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No. 20: Super Bowl VII – Miami Dolphins Complete Perfect Season

There is a famous lede to a World Series game story about Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series: The imperfect man pitched a perfect game.

The finish to the Miami Dolphins’ undefeated 1972 season is akin to that. Super Bowl VII was an imperfect conclusion to their perfect season.

No. 20: Super Bowl VII - Miami Dolphins Complete Perfect Season
A general view of Allegiant Stadium after a news conference announcing that the venue will host the 2024 Super Bowl | David Becker/Getty Images/AFP

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Setting the Stage for Super Bowl VII

Don Shula and the Dolphins came into the Los Angeles Coliseum on Jan. 14, 1973, as Super Bowl betting favorites. According to NFL Vegas odds, the 16-0 Fish were one-point picks over Washington in betting odds for the Super Bowl.

Why would a team that had yet to lose only be favored by a point?

Washington had gone 11-3 in the regular season in winning the NFC East. In its playoff victories, over Green Bay and Dallas, Washington outscored its foes, 42-6.

Miami for its mighty mark was not expected to have an easy time completing the perfect season.

The Dolphins were a powerhouse. They went 14-0 in the regular season and outscored opponents by 214 points.

Super Bowl Sunday

The totals for Super Bowl VII were set at a meager 33 points. Vegas oddsmakers had the feeling this would be a defensive battle … and they were spot on for those who bet on Super Bowls.

The weather was an LA-perfect 64 degrees at game time with mild winds.

The pregame saluted the crew of Apollo 17, which had returned from the moon a month earlier. The Michigan marching band pulled double duty, playing the national anthem and working halftime with entertainers that included singer Andy Williams.

As we said, this was 1973, a far cry from 2023.

Super Bowl VII

The game was low-scoring as predicted by many in the Super Bowl wagering world.

Miami scored twice in the first half and that was it.

Bob Griese threw a TD pass to Howard Twilley in the first quarter and running back Jim Kiick scored on a 1-yard run in the second to give the Dolphins a 14-0 lead.

That was all they would need when it came to points.

Sluggish Stats

Washington would not dent Miami’s famed “No-Name Defense” in Super Bowl VII. It had 228 yards of total offense. Quarterback Billy Kilmer was picked off three times, twice by game MVP Jake Scott.

Kilmer threw for all of 104 yards. However, he had more passing yardage than Bob Griese of the Dolphins. The future Hall of Famer completed 8 of 11 for 88 yards and the one touchdown.

Miami running back Larry Csonka had 112 rushing yards and Kiick and Mercury Morris combined for 72 more.

No, Garo, No

How then, did Washington find its way onto the LA Coliseum scoreboard?

It remains one of the most memorable plays – gaffes? – in Super Bowl history.

Dolphins kicker Garo Yepremian was attempting a 42-yard field goal with about two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

The kick was blocked and the circus was on.

Yepremian picked up the loose football and attempted to throw a pass.

Awful idea.

The 5-foot-7 kicker from Cyprus’ throw was deflected by himself into the hands of Washington defensive back Mike Bass, who returned it 49 yards for a touchdown. The box score credits it as a fumble recovery, sort of a bloop and score

The Dolphins would thwart Washington’s final attempt to tie the game and complete the first – and only – undefeated season in NFL history.

Take A Look At These Other 2 Super Bowl Special Articles

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Super Bowl VII was a defensive struggle and it was befitting the way the Miami Dolphins played in their perfect season.

If you ask anyone what their most vivid memory of the game is, it won’t be Jake Scott’s interceptions or the Miami Dolphins’ touchdowns.

That honor will live forever with Yepremian’s unwise decision to try and throw a pass after his field-goal attempt was blocked in the fourth quarter.

To this day, members of the Miami Dolphins pop champagne on the day the last NFL team suffers its first loss. A way to toast the only undefeated season in league history.

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Questions Of The Day

What team has the best value betting odds for the Super Bowl?

The San Francisco 49ers are a nice choice at +450.

What is the best prop bet to wager on in the Super Bowl?

The team to score first is a great angle because you can research how each squad has done in its games.

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