1973 AFC Championship Game
1234 Total
ABB 00100 10
ABB 77310 27
DateDecember 30, 1973
StadiumMiami Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida
RefereeTommy Bell
Attendance79,325
TV in the United States
NetworkNBC
AnnouncersCurt Gowdy and Al DeRogatis

The 1973 AFC Championship Game was the fourth title game[a] of the American Football Conference. Played on December 30, 1973, the game was hosted by the AFC East champion, two-time defending AFC champion and defending Super Bowl champion Miami Dolphins who played the AFC West champion Oakland Raiders at Miami Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida. Along with the 1973 NFC Championship Game played on the same day, this game constituted the penultimate round of the 1973-74 NFL playoffs which had followed the 1973 regular season of the National Football League.

Miami defeated Oakland 27–10[1] to earn the right to represent the AFC in Super Bowl VIII.

Background

This was the third consecutive AFC Championship Game (and third title game overall) contested by the Dolphins. Having completed the only undefeated season in modern NFL history the previous year, Miami once again won the AFC East with a 12-2 regular season record and defeated the AFC Central champion Cincinnati Bengals 34–16 at the Miami Orange Bowl in the Divisional Round to advance to the AFC Championship game.

This was the second AFC title game contested by the Raiders, and their fifth title game in the Super Bowl era.[b] Notably, it was the Raiders who were the first team to beat Miami since the 1971 season with a 12–7 victory at Oakland Coliseum in Week 2. Oakland won the AFC West with a 9-4-1 regular season record and defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 33–14 at Oakland Coliseum in the Divisional Round to reach the AFC title game.

This was the second postseason meeting between the Dolphins and Raiders. The first such game, played in Oakland, was a 21-14 Raiders victory in the 1970 AFC Divisional Round. This was also the first post-merger title game in either conference featuring two division champions that had played each other in the regular season.

This was the first post-merger AFC championship game to be contested by two former American Football League teams.[c] Coincidentally, the 1973 NFC Championship Game was also the first such game between two teams that had commenced play simultaneous to or after the AFL's first season in 1960.

Game summary

Miami threw only six passes during the game, completing just 3 for 34 yards, but gained 266 rushing yards (more than Oakland's total yards for the game) on 53 carries. Running back Larry Csonka led the Dolphins to a victory with 117 rushing yards and an AFC playoff record 3 rushing touchdowns.

Miami scored on an opening 64-yard drive when quarterback Bob Griese's 27-yard run set up Csonka's 11-yard rushing touchdown. Csonka scored again late in the second quarter at the end of a 63-yard drive that took more than 8 minutes off the clock, finishing it with a 2-yard touchdown run to make the score 14–0 with 14 seconds left in the half.[2]

Oakland managed to get on the board in the third quarter with a 21-yard George Blanda field goal, but this was quickly countered with a 42-yard Garo Yepremian field goal set up by Charlie Leigh's 53-yard kickoff return. Oakland then drove 78 yards and scored on Ken Stabler's 25-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Mike Siani, cutting the lead to 17–10. In the fourth quarter, after Griese's 17-yard run on a QB draw set up Yepremian's 26-yard field goal, the Raiders were faced with fourth down and inches on the Dolphins 42 and were forced to "go for it". But running back Marv Hubbard fumbled the ball while trying to get through the line. The ball bounced into the hands of Stabler, who was tackled for a loss by defensive back Dick Anderson, and the Dolphins used their running game to take time off the clock and set up Csonka's third touchdown to clinch the game.

Scoring

Aftermath

The AFC champion Dolphins made their third consecutive Super Bowl appearance. Miami defeated the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football Conference 24–7 in Super Bowl VIII to win their second consecutive Super Bowl.

This was the first of five consecutive AFC Championship Game appearances by the Raiders, although in that time they would only win the AFC title (and Super Bowl) once.

The Dolphins would not return to the AFC title game until the strike-shortened 1982 season when they defeated the New York Jets at the Orange Bowl.

The Dolphins are currently one of three teams to win at least three consecutive AFC titles. The other two are the 1990-93 Buffalo Bills (who won four in a row) and the 2016-18 New England Patriots. In contrast, no team has ever won three consecutive NFC championships.

Notes

  1. ^ In this series of articles, title game refers to pre-merger AFL and NFL Championship Games up to and including the 1969 season as well as post-merger AFC and NFC Championship Games from the 1970 season onward.
  2. ^ Oakland had won the 1967 American Football League Championship Game and lost the AFL title games in 1968 and 1969.
  3. ^ Three "old guard" NFL teams (the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Colts and Cleveland Browns) joined the ten existing AFL teams to form the AFC after the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. The Colts had appeared in the 1970 and 1971 AFC Championship Games while the Steelers played in the 1972 title game.

References

  1. ^ "Pro Football Reference".
  2. ^ "Chicago Tribune - Historical Newspapers".

See also