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On This Date in Sports September 23, 1973: End of Perfection (50 Years of Following Up Perfection Week 2)

The Miami Dolphins winning streak comes to an end with a 12-7 loss to the Oakland Raiders at Berkley's Memorial Stadium. The Dolphins had not lost since Super Bowl VI, a total of 18 games over 20 months, including the perfect 1972 season when they went 17-0. The streak equaled the longest NFL win streak of 18 games held by the Bears, who had won 18 straight on two occasions. The Dolphins offense struggled against the Raiders defense, managing 195 yards. The Dolphins kept Oakland out of the end zone but allowed four field goals from George Blanda.

The Dolphins struggled to beat the 49ers to start the season but won the game with a solid fourth quarter. The Raiders were not as fortunate, opening the season with a 24-16 loss to the Vikings. The Raiders, coached by John Madden, were among the elite teams in the NFL. They had played in Super Bowl II and lost the AFL Championship Game in the following two seasons. After losing the AFC Championship Game in 1970, the Raiders fell short of the playoffs in 1971. They won the AFC West in 1972 but were stunned by the Steelers on the Immaculate Reception in the Divisional Round. 

One player who grabbed headlines on the Raiders was their ageless wonder, George Blanda, the oldest player in NFL history, who turned 46 a week earlier and was playing in his 300th career game. Blanda's NFL career began with the Chicago Bears in 1949. Blanda spent a decade with the Bears as a backup quarterback. After one year away from football, he reemerged with the Houston Oilers in the AFL's first season. George Blanda led the Oilers to the first two championships in the AFL. In 1967, at the age of 40, Blanda signed with the Raiders, becoming a kicker.

It was a bad day for the Dolphins offense, as Bob Griese completed  12 of 25 passes for 90 yards. The game was played before 74,121 fans at Memorial Stadium on the campus of Cal-Berkely. The Oakland Alameda County Coliseum was unavailable due to the Oakland Athletics being on the way to a second straight World Championship. Larry Csonka also struggled, with 47 yards on ten carries, including a fumble on the game's first drive. Csonka's fumble led to the Raiders' first score, a 12-yard field goal by George Blanda. 

The Dolphins had a chance to score in the second quarter following an interception by Jake Scott. However, Garo Yepremian missed a 26-yard field goal. The Raiders would get a second field goal from Blanda and lead at the half 6-0. The 46-yard field goal matched the grey-haired kicker's age. In the third quarter, the Raiders got another field goal from George Blanda following a shanked punt by the usually reliable Larry Seiple. 

The Raiders would stretch the lead to 12-0 with Blanda hitting a ten-yard field goal. The Dolphins' defense did a good job keeping Miami in the game, as they did not allow a touchdown. However, four field goals by George Blanda had the Raiders smelling victory. Late in the fourth quarter, Miami was able to find their offense, as they drove down the field with Bob Griese connecting with Jim Mandich on a 28-yard touchdown pass. However, it was too late, as there was just one minute left when Mandich scored. The game would end on the following play as Pete Banaszak recovered an on-side kick. 

The Dolphins and Raiders would meet again later in the season with more on the line as Miami defeated Oakland in the AFC Championship Game to become the first team to make it to three consecutive Super Bowls.