The group of former players on the 1972 Miami Dolphins are still hanging around – in the hopes that the New England Patriots can somehow lose a game and not erase the perfect mark that stands as the perfect season – the 1972 Miami Dolphins who went 17-0 and ran the table. The champagne is still on ice, for now.
The illustrious group from ’72, which will be honored for the anniversary of that 17-0 season next week when the Baltimore Ravens visit Miami, has had several close calls in the past. The 2005 Indianapolis Colts were 13-0 before finally losing to the San Diego Chargers and the 1985 Chicago Bears were 12-0 before, ironically, the Miami Dolphins defeated them. With all of that history, one must wonder: would the ’72 Dolphins sacrifice their place in NFL history to prevent the 2007 Dolphins from going down as possibly the worst NFL club in history, surpassing even the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers? It depends on who you ask.
Bob Kuechenburg, the face and the most vocal member of the ’72 group, told Harvey Fialkov of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, “It’s much more likely the Dolphins will not win then the Patriots won’t lose. My heart is with the ’72 Dolphins. It’s not even close. Why would there be indecision on my part rooting for our immortal record to stay unique versus the Dolphins going 0-16 instead of 1-15?” Pretty cut and dried for Kooch, but ask former running back of that club, Jim Kiick, and his take is different: “That’s a tough question, but I’d like to see the Dolphins win for guys like Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas. Sure, we’d like to be the only team, but perfection is perfection, whether they’re 19-0 or not. We only had 17 games and we were perfect. As Larry Csonka said, if it happens we’ll put another chair on the mountaintop.”
What a lot of people have forgotten is that the Dolphins’ remarkable streak is more remarkable despite the fact that reserve quarterback Earl Morrall took over for an injured Bob Griese; Griese broke his leg during Week 5 of the ’72 season. Morrall’s perspective? He says, “The Patriots still got a long way to go. Every game they got coming up, the [opposing] coach’s talking point will be, ‘We’ll be remembered for breaking their streak.’ The Dolphins are more remembered for beating the Bears [in ’85] than Chicago is for winning the Super Bowl. I’d like to see the 17-0 record stand, but we don’t want [the Dolphins] to lay a goose egg either. They can’t take it away from us. The only thing they could do is tie perfection. You can’t beat it.”
Even with all of the different points of views provided by the former Dolphins, one thing is for certain: something’s got to give. What I think will happen is this: The Patriots will lose a game before Game #17 (their first playoff game) and the Dolphins will lose all of their remaining games this season. As it is, the Dolphins’ remaining games do not look winnable; they play: at Buffalo (today), home vs. Baltimore, at New England and home vs. Cincinnati. I only see one winnable game of the 4 – that would be against Baltimore. But because Miami has grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory already this season, I expect the 2007 version of the Dolphins to go 0-16, ensuring that the Dolphins get perfection (imperfection?) again.