Golden Football Magazine
NFL Championship Games
Super Bowl VII - Minnesota Vikings vs Miami Dolphins: Second Half
This series covers the history of the NFL through the prism of its yearly championship games.
Note: The gray boxes contain asides that provide interesting material but could be skipped
without losing the continuity of the article.

Part 1 - Pregame | Part 2 - 1st Half


Stu Voigt


Mike Kolen


Fernandez drags down Tarkenton.


Mike Eischeid


Csonka gains tough yardage.


Paul Warfield


Griese rolls out.


Csonka on the loose


Mike Seiple


Jake Scott returns punt.


Csonka and Kiick on sideline.


Jim Lash


Terry Brown


Csonka tries to dodge Siemon.


Hilgenberg tackles Griese as Jeff Wright assists.


Bill Brown


Doug Kingsriter


Ed Marinaro


Tarkenton throws over Matheson.


Scott drags down Marinaro.


Csonka leaves to big ovation.


Shula hugs defensive coach Bill Arnsparger after the win.


Quarter 3

The Vikings needed to come out of the locker room with a sense of urgency and take the kickoff and score. They got the spark they needed from John Gilliam, who took the kick at the 1 and returned it 65y. But their bad luck continued. The play was called back and Minnesota penalized half the distance to the goal for clipping. Stu Voigt was the culprit.

John Gilliam returns kickoff.
From the 11, the downtrodden Vikes got just what they didn't need - a three-and-out. After Foreman ran for 2, disaster almost struck. Tarkenton rolled right, then threw back to the middle for Foreman. With nothing but green artificial turf between him and the goal line, LB Mike Kolen let the ball go right through his hands to Chuck, whom Mike tackled for no gain. On 3rd-and-8, Fernandez shrugged off two blockers and sacked Tarkenton, fleeing to the right, for a loss of 6. So Eischeid boomed a 48y punt that Scott returned 12y to the Viking 43.

Csonka plows ahead.
From there, the Dolphins removed all doubt as to who would win by driving to their third TD in eight plays. After runs by Morris for 1 and Csonka on a draw for 4, Siemon making both tackles, Griese converted the 3rd-and-5 with a 27y lob to Warfield, who made a diving catch behind Bryant just inside the left sideline at the 11.
Bryant: One play that stands out was the 27-yard pass that Paul Warfield got on me. That brought them into the red zone. We had heard for the whole week that Warfield had a pulled hamstring. They wanted us to believe that he couldn't run. He was running pretty well when the game came around and on that play he had me beat. Bob Griese threw the pass well. I was right behind Warfield and I was able to tackle him shortly after he caught it, but that put them down there. ... I don't think Warfield liked me. The first time we played one another, when he was with Cleveland in 1969, I intercepted three passes against him. And after he caught his first pass, in this Super Bowl - it was an out pattern for a six-yard gain - I pushed him out-of-bounds. He just said:: "That all you got, Bryant? Because if it is, I'm gonna wear you out all day."
Larry rammed for 4 at RT. Then Bob tried to pass rolling right but, finding no one open in the EZ, ran for 2y. On 3rd down, the Vikings made a play that would at least hold Miami to a FG when Morris was cut down for a loss of 8 around LE. But once again their hopes were dashed when Hilgenberg was called for holding, giving Miami an automatic first down at the 8. Two Csonka runs took it in from there, first for 6 through a gaping hole at LT, then over the right side into the EZ. Dolphins 24 Vikings 0 (8:44)
After the game, Griese said of the scoring play: I got to the line of scrimmage and started looking the defense over and forgot the count. I turned around and asked Csonka. Why I did that I don't know. He's always forgetting the count. Larry shouted, 'It's one - no wait - it's two. Well as it turned out it was one. Jim Langer snapped the ball in my hand, and I just handed it to Larry. We laughed about it coming off the field. Bob bobbled the snap slightly before handing the ball to Larry.
Siemon was asked years later if his D-coordinator, Neill Armstrong, should have moved a safety man up to the line to stop the run. They did have Paul Warfield and Marlin Briscoe, both of whom were fleet, outstanding receivers and had to be respected. I think it would have been a little dangerous to show them an eight-man front ... We were so basic in our philosophy.

Csonka scores Miami's third TD.
Gilliam got another nice return, meandering 21y to the 26. Tarkenton now faced a defense that knew he had to pass. On first down, he faded back but, seeing no one in the middle of the field, ran for 5y. Then he threw a swing pass to Foreman for a 1st down at the 41. Reed advanced 6y on a draw play before taking a looping flare pass from Tarkenton for a loss of 1. On 3rd-and-5, Tarkenton apparently thought he could catch the defense off guard with a running play, but Reed gained only 1 up the middle. Eischeid's punt went off the side of his foot but got a good roll to the Miami 11.
Csonka roared through the huge opening up the middle to the 27. On the next snap, Marshall hit Larry as soon as he took the handoff for a loss of 2. Following Csonka's 5y gain, Griese chose not to pass on 3rd down, handing to his big FB who gained only 3. So Seiple came in for only the second time. His short kick traveled only to the Minnesota 43.
Griese admitted he turned conservative after the third TD. Hell, I know how good our defense is. I stopped calling those tricky draw plays. I wasn't going to give them anything.

