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On This Date in Sports January 16, 1972: Cowboys Get Their Crown

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

The Dallas Cowboys smother the Miami Dolphins, winning Super Bowl VI 24-3 at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans. The three points scored by the Dolphins are the fewest for any team in Super Bowl history, a record matched by the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII. Roger Staubach wins the Super Bowl MVP, passing for 119 yards with two touchdowns. With a kickoff temperature of 39°F. The loss served as motivation for Miami as they would remark on a perfect season in 1972, winning Super Bowl VII. 


Since the mid-1960s, the Dallas Cowboys were the contender that could not get over the hump. They played in two NFL Championship Games, losing heartbreakers to the Green Bay Packers, who went on to win the first two Super Bowls. Both games came down to the final minutes. In 1970, the Cowboys made it to the Super Bowl but lost to the Baltimore Colts 16-13 in a mistake-filled game. In 1971, the Cowboys had a new home in Texas Stadium but struggled early as they alternated quarterbacks between Craig Morton and Roger Staubach. Once Tom Landry settled on Staubach, the Cowboys took off, finishing 11-3 to win the NFC East. In the playoffs, the Cowboys easily beat the Minnesota Vikings and San Francisco 49ers to reach their second straight NFC Championship. 

The Miami Dolphins were a team on the rise under the guidance of Don Shula in 1971. After making their first playoff appearance in 1970, the Dolphins posted a record of 10-3-1 to win their first division title. In the playoffs, the Dolphins won their first postseason game outlasting the Kansas City Chiefs 27-24 in double overtime, the longest game in NFL history. The Dolphins would blank the reigning Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Colts 21-0 to reach the big game for the first in their sixth season as a professional football franchise.  

Before the game, Dolphins' coach, Don Shula, received a call from President Richard M. Nixon suggesting the game's first play on offense. The play did not work as Bob Griese's pass to Paul Warfield was broken up by Mel Renfro. After each team punted on their first drive, the Cowboys' defense gave their offense the ball near midfield after recovering a Larry Csonka fumble. The turnover would result in points, as Mike Clark hit a nine-yard field goal. The first quarter would end in disaster for the Dolphins as Griese lost 29 yards on a sack by Bob Lilly. The Dolphins' "No Name Defense" would keep their team in the game for most of the first half, even as their offense was experiencing doomsday against Dallas. Late in the second quarter, the Cowboys found the end zone as Lance Alsworth caught a seven-yard touchdown pass from Roger Staubach. The Dolphins would get on the scoreboard before halftime as Garo Yepremian hit a 31-yard field goal. 


Leading 10-3, the Cowboys got the ball to start the third quarter and marched straight down the field, with Duane Thomas scoring on a three-yard run. Thomas had a big 23-yard run during the drive and finished the game with 95 rushing yards. The Cowboys continued to stifle the Dolphins' offense as the game went into the fourth quarter, with Dallas holding a 17-3 lead. Chuck Howley picked off Bob Griese early in the fourth quarter and returned the ball to the nine of Miami. Two players later, Roger Staubach had a nine-yard touchdown pass to Mike Ditka to ice the game. Dallas had a chance to score more, but Calvin Hill fumbled at the goal line, as the Cowboys won 24-3.