each quarter and managed a clean 23-0 victory.
  • Week 8 Buffalo Bills: The team’s streak was now sitting on seven, and after beating the Bills 30-16, it moved to eight.
  • Week 9 New England Patriots: To say the Dolphins annihilated the Patriots is an understatement. The final score was 52-0.
  • Week 10 New York Jets: This was a tough one, but the team managed to secure a 28-24 victory.
  • Week 11 St. Louis Cardinals: The team had this one down and managed to defeat the Cardinals 31-10.
  • Week 12 New England Patriots: The Patriots were out for revenge, and by the fourth quarter, they were hammering down, but the Dolphins were yet again victorious with a 37-21 score.
  • Week 13 New York Giants: In the first and second quarters the sides were pretty much neck and neck, but by the fourth quarter, the Dolphins led by six that resulted in a 23-13 victory.
  • Week 14 Baltimore Colts: In the final game before the divisional, the team was yet again triumphant with a 16-0 win.

The full play was truly something spectacular only 50 years ago! The perfect story, the perfect season, the perfect team!

What came next

Next up was divisional against the Cleveland Browns. For the most part, it was a tough game, and the Dolphins had a 14-game winning streak under their belts. Luckily, their 20-14 victory led them straight to the AFC Championship against the Pittsburgh Steelers. They beat the team 21-17. Then came the ultimate challenge of strength, ingenuity, and strategy; Super Bowl VII against the Washington Redskins. The Miami Dolphins exceeded all expectations and won Super Bowl VII 14-7. A 17-winning streak season, the perfect season!

No easy feat

In week 5, Bob Griese broke his ankle, and was replaced by Earl Morrall for the regular season who eventually won the award for Comeback Player of The Year. Morrall was 38 years old at the time. Running Backs Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris both rushed 1000 yards in the 1972 season. Larry announced earlier this year he would be publishing a memoir, which will include highlights from Don Shula – who won the award for Coach of the year.