Peter King wrote:
Forty years ago today, the Miami Dolphins traveled to Yankee Stadium on a raw 44-degree Sunday, got 197 rushing yards from Mercury Morris, Larry Csonka and Jim Kiick, forced six Giant turnovers and beat New York 23-13. There was some fourth-quarter drama -- the Giants were driving with a chance to tie in the fourth when they turned it over again -- but Miami survived the last speed bump on the way to a perfect regular season. The win made Miami 13-0. The Dolphins shut out the lowly Colts the next week to finish the season 14-0, then beat Cleveland, Pittsburgh (a week after The Immaculate Reception game) and Washington to finish the only perfect season in modern NFL history.http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/w ... k14/3.html
A few interesting notes on the game, thanks to Mike Freeman's impressive and engrossing living-history book about the perfect season, Undefeated: Inside the 1972 Miami Dolphins' Perfect Season (itbooks):
• The game was a significant marker in the streak because it was the first time the media made a big deal of it, and it was the first (and only) time the franchise ever played in Yankee Stadium. And that week, TIME magazine had a Peter Max-like illustration of Don Shula on the cover with the subtitle: "Building For The Super Bowl." The Giants' coach, Alex Webster, took the cover as a slap in the team's face and put it on a bulletin board in the Giants' locker room as motivation, Freeman wrote.
• Shula, according to Freeman, always thought this was one of the more significant wins of his career, because it was against a good 7-5 Giants' team, because the eyes of the world were sharpening focus on the unbeaten team, and because of the venue. (For emphasis, a couple of notes not in the Freeman book. "Our players were awed by Yankee Stadium,'' Shula told friends years later. The Miami locker room was crammed with press after the game, but players told Paul Zimmerman two decades after the game that Shula's words as the season wound down were all about the postseason. As in: Nobody's going to remember this as a perfect season unless you win 'em all in the playoffs.)
• After the game, Freeman reported that a writer asked Shula if, to take off the pressure of being perfect with the division already clinched, the Dolphins should have played to lose one of the final games of the season. Steam came out of Shula's ears at that one. "I just can't buy into that attitude,'' Shula said that day. "I don't think there's anything you ever gain by losing. I go along with Jack Nicklaus. He once said, 'You know what breeds winning? Winning breeds winning.' ''
I make note of it today for a couple of reasons: The Dolphins are celebrating the 40th anniversary of their perfection Friday with a dinner in Fort Lauderdale. And because that season doesn't get celebrated enough in the realm of great NFL accomplishments.