In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com
The Miami Dolphins become the first team to make it to the Super Bowl three straight seasons, after beating the Oakland Raiders 27-10 in the AFC Championship Game at the Orange Bowl. The win allows Miami to avenge one of two losses they suffered after completing a perfect season in 1972. The Dolphins would go on to beat the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl VIII.
The Miami Dolphins went from expansion to champions of the AFC in Don Shula’s second season, winning the 1971 AFC Championship 21-0 over the Baltimore Colts. However, they would lose to the Dallas Cowboys 24-3 in Super Bowl VI. After their loss to the Cowboys, the Dolphins were more determined in 1972 and posted a 14-0 record. They would go on to return to the big game, beating the Pittsburgh Steelers 21-17 in the AFC Championship Game. The Dolphins would go on to complete a perfect season, beat the Washington Redskins 14-7 in Super Bowl VII.
After winning the Lombardi Trophy, with the first perfect season in NFL history, the Miami Dolphins had a hard act to follow in 1973. They began the season a 21-13 home win over the San Francisco 49ers. However, Miami’s 18-game winning streak ended the following week as they were beaten 12-9 by the Oakland Raiders in Berkley. The Dolphins would bounce back to win their next ten games to finish with a record of 12-2. In the Divisional Playoffs, the Dolphins slammed the Cincinnati Bengals 34-16 to reach the AFC Championship.
The Oakland Raiders coached by John Madden were coming off the heartbreaking loss in the Division Playoffs in 1972, started slowly with their Week 2 win over the Dolphins as their only bright spot as they sat at 1-2. As the season wore on the Raider began playing better, finishing 9-4-1 to again win the AFC West. The Raiders would go on to advance to the AFC Championship on the strength of a 23-14 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Looking to avenge their loss from September, the Miami Dolphins turned to their bruising running back Larry Csonka to carry the load. Zonk opened the scoring with an 11-yard run in the first quarter and added a second touchdown, for two yards to make it 14-0 in favor of Miami at the end of the first half. The Raiders finally got on the scoreboard in the third quarter, when their ageless kicker George Blanda hit a 21-yard field goal. Garo Yepremian answered with a 42-yard field goal. Later the third quarter, Oakland drew within a touchdown on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Ken Stable to Mike Siani. In the fourth quarter, the Dolphins got another field goal by Yepremian. The Dolphins would also get a third touchdown run by Larry Csonka to make the final score 27-10, as the Dolphins were AFC Champions for the third straight season. The Dolphins run game was so dominant that Bob Giese was barely needed, completing just 3-of-6 passes for 34 yards. He had 39 yards on the ground, as the Dolphins amassed 266 yards on the ground led by Csonka who ran for 117 yards on 29 carries and Mercury Morris who had 14 carries for 86 yards.
It would mark the first of three straight losses in the AFC Championship Game for the Raiders, who would end Miami’s reign in 1974 with a 28-26 win in the Divisional Round.