Csonka follows Morris.
Could the Vikings take advantage of good field position? The answer was yes, as Tarkenton & Company finally sustained a drive into the EZ. Fran began by throwing to Foreman for 8 up the middle. Then RB Ed Marinaro saw his first action, getting a 1st down with a 3y run. After Tark's pass to Foreman was broken up, Fran scrambled and threw to Gilliam for a gain of 2.
End of Q3: Dolphins 24 Vikings 0

Quarter 4

Facing 3rd-and-8, Tarkenton threw down the middle to Voigt, who extended to grab the ball at the Miami 29. Then Gilliam took in a pass just before stepping out at the right sideline at the 20. Next, Fran's down-and-out pass to the left flew over the head of Lash. Reed scampered around RE for a 1st down at the 13. Then Lash did a down and out, snagging the ball as he made his cut and going out of bounds just inside the 4. Then Fran called his own number, rolling right behind three blockers and lunging into the EZ. Cox booted the PAT. Dolphins 24 Vikings 7

Siemon and Hilgenberg tackle Csonka.
Grant decided he couldn't wait to start trying onside kicks. Cox ran up and raked the ball to the left. Terry Brown recovered in the scramble at midfield. But once again, a penalty cancelled a Viking play - offside. With Miami's good hands team now in the game, Cox squibbed the ball to the 18, where Scott gathered it in and returned 16y. For the first time, the Vikings forced a three-and-out. Two runs netted just 1y, Csonka for 3 and Morris thrown down by the shoulder pads by Winston for -2. Would Griese pass? He tried to but decided to run, reaching the 40. Seiple made up for his previous poor punt by launching one that traveled 57y and was downed by Kolen at the 3.
It's a good thing Larry got off a boomer because the Dolphins had only ten men on the field. Miami personnel director Bob Beathard was on the field helping with special teams. Shula could count faster than I could, and he comes running up to me and said, "Ten f***king men on the field." The guy missing was Ed Newman, a chemistry major from Duke. If I had a facemask, he would have grabbed it. When I was around Don Shula, I always had the impression people were on their toes - everybody in the organization - because there was a fear. You respected him, you liked him, but there was a fear. There was nothing guaranteed - and I think that's healthy.

Winston pulls down Morris for 2y loss.
Tarkenton gained breathing room by passing out of his EZ to Marinaro for 12y. After an incompletion to Lash, Fran called a draw for Reed that gained 9. Grant didn't have to make a decision to go for it on 4th down deep in his territory after Reed got 2 to move the chains. Following an errant pass to Oscar, Fran found RB Bill Brown under the zone coverage for 9. Brown then gained another 1st down off LT to the 37. Tark then threw to Kingsriter and got an interference call when Foley went through the receiver to knock the ball away. 1st and 10 at the 41. Marinaro made Viking fans wonder why he hadn't played more when he took a swing pass and rocketed through the defense for 27y before Scott swung him down by his shirt. It was Tarkenton's 18th compeltion to set a Super Bowl record. On 1st-and-10 at the Dolphin 32, a pass to Lash in the left edge of the EZ sailed out of bounds. Another incompletion followed to Voigt down the middle. Fran then tried Lash again but overthrew the ball and Curtis Johnson took it on the run at the 2 and carried it out to the 10.

Dolphins defense swarms.
Miami would now get the satisfaction of running out the remaining 6:24 on the clock against the proud Minnesota defense. Csonka and Kiick alternated carrying the ball. Csonka gained 7, then 5 more to not only get a 1st down but set a new record for yards rushing in a Super Bowl. Kiick and Csonk each gained 1. Then the Vikings appeared to stop Miami on 3rd down by downing Larry after a gain of just 2. But Page was flagged for a personal foul for hitting Griese late to move the ball to the 41.
Grant explained afterward: Alan thought Griese had the ball. The QB had his back to him.
The relentless machine churned out 4 for Csonka, 5 for Kiick with offsetting personal fouls called on Kuchenberg and Page for scuffling after the play. As a final ignominy, Minnesota was offside before the next snap to give Miami another 1st down. After three runs gained 9 (Kiick 1, Csonk 6 and 2), the teal-shirted offense stayed on the field for 4th-and-1 - perhaps as a reaction to Grant calling a timeout before the previous play. Csonka got 2 to record Miami's 21st first down. At that point, Shula sent Don Nottingham in for Csonka so that the fans could give the Green Hulk a rousing ovation. On the final play, Kiick added 5y to his total.
Kuechenberg: As the clock ticked down at the end of the game, Larry Csonka got called off the field to get a big hug and I did too. That was the only hug I got from Coach Shula in my career. That was his way of saying thank you.
FINAL SCORE: DOLPHINS 24 VIKINGS 7

Video of Super Bowl VIII ...

