1973 Miami Dolphins season
OwnerJoe Robbie
Head coachDon Shula
Home fieldMiami Orange Bowl
Results
Record12–2
Division place1st AFC East
Playoff finishWon Divisional Playoffs (vs. Bengals) 34–16
Won AFC Championship (vs. Raiders) 27–10
Won Super Bowl VIII (vs. Vikings) 24–7

The 1973 Miami Dolphins season was the franchise's eighth season and fourth season in the National Football League (NFL). The team entered the 1973 season as defending Super Bowl champion following its undefeated 1972 season.

In week 1, the Dolphins extended their winning streak to 18 with a 21–13 win over the San Francisco 49ers. However, the following week, they were defeated 12–7 by the Oakland Raiders to end the winning streak. The streak stood as an NFL record until it was broken by the New England Patriots in 2004 whose record of 21 consecutive wins still stands.

The team won the AFC East, finishing with a regular season record of 12–2, and then defeated the Cincinnati Bengals in the Divisional Round, the Raiders in the AFC Championship game, and the Minnesota Vikings in the league’s eighth Super Bowl. It was the Dolphins' second consecutive (and to date last)[1] Super Bowl victory. With the Dolphins' combined records of 17–0 and 15–2 over the course of their 1972 and 1973 seasons, the Dolphins posted a 32–2 total record over 2 years, for a winning percentage of .941. The Dolphins allowed just 10.7 points per game in the regular season, a franchise record still standing today.

Season summary

Although the Dolphins were unable to match their 17–0 perfect season of 1972, many[who?] sports writers, fans, and Dolphins players themselves felt that the 1973 team was better. While the 1972 team faced no competition in the regular season that had a record of better than 8-6, the 1973 team played against a much tougher schedule that included games against the Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Dallas Cowboys (all playoff teams), plus two games against a resurgent Bills squad that featured 2,000-yard rusher O. J. Simpson. Miami finished with a 12–2 regular season, including their opening game victory over the San Francisco 49ers that tied an NFL record with eighteen consecutive wins. The Dolphins’ streak ended in week two with a 12–7 loss to the Raiders in Berkeley, California.

Just like the two previous seasons, Miami’s offense relied primarily on their rushing attack. Fullback Larry Csonka recorded his third consecutive 1,000 rushing yard season (1,003 yards), while running back Mercury Morris rushed for 954 yards and scored 10 touchdowns, while leading the league with 6.4 yards per carry. Running back Jim Kiick was also a key contributor, rushing for 257 yards, and catching 27 passes for 208 yards. Quarterback Bob Griese, the AFC's second leading passer, completed only 116 passes for 1,422 yards, but threw about twice as many touchdown passes (17) as interceptions (8), and earned an 84.3 passer rating. Wide receiver Paul Warfield remained the main deep threat on the team, catching 29 passes for 514 yards and 11 touchdowns. The offensive line remained strong led by center Jim Langer and right guard Larry Little. Griese, Csonka, Warfield, Langer, and Little would all eventually be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Miami’s “No Name Defense” continued to dominate their opponents. Future Hall of Fame linebacker Nick Buoniconti recovered three fumbles and returned one for a touchdown. Safety Dick Anderson led the team with eight interceptions, which he returned for 163 yards and two touchdowns. And safety Jake Scott, the previous season's Super Bowl MVP, had four interceptions and 71 return yards. The Dolphins were still using their “53” defense devised at the beginning of the 1972 season, where Bob Matheson (#53) would be brought in as a fourth linebacker in a 3–4 defense, with Manny Fernandez at nose tackle. Matheson could either rush the quarterback or drop back into coverage.

In 2007, ESPN.com ranked the 1973 Dolphins as the eight-greatest defense in NFL history,[2] noting that the team “held 11 opponents to 14 points or less, setting a record by allowing just 150 points in a 14-game season”. Defensive end Bill Stanfill set a Dolphins’ sack record that still stands, with 18.5. In the playoffs and Super Bowl, they allowed only 33 points against Cincinnati, Oakland and Minnesota. Stanfill, Manny Fernandez, Hall of Fame middle linebacker Nick Buoniconti, and safeties Dick Anderson (AP Defensive Player of the Year) and Jake Scott were all named to the 1973 All-Pro team. They also held record-breaking rusher O. J. Simpson to his lowest total yardage of the season, a mere 55 yards in Week Six.

