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On This Date in Sports December 3, 1972: Grounding and Pounding (50 Years of Perfection Week 12)

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

The Dolphins remain unbeaten into December, beating the New England Patriots 37-21. The score is closer than the game indicates, as the Patriots scored 14 points in garbage time. In getting to 12-0, the Dolphins get big games from Mercury Morris, who rushes for 113 yards, while Larry Csonka runs for 91 yards, reaching 1,000 yards on the season. Miami rushed for 304 yards, Hubert Ginn rushed for 47 yards, Charlie Leigh added 30 yards, and Jim Kiick had 21 yards. 

Three weeks after the Dolphins handed the Patriots a 52-0 loss, the worst loss in franchise history, things were not much better in Foxboro. After the Dolphins blowout at the Orange Bowl, coach John Mazur was fired. The Patriots suffered a 27-24 loss to the Buffalo Bills and a 31-0 loss to the Baltimore Colts in the first two games with coach Phil Bengstrom. Overall the Patriots were 2-9 as they prepared to host the unbeaten Dolphins at Schaefer Stadium. 

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The game got off to a slow start, as Garo Yepremian's 36-yard field goal was the only score of the first quarter. In the second quarter, Yerpemian added a second field goal from ten yards as Miami filed to get the ball into the end zone, despite controlling the ball and running it down New England's throat. Later in the second quarter, Miami finally found the end zone as Jim Kiick capped an 89-yard drive with a one-yard plunge. The Patriots would find the end zone themselves before the end of the first half as Tom Reynolds caught a 36-yard pass from Jim Plunkett. 

Leading 13-7 at the half, the Dolphins pulled away in the third quarter, scoring 17 unanswered points. The Dolphins' surge started with an interception by Vern Den Herder, who took the ball to the New England 11. The Dolphins would find the end zone as Earl Morrall connected with Jim Mandich on a three-yard touchdown pass. Miami continued to dominate as Garo Yepremian's third field goal from the 18 gave them a 23-7 lead. A few players later, Doug Swift picked off Plunkett and set up a second touchdown pass for Morrall, who connected with Marlin Briscoe from the 14. 

In the fourth quarter, Hubert Ginn scored on an eight-yard touchdown run to extend the Dolphins' lead to 37-7, leading to both teams emptying the bench. While the Dolphins focused on running out the clock, the Patriots' backups gave fans who stuck around something to cheer about as Brian Dowling tossed his first touchdown pass to John Tarver from the eight-yard line. Dowling would later score on a quarterback sneak, as the Patriots scored twice, making the final score 37-21.