Final statistics

  • Time of possession: Dolphins 33:45 Vikings 26:15
  • First downs: Dolphins 21 Vikings 14
  • Rushing: Dolphins 53-196 Vikings 24-72
  • Passing: Dolphins 7-6-0/63 Vikings 28-18-1/166
  • Return yardage: Dolphins 6-77 Vikings 4-69
  • Fumbles-Lost: Dolphins 1-0 Vikings 2-1
  • Penalties: Dolphins 1-4 Vikings 7-65
  • Punting average: Dolphins 3-39.7 Vikings 5-42.2
  • Attendance: 68,142

No one was surprised that the Most Valuable Player Award went to Larry Csonka.

Post Game

Dolphins

  • The blackboard in the Miami dressing room had two words written in chalk: Best Ever.
  • Coach Don Shula: Going 17-0 like we did last year is something I'll look back on when I'm old and be proud of. But I'm even prouder of this team because they had to overcome a lot. ... There's no question we're a better football team than a year ago. I think we've gone a step beyond last year even we were 17-0 then, a perfect season. I think going back-to-back in Super Bowls is more meaningful. It provevs this football team can get it done. ... It's not my job to say we're the best, although I feel that way.
    Shula gave a game ball to D-coordinator and assistant head coach Bill Arnsparger, then confirmed the rumor that Bill would become head coach of the New York Giants.
  • FB Larry Csonka, who carried the ball a Super Bowl record 33 times: It doesn't do any good if you don't get through that hole. I had plenty of openings today. Our linemen are no longer knuckle-dragging, low IQ people. They have intelligence, and they mean something to the team's success. Asked about the gash on his forehead, Larry replied, A fellow on the Minnesota team - I won't mention his name - hit me with a cheap shot. He got a forearm right in my face. ... It's my greatest moment in football. ... I think now we can consider ourselves comparable to "The Pack." We had to reserve our opinion before the game but no more.
  • HB Mercury Morris: When Csonka is having a hell of a day, that's all you need. Oh man, he was devastating. He's a physical person. He runs into people, knocks them down. When you get down to the basics of blocking, tackling, and running, that's what he's all about.
  • QB Bob Griese: Late tonight when I'm sitting back and relaxing, I think all of this will sink in, and I will have a hard time believing it. We did just what we've been doing all year. We just ran over them. The fact we scored on the first possession was an indication we were ready to play. ... Too many times, teams come into a Super Bowl and start off conservatively. We were ready. We came out to win the game rather than waiting for them to lose it.
    Griese said later, Our offensive linemen ... just dominated the line of scrimmage ... Before the game, everyone was talking about Minnesota's defensive line ... If you look at it, our line was probably the heart of our team. Our whole attack was structured around it. ... the score didn't really sum up how one-sided the game was.
  • C Jim Langer: If we're not the greatest football team that ever was, then there never was one. I don't give a damn what Green Bay did!
    Years later, Langer recalled, We just hit the Vikings defense so hard and so fast that they didn't know what hit them. Alan Page later said he knew we would dominate them after only the first couple of plays.
    Jim added: There were ... all kinds of guys who had everyone's respect on both sides of the ball. What it came down to was that nobody wanted to let anybody else down. ... We had nobody who thought he was better than the team. If we did, we'd go to the coach and say, "Get rid of this son of a bitch. He's a problem." We policed ourselves; the coaches didn't have to worry. ... We knew that if we played our game, there was nobody we couldn't beat. As we went into the playoffs we were, to use the old cliché, peaking at the right time. We were just like a steamroller.
  • G Bob Kuechenberg: I think this Miami team has been slow in being recognized partly because we're an AFC team and also because we're not in a big northern city where the publicity is. The old Packers never did what we did. I just don't think there has ever been a better team.
  • Marlin Briscoe: It's the first time this year we've been emotional. It has been a long year. ... We really let it go.
  • Nick Buoniconti: We're not real emotional. We try to hold back. That way you avoid the peaks and valleys. ... This wasn't a real physical game. We did some bending, but we played more on finesse. We knew if we could stop the run and keep Fran Tarkenton from rolling out right, we could stop them and we did it. It also helps when your offense scores the first time it has the ball. They did that in all three playoff games. Asked about the Dolphins' place in football history, Nick replied, I hope you guys write us up as a great football team because that's what we are.
    Buoniconti said years later: This team was better than the 17-0 team and should have gone undefeated also. We killed Cincinnati and Oakland in the playoffs and then killed Minnesota in the Super Bowl. But I would never wear the ring for Super Bowl VIII, only the one from Super Bowl VII. The win in VIII was anticlimactic.
  • Manny Fernandez: They tried an unbalanced line, but we caught it fast. We really wanted to shut them out because they lost their poise and started playing dirty. Those Purple People Eaters didn't eat many people today, did they? ... We're a bunch of no-names because you writers are all fouled up. We're the best team in football. What do you think now?
  • TE Marv Fleming, who had just won his fourth Super Bowl, two with Green Bay and two with Miami, proclaimed: This is the greatest team ever.
    During the week before the game, Marv had famously said, I get up for the money. Most of these guys will be playing with pride as the main incentive, but, with me, it's money.
  • Owner Joe Robbie: I'm perfectly satisfied with 32-2 (Miami's record for the 1972-73 seasons). ... This is the greatest team - ever. Dynasty? That's a word I'll never use except in retrospect. But I hope some day I can use it. We've only tied Green Bay's record of back-to-back Super Bowls. Next year we have to break it.

