On This Date in Sports December 16, 1972: 14-0 (50 Years of Perfection Week 14)
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 1972 Dolphins, in collaboration with Sportsecyclopedia.com.
The Miami Dolphins complete a 14-0 regular season, defeating the Baltimore Colts 16-0 at the Orange Bowl. It is the third shutout against the Colts during the calendar year for the Dolphins. Miami defeated Baltimore 21-0 in the 1971 AFC Championship 21-0 on January 2nd. They defeated the Colts 23-0 in Week 7 and closed the season with a 16-0 win at the Orange Bowl. Bob Griese played for the first time since breaking his leg in Week 5, completing two-of-three passes for 19 yards. The Dolphins became the third team in NFL history to finish undefeated and untied in the regular season, following the 1934 and 1942 Chicago Bears; both Bears teams failed to win the NFL Championship Game.
The Colts entered the game with a record of 5-8. It had been a season of transition for Baltimore as Johnny Unitas was benched and coach Don McCaffery was fired in Week 5. Unitas was given a wonderful sendoff in Baltimore two weeks earlier as he saw action in a 35-7 win over the Buffalo Bills. It was the legendary quarterback's final game at Memorial Stadium. Two years earlier, the Colts had won Super Bowl V and had lost to the Dolphins in the 1971 AFC Championship Game, making the losing season a shocker for Colts fans that were used to winning.
The Dolphins drew first blood in their pursuit of a perfect season on a Saturday afternoon at the Orange Bowl, as Garo Yepremian hit a 40-yard field goal in the first quarter. Miami would extend the lead to 10-0 in the second quarter as Earl Morrall completed a 14-yard touchdown pass to Paul Warfield. Colts quarterback Marty Domres left the game briefly in the second quarter. Leading Johnny Unitas to make his final appearance with the Colts. The Hall of Famer, who held all the significant passing records at the time of his retirement, completed his first pass for three yards. His second pass would be picked off by Doug Swift. It was the final pass Johnny Unitas would throw in a Colts uniform.
The second half was a defensive struggle, as the Dolphins added two more field goals from Garo Yepremian, one from 50 yards in the third quarter and a 35-yard boot in the fourth quarter. The Dolphins' defense put the squeeze on the Colts, forcing six turnovers. Earl Morrall passed for 110 yards before Bob Griese came on to play in the fourth quarter, as the Dolphins focused on the upcoming playoffs, winning 16-0.
The Colts would hire Dolphins offensive coordinator Howard Schnellenberger following the season to become the team's new head coach, as Johnny Unitas, who had been the Colts quarterback since 1955, finished his career with the San Diego Chargers in 1973.