On This Date 1971: The Longest Game Ever Played – Kansas City Chiefs v Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins outlasted the Kansas City Chiefs 27-24 in the longest game in NFL history. Christmas Day 1971 they played well into 6 quarters or more than 82 minutes of playing time.

Here at Taylor Blitz Times, we for one don’t like the fact the NFL buckled and gave in to juvenile thinking when it came to the NFL’s overtime rule. Everyone must touch the ball once?? What is this, second grade girl’s soccer??

don shulaOur CEO loved the thought of sudden death overtime. You had four full quarters to win a football game. The two point conversion was introduced in 1994 so that a team can win it in regulation yet NFL coaches are too soft and won’t roll the dice and win it in one play. If you don’t, you’re involved in a winner take all overtime where the game can be won on offense, defense, or special teams. Play was heightened with players realizing one mistake, a blown coverage, fumble, interception, or penalty could cost your team its season. It made for great theater.

One such game happened shortly after the AFL/NFL merger in 1970. The upstart Miami Dolphins were facing a perennial heavyweight in the Kansas City Chiefs in an AFC Divisional playoff.

Why do we mention the AFL??

For one, both teams were rooted in the rival league. Second, it was the Baltimore Colts with Head Coach Don Shula that lost Super Bowl III that legitimized the merger. In the aftermath of the Baltimore Colts’ embarrassment losing that game, Don Shula amid tense corporate pressure, decided to move on and take the head coaching job in Miami.  He quickly whipped the Dolphins into shape and they made the playoffs in each of his first two seasons there. In 1970 they were bested by a veteran Raider team in an AFC Divisional Playoff in Oakland and many felt the same way about them traveling to Kansas City for the ’71 playoff.

Another reason we mention the AFL was this was the last game ever to be played in Municipal Stadium. One of the AFL’s great stadiums through the 1960’s as the Kansas City Chiefs had been perennial winners there. It would be left behind as the Chiefs moved on to Arrowhead Stadium as the NFL moved on to future years of prosperity with new antiseptic ballparks.

The newer stadiums lacked individual culture as the 70’s dawned and it was as though teams were leaving a piece of their soul when they left old places behind. This was where Lamar Hunt had moved his team in 1963, to keep the fight along with league brothers against the NFL and won. Sure they were going to live on in the American Football Conference of the NFL, but it wasn’t going to be the same.

Ed Podolak's 350 all purpose yardage record in one NFL postseason game may never be broken.

Ed Podolak’s 350 all purpose yardage record in one NFL postseason game may never be broken.

The Kansas City Chiefs were an older team and 1972 would be their last hurrah. They had finished as the AFL’s winningest team going 87-48-3, appearing in the first Super Bowl, then winning the fourth edition over Minnesota down in New Orleans. The team had just parted ways with All-time All AFL DE Jerry Mays and team leader C/LB E.J. Holub to retirement  in 1970. Even RB Mike Garrett was gone to the San Diego Chargers by this time, replaced by Ed Podolak.

These men along with holdovers QB Len Dawson, WR Otis Taylor, LBs Bobby Bell, and Willie Lanier had led the Chiefs for much of the 1960s as they worked to get owner and AFL Founder Lamar Hunt that elusive Super Bowl trophy. They were an older team lead by Dawson 36 yrs of age, Taylor turning 30 within a year, Bobby Bell was 31 and FS Johnny Robinson was 33. Various retirements were coming but they had finished 1971 with a 10-3-1 record and if they could get through this postseason, win it all, then they could go their separate ways. All they had to do was get through Miami and…

After this game the Dolphins went on to defeat the Baltimore Colts 21-0 in the AFC Championship Game which put them in Super Bowl VI. It was further satisfying for Shula for he defeated Carroll Rosenbloom and the Colts for whom he once coached. In the same stadium as Super Bowl III no less. Within a year, Rosenbloom was so disenchanted with owning the Colts who would have to rebuild, he swapped franchises with Robert Irsay who owned the Los Angeles Rams. Within 6 years he would marry Georgia, drown and that is how Georgia Rosenbloom-Frontiere became owner of the Rams. All aftermath of Super Bowl III.

Don Shula’s Dolphins would lose Super Bowl VI but would return and win VII & VIII becoming one of the great teams in NFL history. He went on to coach Miami through the 1995 season where he went on to win more games than any other coach with 347 wins. This was his first postseason win with the Dolphins that launched them as an NFL elite member for many years to come.

The AFL Logo of the Kansas City Chiefs

The AFL Logo of the Kansas City Chiefs

As for the Chiefs, the mystique of who they were as an AFL power was gone as they would not return to the playoffs for 15 years. Len Dawson, Bobby Bell, and Head Coach Hank Stram went on to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. However Johnny Robinson and Jerry Mays have been glaring omissions.

Each of which played most of their careers over in the “other league” and have been treated like such by the writers who make up the voting panel for the Hall of Fame. The late Jerry Mays should have had that honor bestowed upon him before his death in 1994. Although he didn’t play in this game, the legacy /era of the old AFL Kansas City Chiefs closed Christmas of 1971.

The Miami Dolphins outlasted the Kansas City Chiefs 27-24 in the longest game in NFL history. Christmas Day 1971 they played well into 6 quarters or more than 82 minutes of playing time.

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2 thoughts on “On This Date 1971: The Longest Game Ever Played – Kansas City Chiefs v Miami Dolphins

  1. Pingback: SUPER BOWL VI RUNNER UP 1971 MIAMI DOLPHINS | Taylor Blitz Times

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