Undefeated season…17-0 and a win in Super Bowl VII 14-7 over the Washington Redskins and still regarded by many as the best team of all time. They have the argument in their favor…1 season everyone vanquished…no one else can make that claim.
Yet going into Super Bowl VII the Dolphins were a 3 pt underdog. Why? George Allen was completing a rebuilding with old veterans and hadn’t won any big games as a head coach. His Rams couldn’t leapfrog the Packers in the western conference in 1967. He was the Defensive Coordinator for George Halas’ last champion in 1963, but how does that rate better than Shula’s club who had just gone to the Super Bowl a year before?
Larry Csonka, Mercury Morris (both 1,000yd rushers), Kiick ran solidly and Manny Fernandez dominated the Super Bowl from his defensive tackle spot. Back in 1989 NFL Films came up with a fictitious playoff of the greatest teams ever and the last game was the ’72 Dolphins v. the ’78 Steelers. Could the 72 Dolphins handle the ’78 Steelers? Would Terry Bradshaw outsmart Jake Scott or Dick Anderson? After further review, The Chancellor doesn’t think so.
Under the same systems in 1973 when the Steelers played Miami, S Dick Anderson picked off the Steelers 4 times returning them for 121 yards and 2 touchdowns. It was the signature game of a Defensive Player of the Year season for Anderson. The No Name Defense was rarely out of position and would make even a more mature Bradshaw make some mistakes. In Super Bowl VII, Jake Scott fooled veteran Billy Kilmer into 2 ints as he went on to become the MVP.
During the 1972 season, they were masterful with 3 shutouts and allowing 10 points or less in 6 games.
The 78 Steelers were giving up some candy to running games and I think the Dolphins would move the ball on them. I think the 72 Dolphins would beat them. Bob Griese wouldn’t turn the ball over either. By the way in 1973 Pittsburgh was a playoff team and to make it to Super Bowl VII in 1972 Miami beat Pittsburgh in Three Rivers to get to the Super Bowl. Don’t look now but Miami doesn’t get the respect their due. Are there stronger teams…its debatable…but I think they would handle Pittsburgh in a mythical match-up.
Further evidence to this would be the ’72 AFC Championship game where the Dolphins had to win in Pittsburgh to make it to Super Bowl VII. Or in court terms – Exhibit A:
By the way, I used the 78 Steelers instead of the 79 Steelers because in 1979 the Steelers led the NFL with 52 turnovers. That team doesn’t beat the mistake proof 72 Dolphins. No way.