Offseason

Draft

Main article: 1973 NFL Draft

1973 Miami Dolphins draft
Round Pick Player Position College Notes
2 52 Chuck Bradley  TE Oregon
3 83 Leon Gray *  OT Jackson State
4 104 Bo Rather  WR Michigan
5 111 Don Strock  QB Virginia Tech
5 130 Dave McCurry  DB Iowa State
6 156 Ed Newman *  OG Duke
7 160 Kevin Reilly  LB Villanova
7 163 Benny Shepherd  RB Arkansas Tech
7 178 Willie Hatter  WR Northern Illinois
7 182 Thomas Smith  FB Miami (FL)
      Made roster    *   Made at least one Pro Bowl during career

[3]

Personnel

Staff

1973 Miami Dolphins staff
Front office

Head coaches

  • Head Coach – Don Shula

Offensive coaches

Defensive coaches



Roster

1973 Miami Dolphins roster
Quarterbacks

Running backs

Wide receivers

Tight ends

Offensive linemen

Defensive linemen

Linebackers

Defensive backs

Special teams

Reserve lists


Practice squad


Rookies in italics

Regular season

Schedule

Week Date Opponent Result Record Venue Attendance
1 September 16 San Francisco 49ers W 21–13 1–0 Miami Orange Bowl 68,275
2 September 23 at Oakland Raiders L 7–12 1–1 California Memorial Stadium 74,121
3 September 30 New England Patriots W 44–23 2–1 Miami Orange Bowl 62,508
4 October 7 New York Jets W 31–3 3–1 Miami Orange Bowl 63,850
5 October 15 at Cleveland Browns W 17–9 4–1 Cleveland Municipal Stadium 70,070
6 October 21 Buffalo Bills W 27–6 5–1 Miami Orange Bowl 65,241
7 October 28 at New England Patriots W 30–14 6–1 Schaefer Stadium 57,617
8 November 4 at New York Jets W 24–14 7–1 Shea Stadium 57,791
9 November 11 Baltimore Colts W 44–0 8–1 Miami Orange Bowl 60,332
10 November 18 at Buffalo Bills W 17–0 9–1 Rich Stadium 77,138
11 November 22 at Dallas Cowboys W 14–7 10–1 Texas Stadium 58,089
12 December 3 Pittsburgh Steelers W 30–26 11–1 Miami Orange Bowl 68,901
13 December 9 at Baltimore Colts L 3–16 11–2 Memorial Stadium 58,446
14 December 15 Detroit Lions W 34–7 12–2 Miami Orange Bowl 53,375

Note: Intra-division opponents are in bold text.

Game summaries

Week 1

1 234Total
49ers 3 730 13
• Dolphins 3 3015 21

[4]

Week 2 at Raiders

See also: 1973 Oakland Raiders season

Week Two: Miami Dolphins (1–0) at Oakland Raiders (0–1)
1 2 34Total
Dolphins 0 0 077
Raiders 3 3 3312

at Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, California

Game information

The Raiders became the first team to defeat Miami since Super Bowl VI. The game was played at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley due to a scheduling conflict at Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum with the A's.[5]

Week 4

1 234Total
Jets 0 003 3
• Dolphins 14 1070 31
  • Date: October 7
  • Location: Orange Bowl
  • Game start: 1:00 p.m. EST
  • Game weather: 80 °F; wind 6
  • Referee: Chuck Heberling

[6]

Week 6

Week 6: Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins[7]
1 234Total
Buffalo Bills (4–2) 3 003 6
• Miami Dolphins (5–1) 3 2130 27
  • Date: October 21, 1973
  • Location: Orange Bowl (astroturf)
    Miami, Florida
  • Game start: 1:00 PM
  • Game attendance: 65,241
  • Game weather: 80 degrees, relative humidity 77%, wind 17 mph
  • Referee: Fred Silva

Miami took over first place in the AFC East by halting Simpson's streak of consecutive 100-yard performances. They held him to 55 yards on 14 carries before he left the game with an ankle sprain in the fourth quarter. Miami posted a 21-point second quarter highlighted by a pair of touchdown passes from Bob Griese to Jim Mandich. The Bills made no first downs in the first half.[8] Leypoldt and Garo Yepremian opened and closed the scoring by swapping field goals. The Dolphins' other touchdown came when a 21-yard Paul Warfield reception set up a Mercury Morris 4-yard touchdown.[9]

Week 8

1 234Total
• Dolphins 7 7100 24
Jets 0 1400 14


[10]


Week 10

Week 10: Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills[11]
1 234Total
• Miami Dolphins (9–1) 7 1000 17
Buffalo Bills (5–5) 0 000 0

