On This Date in Sports September 17, 1972: Arrowhead (50 Years of Perfection Week 1)
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 1972 Dolphins, in collaboration with Sportsecyclopedia.com.
The Miami Dolphins defeat the Kansas City Chiefs 20-10, spoiling the first official game at Arrowhead Stadium. The game was a rematch of the 1971 Divisional Playoffs, won by Miami 27-24 in double-overtime. It was the longest game in NFL history and the final game at Kansas City Municipal Stadium. The Dolphins held a 20-0 lead in the third quarter before holding off a late rally by the Chiefs. Larry Csonka led the Dolphins' offense rushing for 118 yards on 21 carries and scoring a touchdown in the second quarter.
The Miami Dolphins had a meteoric rise under coach Don Shula. Hired after the 1969 season, he took the Dolphins from a floundering expansion team to the Super Bowl in two seasons. They had made their first playoff appearance in 1970 and won their first playoff game in 1971, beating the Chiefs on Christmas Day in the longest game in NFL history. They beat the Baltimore Colts a week later to reach Super Bowl VI, where they were embarrassed by the Dallas Cowboys 24-3. Not wanting to feel that sting again, the Dolphins went into 1972 with a purpose.
Arrowhead Stadium was a part of the new state-of-the-art sports complex, built at the same time as Royals Stadium, with an underground tunnel connecting both venues. Arrowhead Stadium would be the template used for several new exclusively football stadiums with sightlines that allowed for a better game day experience, as opposed to the multipurpose stadiums that looked like a cookie cutter to accommodate both baseball and football. The game began with pomp and circumstance as its late afternoon kickoff made it NBC's showcase game for the first week of the season.
The Chiefs were able to drive into Miami territory on the game's first possession. However, Dick Anderson recovered a fumble by Ed Poddolack to give Miami that ball at the 43-yard line. The Dolphins wasted little time getting on the board, marching 57 yards in seven plays, as Bob Griese connected with Marlin Briscoe to give the Dolphins an early 7-0 lead. The Chiefs drove into Dolphins' territory again on the ensuing drive but again came away empty-handed as Lloyd Mumphord blocked a Jan Stenarud field goal attempt.
With a 7-0 lead, the Dolphins began to ground down the Chiefs as Larry Csonka, Mercury Morris, and Jim Kiick combined for 196 yards on 42 carries. Garo Yepremian hit a field goal to extend the lead to 10-0 early in the second quarter, while Csonka pounded the ball in from the two to give Miami a 17-0 lead at halftime. The Csonka touchdown was set up by Jake Scott's interception, as the Dolphins were beating the Chiefs on both sides of the ball.
The Dolphins extended the lead to 20-0 in the third quarter, as Garo Yerpremian nailed a second field goal on the first possession of the second half. The Chiefs finally scored late in the third on a Stenarud field goal and a cosmetic touchdown in the fourth quarter, as Willie Frazier caught a four-yard pass from Len Dawson.
The Chiefs would finish 1972 with a record of 8-6, starting a 15-year playoff drought as their earlier years in Arrowhead were some of the leanest years in the team's history.