1973 Miami Dolphins season

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1973 Miami Dolphins season
Head coach Don Shula
Owner Joe Robbie
Home field Miami Orange Bowl
Results
Record 12–2
Division place 1st AFC East
Playoff finish Won Divisional Playoffs (Bengals) 34–16
Won Conference Championship (Raiders) 27–10
Won Super Bowl VIII (Vikings) 24–7
Timeline
Previous season Next season
< 1972 1974 >

The 1973 Miami Dolphins season was the franchise’s eighth, and fourth in the National Football League. The team entered the 1973 season as defending Super Bowl champions, with an undefeated 14–0 regular season winning streak the previous season, and a final 17–0 record including post-season and Super Bowl VII victory.

The team won the AFC East, and defeated the Minnesota Vikings in the league’s eighth Super Bowl. It was the Dolphins’ second-consecutive (and last)[1] Super Bowl victory.

Season Summary[edit]

Although the Dolphins were unable to match their 17–0 perfect season of 1972, many sports writers, fans, and Dolphins players themselves felt that the 1973 team was better. While the 1972 team faced no competition in the regular season that had a record of better than 8–6, the 1973 team played against a much tougher schedule that included games against the Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Dallas Cowboys (all playoff teams), plus two games against a resurgent Bills squad that featured 2,000-yard rusher O.J. Simpson. Miami finished with a 12–2 regular season, including their opening game victory over the San Francisco 49ers that tied an NFL record with eighteen consecutive wins. The Dolphins’ streak ended in week two with a 12–7 loss to the Raiders in Berkeley, California.

Just like the two previous seasons, Miami’s offense relied primarily on their rushing attack. Fullback Larry Csonka recorded his third consecutive 1,000 rushing yard season (1,003 yards), while running back Mercury Morris rushed for 954 yards and scored 10 touchdowns. Running back Jim Kiick was also a key contributor, rushing for 257 yards, and catching 27 passes for 208 yards. Quarterback Bob Griese, the AFC's second leading passer, completed only 116 passes for 1,422 yards, but threw about twice as many touchdown passes (17) as interceptions (8), and earned an 84.3 passer rating. Wide receiver Paul Warfield remained the main deep threat on the team, catching 29 passes for 514 yards and 11 touchdowns. The offensive line remained strong led by center Jim Langer and right guard Larry Little. Griese, Csonka, Warfield, Langer, and Little would all eventually be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Miami’s “No Name Defense” continued to dominate their opponents. Future Hall of Fame linebacker Nick Buoniconti recovered three fumbles and returned one for a touchdown. Safety Dick Anderson led the team with eight interceptions, which he returned for 163 yards and two touchdowns. And safety Jake Scott, the previous season's Super Bowl MVP, had four interceptions and 71 return yards. The Dolphins were still using their “53” defense devised at the beginning of the 1972 season, where Bob Matheson (#53) would be brought in as a fourth linebacker in a 3–4 defense, with Manny Fernandez at nose tackle. Matheson could either rush the quarterback or drop back into coverage.

In 2007, ESPN.com ranked the 1973 Dolphins as the eight-greatest defense in NFL history,[2] noting that the team “held 11 opponents to 14 points or less, setting a record by allowing just 150 points in a 14-game season”. Defensive end Bill Stanfill set a Dolphins’ sack record that still stands, with 18.5. In the playoffs and Super Bowl, they allowed only 33 points against Cincinnati, Oakland and Minnesota. Stanfill, Manny Fernandez, Hall of Fame middle linebacker Nick Buoniconti, and safeties Dick Anderson (AP Defensive Player of the Year) and Jake Scott were all named to the 1973 All-Pro team. They also held record-breaking rusher O.J. Simpson to his lowest total yardage of the season, a mere 55 yards in Week Six.

