On Sunday January 16, 1972 two legendary Hall of Fame coaches, Tom Landry and Don Shula, squared off against each other in Tulane Stadium in New Orleans. Both had previously been on the losing end of a Super Bowl but in this game one would get his first win.
The Cowboys had dispatched the 49ers 14-4 in the NFL championship game and the Dolphins had defeated the Colts 21-0 to advance to the Super Bowl.
The Cowboys were pretty much the same team as the previous year’s Super Bowl losing team except that in 1971 Roger Staubach had taken over as the team’s quarterback with running backs Duane Thomas, Calvin Hill and Walt Garrison in the backfield and wide receiver Bob Hayes and tight end Mike Ditka as his receivers.
The defense was led again by linebacker Chuck Howley with Bob Lilly and Jethro Pugh on the defensive line.
The Dolphins had Purdue grad Bob Greise at quarterback, running backs Jim Kick and Larry Csonka with former Ohio State star Paul Warfield and former Packer Marv Fleming at wide receiver.
Their defense was led by future Hall of Famers Nick Buoniconti, Larry Little and Jim Langer.
Both Ditka and backup offensive Dallas lineman Forrest Gregg would eventually coach Super Bowl teams.
Fullback Larry Csonka fumbled on an early first quarter drive which resulted in a Mike Clark nine yard field goal and the Cowboys led 3-0. That was followed by a Garo Yepremian missed 49 yard field goal after which Staubach drove the Cowboys downfield for a touchdown on a seven yard pass to Lance Alworth and it was 10-0.
With less than two minutes remaining before halftime Greise had the Dolphins in Cowboys’ territory at the 24 yard line. He threw to Paul Warfield at the two yard line but it was tipped and Warfield could not gather the pass in. Garo Yepremian kicked a 31 yard field goal and the score was 10-3 Dallas at the half.
The third quarter was all Dallas as the only score was on a three yard Duane Thomas run to put the score at 17-3
Miami started a drive in the fourth quarter but a Chuck Howley interception and runback set up a seven yard touchdown pass to Mike Ditka to increase the Dallas lead to 24-3 which would be the final score.
Staubach would get the MVP award and in his twelfth year as Dallas head coach Tom Landry finally got a Super Bowl victory. Miami would be back the next year and Dallas would return for Super Bowl X in 1976.
For Shula who had two Super Bowl losses and who had played under Paul Brown at Cleveland and was an assistant coach under Weeb Ewbank in Baltimore, his football fortunes would improve as by the time he retired he would be the winningest NFL coach of all time.
Ron Griffitts a contribution columnist for the Daily Advocate