The Dolphins clinched the East Division title with a 17–0 shutout of the Bills. Miami's first touchdown drive included two fourth-and-one conversions by Jim Kiick. With Miami leading 10–0, Buffalo drove from their own 20-yard-line to the Dolphins' 4-yard-line and then turned the ball over on downs four plays later at the 1-yard-line.[12] In the game, the Bills were shut out despite a pair of 100-yard rushing efforts by Simpson and Braxton who posted 120 and 119 yards respectively.[11]

Week 12

1 234Total
Steelers 0 3716 26
• Dolphins 20 1000 30
  • Date: December 3
  • Location: Orange Bowl
  • Game start: 9:00 p.m. EST
  • Game attendance: 68,901
  • Game weather: 75 °F; wind 14
  • Referee: Ben Dreith
  • TV announcers (ABC): Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell, and Don Meredith

[13]

Week 14

1 234Total
Lions 0 07 7
• Dolphins 14 1730 34


[14]

Standings

AFC East
W L T PCT DIV CONF PF PA STK
Miami Dolphins 12 2 0 .857 7–1 9–2 343 150 W1
Buffalo Bills 9 5 0 .643 6–2 7–4 259 230 W4
New England Patriots 5 9 0 .357 1–7 3–8 258 300 L2
New York Jets 4 10 0 .286 4–4 4–7 240 306 L2
Baltimore Colts 4 10 0 .286 2–6 2–9 226 341 W2

[15]

Postseason

Divisional

1 234Total
Bengals 3 1300 16
• Dolphins 14 7103 34

[16]

The Dolphins outgained Cincinnati in total yards, 400–194, and first downs, 27–11, while also scoring on three of their first four possessions and shutting out the Bengals in the second half. The Dolphins racked up 241 yards on the ground, including 106 from Mercury Morris and 71 from Larry Csonka, while receiver Paul Warfield caught 5 passes for 95 yards and a score.

Conference Championship

1 234Total
Raiders 0 0100 10
• Dolphins 7 7310 27
  • Date: December 30
  • Location: Orange Bowl
  • Game start: 4:00 p.m. EST
  • Game attendance: 79,325
  • Game weather: 74 °F; wind 8
  • Referee: Tommy Bell
  • TV announcers (NBC): Curt Gowdy and Al DeRogatis

[17]

Running back Larry Csonka led the Dolphins to a victory with 117 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns. Mercury Morris also ran for 86 yards. Bob Griese threw just six passes during the game, completing three.

Super Bowl

Main article: Super Bowl VIII

1 234Total
Vikings 0 007 7
• Dolphins 14 370 24

[18] Larry Csonka rushed for 145 yards on 33 carries, scoring two touchdowns, and was named MVP. Bob Griese threw just seven passes all game, completing six.

Awards and honors


Pro Bowl Selections (voted by NFL coaches for players other than their own):[19]

Offense:

Defense:

Notes and references

  1. ^ as of 2020
  2. ^ The List: Best NFL defense of all-time, 2007
  3. ^ "1973 Miami Dolphins draftees". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved October 18, 2014.
  4. ^ Pro-Football-Reference.com
  5. ^ Koppett, Leonard (September 24, 1973). "Blanda Kicks End Dolphin String, 12‐7". New York Times. Retrieved February 12, 2022.
  6. ^ Pro-Football-Reference.com
  7. ^ "Buffalo Bills 6 at Miami Dolphins 27". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved June 28, 2010.
  8. ^ "Packers racked, O. J. squeezed". Chicago Tribune. October 22, 1973. p. C3.
  9. ^ "Dolphins Stop Simpson Bills". The Victoria Advocate. October 22, 1973. Retrieved August 24, 2010.[dead link]
  10. ^ Pro Football Reference.com
  11. ^ a b "Miami Dolphins 17 at Buffalo Bills 0". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved June 28, 2010.
  12. ^ "Miami defeats Bills to clinch division crown". Bangor Daily News. November 19, 1973. Retrieved June 28, 2010.
  13. ^ Pro-Football-Reference.com
  14. ^ Pro-Football-Reference.com
  15. ^ NFL 2001 Record and Fact Book, Workman Publishing Co, New York,NY, ISBN 0-7611-2480-2, p. 296
  16. ^ Pro Football Reference.com
  17. ^ Pro Football Reference.com
  18. ^ Pro Football Reference.com
  19. ^ Hill of Jets, 11 Dolphins In Pro Bowl, New York Times (archives), William N. Wallace, Dec. 20, 1973. Even though the headline states 11 Dolphins, the article itself lists 12 Dolphins including kicker Garo Yepremian.