Washington Redskins 7
Super Bowl VII featured a couple of firsts. The Miami Dolphins, making an appearance for the second-consecutive year, were the first undefeated team to play in the Super Bowl, and the Washington Redskins were making their first appearance in the big game ever.
The Dolphins were basically the same team that had lost to the Dallas Cowboys the previous year. They were led by head coach Don Shula, but there was some controversy over who should be the starting quarterback when the two teams faced off in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, site of the first Super Bowl.
38-year old Earl Morrall had led the Dolphins to nine-consecutive wins after Bob Griese suffered a broken ankle in the fifth game of the season. Griese had returned to full strength by the time the Super Bowl rolled around and Shula elected to put him in the starting lineup, saving Morrall as an insurance policy in case something happened to Griese again.
Morrall seemed to take the decision in stride saying, "Of course, I don't agree with the decision, but I'll abide by it. I thought I had a good year and should get the starting spot. Coach Shula told me the staff had a meeting and agreed we'd be stronger with Bob starting. I'll be ready. I'll watch the Redskins' defense and try to figure out what they're doing. And how they're reacting to our offense. It generally takes a period or two to get the feel of the defense."
Surprisingly the Dolphins were three-point underdogs to George Allen's Redskins who were led at quarterback by former UCLA All-American Billy Kilmer. The Skins were sporting an 11-3 regular-season record and playoff victories over Green Bay, 16-3, and Dallas, 26-3.
On game-day, the Dolphins drew first blood on their third possession. Starting from their own 37-yard line, they drove to the Washington 28, where Griese hit wide receiver Howard Twilley at the five-yard line, which Twilly took in for a touchdown.
In the second quarter Miami had apparently scored on a 47-yard pass from Griese to Paul Warfield, but the play was called back due to an illegal procedure penalty. The drive stalled, but the Dolphins got their score after Nick Buoniconti picked off a Billy Kilmer pass and returned it to the Washington 27-yard line. Jim Kiick punched the ball across the goal line five plays later to give the Dolphins a 14-0 lead heading into half time.
The Redskins opened the second half with a drive to the Dolphins' 17, but after Kilmer was sacked for an eight-yard loss, Curt Knight missed the 32-yard field goal attempt. Later a 79-yard drive by the Skins came up empty when Kilmer was picked off in the endzone by Jake Scott, who returned the ball to the Washington 48.
The interception set up one of the strangest plays in Super Bowl history. After moving into field goal range, Garo Yepremian's attempted kick was blocked and instead of just covering the ball, he tried to pick it up and throw it. Instead the ball slipped out of his hand and was batted right into the arms of Redskin's cornerback Mike Bass who ran the ball back 49 yards to cut the lead in half.
Fortunately for Yepremian the Dolphins were able to hold on to win the game 14-7 and finish off their undefeated season with a Super Bowl championship.