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NFL – Throwback Thursday: Squishing The Fish

30 Sep

We’re already headed into week 4 of the young NFL season, and one of this week’s matchups features a pair of teams who were once division rivals in the AFC East – the Miami Dolphins and Baltimore (now Indianapolis) Colts. The game we are highlighting was played on December 9, 1973 at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium. The Dolphins were the class of the NFL at the time, having completed a perfect 17-0 season in 1972 culminating in their first Super Bowl win. Some consider the 1973 club even better, even though they had lost to Oakland earlier in the year to snap their unbeaten streak. Miami came into the game heavy favorites, with an 11-1 record under coach Don Shula, who had formerly coached the Colts. Baltimore entered the game with a dismal 2-10 mark, and were coached by Shula’s old assistant, Howard Schnellenberger. Also, the rivalry between these 2 teams had been completely one-sided in Miami’s favor. The Fish owned 4 consecutive shutout victories over the Colts, including a 44-0 shellacking in Miami’s Orange Bowl a month earlier. Even with all the odds stacked against the Colts, this turned out to be one of those “any given Sundays” that pop up in the NFL all the time.

Baltimore achieved what had to be a moral victory in the first quarter when George Hunt kicked a short field goal to give his team their first score of any kind in 5 meetings against the stifling Dolphins. Colts’ quarterback Marty Domres played an extremely conservative game on this day in an era where conservative was the norm. Relying on his running game and throwing only 8 passes, the career journeyman signal caller engineered touchdown drives in each of the next 2 quarters. Bill Olds scored from 2 yards out to up the lead to 10-0 at halftime, and Domres found tight end Tom Mitchell for a 1 yard touchdown toss to put the Colts up 16-0 with the extra point attempt failing. Meanwhile, the Colts’ defense played their best game of the season, picking off a pair of Dolphin passes and recovering a fumble. They also at least contained Miami’s strong rushing attack, and held the defending champs to only 228 total yards. Garo Yepremian’s fourth quarter field goal was all the offense the proud Dolphins could muster on this day, and the Colts pulled off a huge 16-3 upset. Player of the game for Baltimore was their workhorse running back Lydell Mitchell, who carried 35 times for 104 hard-earned yards.

Miami got the wake-up call from this loss, for certain. They won their final game of the regular season, pounding Detroit 34-7, then defeated Cincinnati in the divisional playoffs, and avenged the earlier loss to the Raiders in the AFC title game. The season ended with a second straight Super Bowl title win as they defeated the Minnesota Vikings.

 

Colts’ QB Marty Domres celebrates the upset win

 

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