On this first Friday in April, after a pivotal month of March in Miami, it’s a perfect time to reflect on the Dolphins’ banner feat—the 1972 undefeated season.
It was 50 years ago that head coach Don Shula and his Dolphins steamrolled through the NFL to lead 17–0, capping the only perfect season in NFL history, with a 14–7 Super Bowl victory over the Washington Redskins.
A team filled with Hall of Fame players such as Bob Griese, Larry Tsonka, Paul Warfield, Jim Ledger, Larry Little and Nick Buoniconti helped lead the Dolphins to supremacy. They were the NFL’s top-ranked offense and defense in 1927, shutting down their opponents three times during that season.
In 17 games, including after the season, Miami’s outright defense only conceded 20 or more points on three occasions. When the season arrived in mid-October, the Dolphins’ defense hit its stride. From Week 6 to Week 19, Miami allowed no more than 100 passing yards. He made 46 turnovers in the regular season, and in the playoffs, the Dolphins’ defensive unit scored 10 turnovers, including three in the Super Bowl.
The Dolphins had the offensive magic of the perfect backfield, led by Ohio’s own Sonaka. Mercury Morris was charismatic and ran back to play with Sonka. The duo had more than 1,000 yards in the regular season, which was just 14 games. The gym kick added a complimentary punch to Shula’s flamboyant attack, as the trio combined for 2,638 yards and 23 touchdowns on the ground.
As for the passing attack, Griese started the season with five straight wins before injury-hit veteran quarterback Earl Morall took the reins, and he did so, well, totally.
Moral broke a 9–0 record in his 17th professional season to help Miami lose a step in their quest to return to the Super Bowl. The 1971 team lost 24–3 to the Dallas Cowboys. Making it back in 1973 for the Shula and Dolphins in two consecutive Super Bowls, the franchise’s only win in the big game. While they made two more appearances for Miami in the 1980s, they were not able to capture another Lombardi Trophy.
The 1972 Dolphins have been a timeless tribute and a major source of pride for the organization and their loyal fans and supporters. Whether it’s re-watching the highlights of a beautiful battlefield spoofing a perfect pass from Griese in the championship game, or watching Ksonka run through a potential tackler, or falling unbeaten for the last time in today’s game. After the simple joy of a cork-popping soundbite, that team continues to provide this community with pride.
In a season of new hope in South Florida, with this special anniversary of perfection, perhaps magic is in the air at Miami Gardens, as the ghosts of 1972 will, undoubtedly, be on edge in 2022, in person and all. in spirit.