Super Bowl VII took place in the Los Angeles Coliseum, the site of Super Bowl I, on January 14, 1973 between the Miami Dolphins 16-0 who had defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 21-17 in the NFL title game and the Washington Redskins 13-3 who had bested the Dallas Cowboys 26-3 to advance to the Super Bowl.
Don Shula who had coached in Super Bowls III and VI, was back for his third try for a victory. His opponent was the Washington Redskins. They were coached by George Allen who had been an assistant under Sid Gilliam for the Rams and a graduate of the University of Michigan but had never played college or professional football.
Shula had able assistants in his offensive coordinator, Howard Schnellenberger who would go on to win 277 games as a college coach at Miami, FL, Louisville, Oklahoma, and Florida Atlantic and his defensive coordinator Bill Ansbarger who began as a defensive line coach at Miami of Ohio in 1950 and served in a defensive capacity at Ohio State, Kentucky, Tulane, the Baltimore Colts, the Dolphins and the San Diego Chargers as well as being head coach for the New York Giants and at LSU before his retirement in 1994.
Greise was back at quarterback for Miami with Csonka, Warfield and Mercury Morris and company on offense and Buoniconti, Larry Little and Jim Langer on defense.
The veteran Bill Kilmer quarterbacked the Redskins and was replaced in midseason by Sonny Jurgensen but Jurgensen suffered a season ending injury and Kilmer piloted the team throughout the rest of the season including the playoffs and Super Bowl. The third string quarterback was Sam Wysche who would later be the Bengal’s head coach.
The Redskins’ offense featured running back Larry Brown the NFL MVP as well as wide receivers Charley Taylor and former Packer Boyd Dowler and had future Hall of Famer Chris Hanburger on defense.
Greise was injured early in the season and 38 year old Earl Morrall was an able substitute until Greise was able to return later in the season.
Miami was the first team in Super Bowl history (one of only two) to enter the game with an unbeaten record but in spite of that the Redskins were favored to win.
In another hard fought Super Bowl the Dolphins would get on the board first with a 28 yard touchdown pass from Greise to Howard Twilley and follow with another touchdown in the second quarter on a Jim Kick one yard touchdown run.
This would be all of the scoring until the fourth quarter when the only drama of the game took place. Miami’s Garo Yepremian attempted a 42 yard field goal which was blocked. Yepremian picked up the loose ball and attempted a forward pass which slipped out his hands and was picked off by cornerback Mike Bass and returned for forty-nine yards for a touchdown.
Miami’s defense bore down in the final two minutes of the game to prevent any more Washington scoring and became the first and only Super Bowl winning team to finish the season undefeated with a 17-0 record.
Jake Scott got the MVP award and Miami would return to defend their title the following year with the Redskins returning in 1983.
Ron Griffitts a contributing columnist for the Daily Advocate