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On This Date in Sports October 8, 1972: Perfect at Shea (50 Years of Perfection Week 4)

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 1972 Dolphins, in collaboration with Sportsecyclopedia.com.

The Miami Dolphins defeat the New York Jets 27-17, spoiling New York's home opener at Shea Stadium. The Dolphins overcame an early touchdown by the Jets, as Bob Griese completed 15 of 27 and has a season-high 220 yards, with a touchdown pass to Howard Twilley. Larry Csonka rushed for 102 yards on 18 carries, while Jim Kiick had a pair of touchdowns while rushing for 53 yards on 16 carries, as the Dolphins improved to 4-0. 

For the first time in three seasons, Joe Namath was healthy as the New York Jets won their first two games in 1972. The Jets had won their first two games, Namath had big games against the Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Colts, and the Jets scored 85 total points. However, in Week 3, the Jets stumbled, losing to the lowly Houston Oilers 26-21. It was the only win for the Oilers in 1972 and the only win in 19 games for Oilers coach Bill Peterson. 

It was the first home game for the road-weary Jets, as they could not use Shea Stadium until the end of the Mets' season. When Shea Stadium opened in 1964, the Mets were the primary tenant, and the Jets had to wait until baseball season was over. Often the Jets would play their first three or four games on the road, waiting for the Mets to end their season. In 1973, the Jets would play their first six games on the road as the Mets went to the World Series. This arrangement made by the Jets' original owner Harry Wisner would lead to litigation in 1977, as the Jets played a home game at Giants Stadium. Eventually, the Mets would begin allowing the Jets to play September home games, but it would sew the seeds for Gang Green's eventual departure for Shea Stadium and move to the Meadowlands when their lease expired in 1983. 

The Jets received the opening kickoff and marched down the field, scoring when Randy Rasmussen recovered a fumble by Cliff McClain in the end zone, capping a 13-play 65-yard drive. The Jets' 7-0 lead would stand for the entire first quarter, as the Dolphins did not get their offense moving until the second quarter. Miami tied the game early in the second quarter when Howard Twilley reeled in a 16-yard touchdown pass from Bob Griese. Just before halftime, the Dolphins took a 14-7 lead on a six-yard touchdown run by Jim Kiick. 

In the third quarter, on a 27-yard field goal by Garo Yepremian. Joe Namath and the Jets would answer, as he completed a 52-yard pass to Jerome Barkum that gave New York first and goal from the one-yard line. The Dolphins' defense would not allow the Jets in the end zone, as they settled for an 18-yard field goal by Bobby Howfield. 

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The Dolphins would capitalize on a pair of Jets' penalties, including a long pass interference call to extend their lead to 24-10, as Jim Kiick had a second touchdown, scoring from the three. The Dolphins appeared to have the game wrapped up, but a fumble by Charlie Leigh on a Steve O'Neal punt gave the Jets new life. The Jets took advantage of Miami's mistake and cut the Dolphins' lead to seven points as Emerson Boozer plunged into the end zone from the one. 

The Jets would not get any closer, as Miami sealed the game with a late 43-yard field goal by Garo Yepremian to win the game 27-17.