Offseason[edit]

NFL Draft[edit]

Schedule[edit]

Week Date Opponent Result Attendance
1 September 16, 1973 San Francisco 49ers W 21–13
68,275
2 September 23, 1973 at Oakland Raiders L 7–12
74,121
3 September 30, 1973 New England Patriots W 44–23
62,508
4 October 7, 1973 New York Jets W 31–3
63,850
5 October 15, 1973 at Cleveland Browns W 17–9
70,070
6 October 21, 1973 Buffalo Bills W 27–6
65,241
7 October 28, 1973 at New England Patriots W 30–14
57,617
8 November 4, 1973 at New York Jets W 24–14
57,791
9 November 11, 1973 Baltimore Colts W 44–0
60,332
10 November 18, 1973 at Buffalo Bills W 17–0
77,138
11 November 22, 1973 at Dallas Cowboys W 14–7
58,089
12 December 3, 1973 Pittsburgh Steelers W 30–26
68,901
13 December 9, 1973 at Baltimore Colts L 3–16
58,446
14 December 15, 1973 Detroit Lions W 34–7
53,375

Game summaries[edit]

Week 1[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
49ers 3 7 3 0 13
Dolphins 3 3 0 15 21

[3]


Week 4[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Jets 0 0 0 3 3
• Dolphins 14 10 7 0 31

[4]


Week 8[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
• Dolphins 7 7 10 0 24
Jets 0 14 0 0 14

[5]


Week 14[edit]

Week Fourteen: Detroit Lions (6–6–1) at Miami Dolphins (11–2)
1 2 3 4 Total
Lions 0 0 0 7 7
Dolphins 14 17 3 0 34

at Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida

Game information
First Quarter
  • MIA – Paul Warfield 21-yard pass from Bob Griese (Garo Yepremian kick) – Dolphins 7–0
  • MIA – Paul Warfield 7-yard pass from Bob Griese (Garo Yepremian kick) – Dolphins 14–0
Second Quarter
  • MIA – Garo Yepremian 27-yard field goal – Dolphins 17–0
  • MIA – Paul Warfield 16-yard pass from Bob Griese (Garo Yepremian kick) – Dolphins 24–0
  • MIA – Paul Warfield 4-yard pass from Bob Griese (Garo Yepremian kick) – Dolphins 31–0
Third Quarter
  • MIA – Garo Yepremian 28-yard field goal – Dolphins 34–0
Fourth Quarter
Lions
  • Bill Munson
    8/17, 73 Yds, INT
  • Steve Owens
    27 Rush, 113 Yds, TD
    6 Rec, 56 Yds
Dolphins
  • Bob Griese
    11/15, 141 Yds, 4 TD
  • Larry Csonka
    10 Rush, 51 Yds
  • Paul Warfield
    6 Rec, 103 Yds, 4 TD

Standings[edit]

AFC East
Team W L T PCT PF PA
Miami Dolphins 12 2 0 .857 343 150
Buffalo Bills 9 5 0 .643 259 230
New England Patriots 5 9 0 .357 258 300
New York Jets 4 10 0 .286 240 306
Baltimore Colts 4 10 0 .286 226 341

[6]

Postseason[edit]

AFC Divisional Playoff[edit]

Miami Dolphins 34, Cincinnati Bengals 16
1 2 3 4 Total
Bengals 3 13 0 0 16
Dolphins 14 7 10 3 34

at Miami Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida

The Dolphins outgained Cincinnati in total yards, 400–194, and first downs, 27–11, while also scoring on three of their first four possessions and shutting out the Bengals in the second half. The Dolphins racked up 241 yards on the ground, including 106 from Mercury Morris and 71 from Larry Csonka, while receiver Paul Warfield caught 5 passes for 95 yards and a score.

AFC Championship Game[edit]

Miami Dolphins 27, Oakland Raiders 10
1 2 3 4 Total
Raiders 0 0 10 0 10
Dolphins 7 7 3 10 27

at Miami Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida

Running back Larry Csonka led the Dolphins to a victory with 117 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns.Mercury Morris also ran for 86 yards.

Super Bowl VIII[edit]

Miami Dolphins 24, Minnesota Vikings 7
1 2 3 4 Total
Vikings (NFC) 0 0 0 7 7
Dolphins (AFC) 14 3 7 0 24

at Rice Stadium, Houston, Texas

Larry Csonka rushes for 145 yds on 33 carries and scores 2 TDs is named MVP.

Awards and honors[edit]

Notes and references[edit]