The 1972 Miami Dolphins team, at least the ones who are still surviving, got a chance to celebrate Monday night when the Washington Commanders handed Philadelphia a 32-21 loss Monday night at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles, who were the last remaining undefeated team, fell to 8-1 with the loss. But the challenge of going undefeated is much different now. People making NFL picks in 1972 only had the opportunity to bet on a team pursuing an undefeated season 17 times.
Teams now must win 20 games to complete a perfect season. But there have been many challenges to the Miami Dolphins’ record since Miami beat the then-Washington Redskins 14-7 in Super Bowl VII. Here’s a look at their stories.
Marino earns his colors
The 1985 Bears were a defensive juggernaut destined for greatness. Just ask them, and they will tell you since they haven’t stopped talking about it since they beat the New England Patriots 46-10 to win Super Bowl XX. But Chicago finished the season 17-1, with its only blemish coming during an early December trip to South Beach.
Not many making NFL predictions thought the Miami Dolphins would be able to dispatch Chicago on a swampy Monday night. Bears quarterback Jim McMahon was injured and only attempted six passes. Steve Fuller played a majority of the game for the Bears, who gave up 38 points in a 14-point loss.
Miami quarterback Dan Marino was effective, throwing for 270 yards and three touchdowns in the victory. The shame is there was no match. The Miami Dolphins were upset by New England in the AFC Championship game, falling one game short of an epic rematch.
David bleeping Tyree
The 2007 Patriots were the only other team that started the season 17-0 and, after beating the San Diego Chargers in the AFC title game, entered the Super Bowl at 18-0. But New England would have a nightmarish performance in the Super Bowl. The New York Giants’ pass rush disrupted what was one of the most dominant offenses in NFL history.
Many NFL expert picks pregame favored the Patriots, who were 12-point favorites. After three quarters, New England held a narrow 7-3 lead entering the fourth quarter. David Tyree caught a touchdown pass from Eli Manning to give the Giants a 10-7 lead. New England responded with a six-yard touchdown catch by Randy Moss.
Late in the game, Manning led New York on a late scoring drive that was highlighted by a 32-yard catch where Tyree made a leaping catch in front of Rodney Harrison and caught the ball while pinning the ball to his helmet and falling to the ground. Manning would cap the drive with a touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress to spoil New England’s perfect year.
Steelers fall into a tailspin after loss
Whether or not football would even be played in 2020 was up in the air due to the coronavirus pandemic. The NFL did everything to make the schedule work, including playing on Tuesday and even Wednesday nights in some instances. It made for a wacky season where a lot of weird things happened.
Most people expected PIttsburgh to be a playoff contender, but no one really saw an 11-0 start coming. The Steelers, however, had started to show some signs of vulnerability before playing on Monday, Dec. 7, against the 4-7 Washington Football Team. Pittsburgh surged to a 14-0 first-quarter lead before everything fell apart.
The Washington Football Team dominated the fourth quarter, outscoring the Steelers 13-3 en route to a 23-17 win that ended Pittsburgh’s best-ever start to a season. The Steelers ended the year in a tailspin, losing five of their last six games, culminating with a 48-37 loss to Cleveland in the first round of the playoffs.
Colts stumble down the stretch
The 2009 Colts appeared to be headed toward a second Super Bowl win under quarterback Peyton Manning, but things started to sour toward the end of the season. Indianapolis started the year 14-0 before closing with losses to the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills. While the Jets at the time appeared to be a team that was just scraping into the playoffs, they showed they were much more formidable than that.
The Jets, who finished the season 9-7, would go on to upset the Cincinnati Bengals and San Diego Chargers on their way to the AFC title game. Indianapolis won the rematch 30-17. The Colts fell just short of winning the Super Bowl, losing a back-and-forth affair with New Orleans in the title game.