Dissecting Super Bowl VII: Miami’s Almost Perfect Super Bowl

On January 14, 1973, the Miami Dolphins completed a seemingly impossible dream by defeating the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII by a score of 14-7. The win put a capper on Miami’s perfect 17-0 season, a record of success that has yet to be equaled in pro football history.

That 1972 undefeated season of the Dolphins has been dissected by many over the years. In this episode of my podcast, I would like to take a closer look at that Super Bowl VII game, and to address some unique aspects to it. Keep in mind that the points that I discuss here rank in no particular order of importance. 


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Unique Aspects of Super Bowl VII

The game’s final score of 14-7 suggests that the contest was a defensive battle, and the facts bear that out, at least for the most part. Like most games, the final statistics tell a lot about what happened. Miami’s offense gained a total of 253 net yards, while Washington’s offense gained a total of 228 net yards. 

Those numbers suggest a very competitive game, and it was. What is quite astounding was that Miami was regarded by the Las Vegas oddsmakers as the underdog going into Super Bowl VII, despite the fact that they had won their previous 16 straight games. I don’t know why the oddsmakers picked the Redskins to be the favorites for this game, but they did.

Prior to the game, reserve Redskins defensive lineman Manny Sistrunk decided to run his mouth, saying that he was going to run over Miami’s All-Pro offensive guard Larry Little. During the first half, Little proceeded to pound Sistrunk into the ground. 

On the game’s winning touchdown, a 1-yard run by Dolphins running back Jim Kiick in the second quarter, Little steamrolled Sistrunk, thereby giving Kiick enough room to get into the end zone. By the third quarter, Washington’s defensive coaches decided to move Sistrunk to the other defensive tackle position, in the hopes that he would have better luck going up against Little’s teammate, Bob Kuechenberg. Sistrunk faired no better going up against Kuechenberg than he did going up against Larry Little.

Jim Kiick and Larry Csonka
Photo courtesy Mark Morthier's private collection of Jim Kiick and Larry Csonka (Miami Dolphins running backs) football cards

Miami running back Larry Csonka’s rushing yardage is one of the more overlooked elements of this game. Csonka slowly and methodically rushed for 112 yards in Super Bowl VII, but that statistic was overshadowed by his 145 yards rushing in Super Bowl VIII, a game where Csonka was named as the game’s Most Valuable Player. 

It was Csonka who kept Dolphin drives alive, especially during the second half. Yes, Miami did not score a single point in the second half of Super Bowl VII. But they used up plenty of time, which certainly helped the Dolphins’ cause.

One hard to believe factor with this game was that Washington accumulated 16 first downs, while Miami only had 12. Another unique statistic in Super Bowl VII involved the two punters. Dolphins punter Larry Seiple punted for an average of 43 yards per punt, while Redskins punter Mike Bragg only had a 31 yards-per-punt average.

Now the most memorable play that everyone talks about when they discuss Super Bowl VII was Garo Yepremian’s blocked 42-yard field goal attempt in the fourth quarter. We have all seen the film of Yepremian trying in vain to throw the ball, which was caught and returned for a touchdown by Washington defender Mike Bass. 

But did you know that Yepremian’s kick was actually blocked by the back of someone’s head? It’s true! Washington defensive tackle Bill Brundidge somehow had his body twisted around, and as Yepremian kicked the ball, he kicked it low…low enough to thud against the back of Bill Brundidge’s head! It was just one of the most strange and unusual plays in a somewhat strange and unusual Super Bowl.

Trivia Question:

Who was the holder for Garo Yepremian’s failed field goal attempt in Super Bowl VII?

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Host of Pro Football in the 1970s - Joe Zagorski

Throughout his days, Joe spent some time as a sportswriter and has been a member of the Pro Football Researchers Association since the mid-1980s.  Joe is also a proud member of the Pro Football Writers of America.



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