Vikings

  • Coach Bud Grant: I knew we were in trouble after their first drive. They didn't do anything we didn't expect. They ran the plays we saw in the movies. ... They took the ball, went down the field, and got 14 points the first two times they had the ball. That kind of a lead is hard to overcome against the good teams. We made some errors that prevented us from getting on the scoreboard earlier. There is no secret to this game. You block and tackle. If you don't, you're in trouble. On his QB: Francis faced many difficult situations and under the circumstances, he did very well. When you fall 14 points behind, they know you're going to pass. ... We scored 17 points against them in the preseason and beat them. But we had a great kickoff return called back, and a penalty cost us on another big play when our fumble recovery was nullified after our touchdown. On starting G Milt Sunde missing the game: That didn't make any difference in the outcome of the game. It was a decision we made this morning. Early in the week, we were still hopeful Sunde could play. Bud did not think his players were taking out their frustrations with cheap shots that led to 15y penalties.
  • QB Fran Tarkenton: They not only played as well as they could, they got all the breaks. Jake Scott fumbled our first punt after he was hit by Ron Porter, but the ball bounced right back in his hands and they drove for their second touchdown. Then we get called for clipping after John Gilliam returned the second half kickoff 65 yards. ... I'm going back to the hotel and have fun at our party. I'll wake up tomorrow and have a nice breakfast and then go back to Atlanta.
  • LB Wally Hilgenberg: They just ran the ball down our throats, and we couldn't stop them.
  • LB Jeff Siemon: They outplayed us and got the breaks. They have a great team, but I think we can beat them. ... We would need our share of the breaks, and we'd have to play without some of the mistakes we made. ... We had a great year. Unfortunately, it had to end on a sad note. But we came back from a 7-7 season and played some excellent football getting this far. Siemon dismissed any talk of the subpar practice facilities contributing to the defeat. It got to be a joke by the middle of the week. The practice facility was not very good, but that had no effect whatsoever on the outcome of the game. We were just outplayed.
    Vikings offensive coach Jerry Burns admitted later: Shula probably had his team more ready than our team.
    GM Jim Finks said, Nobody would have beat the Miami club the way it played in this game ...

Shula meets Grant as they depart the stadium.
The one smiling lost the game.
Future Hall of Famers in Super Bowl VIII:
Miami Dolphins - Coach Don Shula, Nick Buoniconti, Larry Csonka, Bob Griese, Jim Langer, Larry Little, Paul Warfield
Minnesota Vikings- Carl Eller, GM Jim Finks, Coach Bud Grant, Paul Krause, Alan Page, Fran Tarkenton, Mike Tinglehoff, Ron Yary

Postscript

Years later, Shula would recall his feelings after Super Bowl VIII. I can't tell you how good I felt after that second Super Bowl. We were a young team, with nowhere to go but up. Then one phone call and it all changed. He was referring to Paul Warfield, Larry Csonka, and Jim Kiick signing contracts with the Memphis Southmen of the World Football League, which started play in the summer of 1974. The three had one more year on their contracts with Miami but joined the new team for the 1975 season, which was not completed as the league folded. Jim Kuechenberg later said, The NFL couldn't stop us. It took another league to do it.
The Dolphins made the playoffs in 1974 but lost a heartbreaker to the Raiders in the AFC championship game on a last-second TD pass. Miami would not appear in the Super Bowl again until 1982. They lost that one along with another two years later.