'72 Dolphins - critical play?

'72 Dolphins - critical play?

Postby JeffEby » Fri Jul 09, 2021 2:41 pm

I was watching a DVD of an old "This Week in Pro Football" show from 1972, and an incident from a week 3 game caught my eye. It was arguably one of the most important plays in enabling the Miami Dolphins to go undefeated that season. Interestingly, a) the 3rd down play came up short of a first down, and b) it was a pass thrown by Marlin Briscoe.

The play occurred with about 6 minutes left in the game against Minnesota. The Vikings led 14-6. The Dolphins faced 3rd and 25 from their own 34 yard line. The play was a reverse/pass - Bob Griese handed off to Jim Kiick, who then gave it to receiver Marlin Briscoe going the other direction. Briscoe, who played quarterback earlier in his career, stopped and threw downfield to Jim Mandich for a gain of 22 yards. Here's the play:

https://vimeo.com/573131029

This was short of a first down, but close enough for Garo Yepremian to attempt and make a 51-yard field goal (in 1972, the goal posts were on the goal line). The Dolphins then held the Vikings, got the ball back and drove for the winning touchdown with 1:31 remaining.

If the pass had been incomplete, or a sack (Alan Page was zeroing in on Briscoe), the Dolphins would have been forced to punt on fourth and long. It's extremely unlikely they would have been able to hold the Vikings and then drive for two scores (no 2-point conversions back then) in the time remaining. This was the closest the Dolphins came to losing in 1972, and that play was the 'tipping point' in their victory.
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Re: '72 Dolphins - critical play?

Postby Brian wolf » Fri Jul 09, 2021 3:51 pm

Great call ...

A bigtime catch by Paul Warfield against Cleveland in the divisional round, late in the 4th quarter was huge as well and then there is the hit by Jake Scott that knocked Bradshaw out of the AFC Champ game for extended time. If Bradshaw had not taken that dive, hit and fall in the endzone, would have been an entirely different game, though the Dolphins had more poise than the nervous Steelers, I felt ...
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Re: '72 Dolphins - critical play?

Postby Brian wolf » Fri Jul 09, 2021 3:58 pm

Sorry, maybe the Bradshaw play was before the endzone, my mind is fuzzy. Mullins scored on his fumble in the endzone.
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Re: '72 Dolphins - critical play?

Postby 74_75_78_79_ » Sat Jul 10, 2021 9:28 am

In Week #10, the Jets gave them a helluva game as well in a 28-24 loss. Riggins played well, scored a TD. Four lead-changes! What’s forgotten is that NYJ were actually 6-3 going in! They looked very much the likely wild card team. But, sadly, they would go on to a disappointing 7-7 finish. Earl Morrall got him some FWIW Orange Bowl SBIII ‘revenge’.
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Re: '72 Dolphins - critical play?

Postby GameBeforeTheMoney » Tue Jul 13, 2021 7:49 pm

Not quite old enough to remember the 72 Dolphins...but from what I've read and seen on video -- the Larry Sieple fake punt in the AFC Championship Game has always ranked high in terms of people speaking about that team.

In the regular season they had a close game against Buffalo....Manny Fernandez strip-sacked the ball and it was a huge play in the game....I remember seeing that highlight and thinking that they might not have gone undefeated without that play...so from what I've researched, that's a big play as far as keeping the undefeated regular season.
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Re: '72 Dolphins - critical play?

Postby Some Guy From Mars » Thu Jul 15, 2021 9:30 am

In Week #10, the Jets gave them a helluva game as well in a 28-24 loss. Riggins played well, scored a TD. Four lead-changes! What’s forgotten is that NYJ were actually 6-3 going in! They looked very much the likely wild card team. But, sadly, they would go on to a disappointing 7-7 finish. Earl Morrall got him some FWIW Orange Bowl SBIII ‘revenge’.


I decided to re-watch the GOTW highlights, and agree the Jets put in a strong showing against the eventual Super Bowl champions. Namath had a heck of an arm- he reminds of Dan Marino, particularly on that long pass down the sidelines to Don Maynard, whom it is unclear if he got both feet in bounds (play might be overturned under the modern replay system). Problem is that Namath could be incredibly inconsistent. Consider the pair of first half interceptions he tossed that leave you scratching your head- first led to the Dolphins first touchdown and second was in the red zone after the Jets had momentum in their favor. If Namath had smartly thrown the ball away on either play chances are the Jets win.

That said, it cannot be questioned the offensive weapons in which Namath was surrounded: Don Maynard was a classic possession receiver, while Richard Caster flashed a lot of athleticism from the tight end position. John Riggins is a classic power back with speed.
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Re: '72 Dolphins - critical play?

Postby Bryan » Fri Jul 16, 2021 7:48 am

JeffEby wrote:I was watching a DVD of an old "This Week in Pro Football" show from 1972, and an incident from a week 3 game caught my eye. It was arguably one of the most important plays in enabling the Miami Dolphins to go undefeated that season. Interestingly, a) the 3rd down play came up short of a first down, and b) it was a pass thrown by Marlin Briscoe.

The play occurred with about 6 minutes left in the game against Minnesota. The Vikings led 14-6. The Dolphins faced 3rd and 25 from their own 34 yard line. The play was a reverse/pass - Bob Griese handed off to Jim Kiick, who then gave it to receiver Marlin Briscoe going the other direction. Briscoe, who played quarterback earlier in his career, stopped and threw downfield to Jim Mandich for a gain of 22 yards. Here's the play:

https://vimeo.com/573131029

This was short of a first down, but close enough for Garo Yepremian to attempt and make a 51-yard field goal (in 1972, the goal posts were on the goal line). The Dolphins then held the Vikings, got the ball back and drove for the winning touchdown with 1:31 remaining.

If the pass had been incomplete, or a sack (Alan Page was zeroing in on Briscoe), the Dolphins would have been forced to punt on fourth and long. It's extremely unlikely they would have been able to hold the Vikings and then drive for two scores (no 2-point conversions back then) in the time remaining. This was the closest the Dolphins came to losing in 1972, and that play was the 'tipping point' in their victory.


The Vikings played well that game but still lost, which seemed to happen a lot to them in 1972. The Dolphins were the opposite...sometimes they would look uninspired and still win. I think the other game the Dolphins came close to losing was the divisional playoff to the Browns. A lot had to go the Dolphins way in the 2nd half for them to win, and the Browns were playing terribly themselves yet still ahead on the scoreboard. Very strange.

I thought Yepremian's FG against the Vikings was the critical play in keeping Miami undefeated, but I can see your logic as well in regards to Briscoe. Long FGs were still rare in 1972. I think Yepremian held 'consecutive FG' records for four teams (Lions, Dolphins, Saints, Bucs) when he retired. Not sure why teams were so apt to move on from Yepremian; he was a great kicker for his era.
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Re: '72 Dolphins - critical play?

Postby JohnH19 » Mon Jul 19, 2021 2:57 pm

The combination of Briscoe’s pass to Mandich and Garo’s 51 yarder may also have been the critical sequence in the Vikings’ disastrous 7-7 season. Nothing went right for the Purple that season.
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Re: '72 Dolphins - critical play?

Postby Brian wolf » Mon Jul 19, 2021 5:52 pm

It had to have been frustrating for Tarkenton to come back to the Vikings in 1972 with that great defense and still not have a winning season. I remember watching the video replays of the 73 NFC playoffs from my collection(I didnt see the games when I was six years old because my Dad liked watching sat, sun movies on ABC)and the CBS announcers were wondering, hoping that Tarkenton would put behind his "losing" label which he basically did when the Vikings beat Dallas to go to their second SB ...
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Re: '72 Dolphins - critical play?

Postby SixtiesFan » Tue Jul 20, 2021 4:59 pm

Brian wolf wrote:It had to have been frustrating for Tarkenton to come back to the Vikings in 1972 with that great defense and still not have a winning season. I remember watching the video replays of the 73 NFC playoffs from my collection(I didnt see the games when I was six years old because my Dad liked watching sat, sun movies on ABC)and the CBS announcers were wondering, hoping that Tarkenton would put behind his "losing" label which he basically did when the Vikings beat Dallas to go to their second SB ...


I remember when the Vikings went 7-7 in 1972, Jerry Green wrote in Sporting News that "Fran checked in with his usual 7-7 record," and repeated Norm Van Brocklin's judgment of his former QB: "He'll win games he shouldn't win. He'll lose games he should have won. He'll never win the games he has to win."

After Tarkenton and the Vikings beat the Cowboys in the 1973 NFC Championship game and went to Super Bowl VIII, I don't think I ever saw the "Fran Tarkenton is always a 7-7 QB" trope again.
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