American Football Database

The NFL playoffs following the 1971 NFL season led up to Super Bowl VI. Like the previous NFL seasons, the home teams in the playoffs were decided based on a yearly divisional rotation, excluding the wild card teams who would always play on the road. It was the first time that the NFL scheduled games on Christmas Day, a decision that drew considerable criticism.


Note: Prior to the 1975 season, the home teams in the playoffs were decided based on a yearly rotation of division winners.
Divisional Playoffs Conf. Championship Games Super Bowl VI
December 26 - Candlestick Park        
 Washington Redskins  20
January 2 - Texas Stadium
 San Francisco 49ers  24  
 San Francisco 49ers  3
December 25 - Metropolitan Stadium
     Dallas Cowboys  14  
 Dallas Cowboys  20
January 16 - Tulane Stadium
 Minnesota Vikings  12  
 Dallas Cowboys  24
December 26 - Cleveland Stadium    
   Miami Dolphins  3
 Baltimore Colts  20
January 2 - Miami Orange Bowl
 Cleveland Browns  3  
 Baltimore Colts  0
December 25 - Municipal Stadium
     Miami Dolphins  21  
 Miami Dolphins (2OT)  27
 Kansas City Chiefs  24  

Divisional playoffs

December 25, 1971

AFC: Miami Dolphins 27, Kansas City Chiefs 24 (2OT)

Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Dolphins 0 10 7 7


Chiefs 10 0 7 7


at Municipal Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri

  • Game time: 4:00 p.m. EST/3:00 p.m. CST
  • Game weather: 62 °F (17 °C), partly cloudy
  • Game attendance: 45,822
  • Referee: John McDonough
  • TV announcers (NBC): Curt Gowdy and Al DeRogatis

In the longest NFL game played to date at 82 minutes, 40 seconds[1] (and the Chiefs' last-ever game at Municipal Stadium), Miami kicker Garo Yepremian kicked the winning 37-yard field goal after 7:40 of double-overtime. The Chiefs jumped to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter with Jan Stenerud's 24-yard field goal and quarterback Len Dawson's 7-yard touchdown pass to Ed Podolak. But the Dolphins tied the game in the second quarter with Yepremian's 14-yard field goal and running back Larry Csonka's 1-yard touchdown run. The teams exchanged touchdowns in the third quarter before Podolak scored on a 3-yard run in the fourth period. But Miami quarterback Bob Griese threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to tight end Marv Fleming to tie the game. Podolak returned the ensuing kickoff 78 yards to the Dolphins 22-yard line before being shoved out of bounds by Miami's Curtis Johnson, giving Stenerud a chance to win the game for the Chiefs in the final minute of regulation. But he missed the field goal attempt from 31 yards and the game went into overtime.

Kansas City took the opening kickoff of the first overtime period, but Stenerud 42-yard field goal attempt was blocked. Yepremian also attempted a 52-yard field goal later in the period, but missed. Csonka's 29-yard run in the second quarter set up Yepremian's game-winning score.

Podolak's 350 all-purpose yards (8 receptions for 110 yards, 17 carries for 85 yards, 3 kickoff returns for 154 yards, two punt returns for two yards) in this game remain an NFL playoff record, and is still the fourth highest total in NFL history. "I don't think any one player in a big game, a monumental game like that, had a day like Eddie Podolak had," said Chiefs coach Hank Stram after the game.[1] Dolphins receiver Paul Warfield finished with 7 receptions for a career postseason high 140 yards, while Dolphins linebacker Nick Buoniconti racked up 20 tackles.[2]

NFC: Dallas Cowboys 20, Minnesota Vikings 12

Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Cowboys 3 3 14 0


Vikings 0 3 0 9


at Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, Minnesota

  • Game time: 1:00 p.m. EST/12:00 p.m. CST
  • Game weather: 31 °F (−1 °C), mostly cloudy
  • Game attendance: 47,307
  • Referee: Norm Schachter
  • TV announcers (CBS): Jack Whitaker and Irv Cross

Although the Vikings outgained the Cowboys 311-183, Dallas converted turnovers into 13 points en route to a 20-12 win. The Cowboys jumped to a 6-3 halftime lead after converting a fumble recovery and an interception into field goals. Then, Cliff Harris' 30-yard interception return on the second play of the third quarter set up Duane Thomas' 13-yard touchdown run to give Dallas a 13-3 lead. Quarterback Roger Staubach then extended the lead with his 9-yard touchdown pass to Bob Hayes. The Vikings scored 9 unanswered points in the fourth quarter but it was not enough to make up for the deficit.

December 26, 1971

AFC: Baltimore Colts 20, Cleveland Browns 3

Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Colts 0 14 3 3


Browns 0 0 3 0


at Cleveland Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio

Don Nottingham scored two touchdowns as the Colts limited the Browns to only 3 points. Nottingham's first score, a 1-yard touchdown run, was set up after Bubba Smith blocked Cleveland kicker Don Cockroft's 4-yard field goal attempt. Then in the second quarter, Safety Rick Volk's 37-yard interception return set up Nottingham's 7-yard touchdown run. Colts kicker Jim O'Brien also contributed with 2 field goals.

NFC: San Francisco 49ers 24, Washington Redskins 20

Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Redskins 7 3 3 7


49ers 0 3 14 7


at Candlestick Park, San Francisco

The 49ers defense made key plays to lead San Francisco to a 24-20 victory over the Redskins. Washington scored first after Jon Jaqua blocked a punt to set up quarterback Billy Kilmer's 5-yard pass. Then after the teams exchanged field goals, the Redskins took the opening kickoff of the second half and drove to the San Francisco 11-yard line. But on fourth down and inches to go, Frank Nunley tackled Larry Brown for a 2-yard loss. Three plays later, 49ers quarterback John Brodie threw a 78-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Gene Washington to tie the game. Then, Roosevelt Taylor's interception set up Bob Windsor's 2-yard touchdown reception to give San Francisco a 17-10 lead. The 49ers later put the game away in the fourth quarter after defensive tackle Bob Hoskins recovered a bad snap on a Washington punt attempt in the end zone.

Conference championships

January 2, 1972

AFC Championship: Miami Dolphins 21, Baltimore Colts 0

Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Colts 0 0 0 0


Dolphins 7 0 7 7


at Miami Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida

Although Miami quarterback Bob Griese completed only 4 passes, the Dolphins defense shut out the Colts. Defensive back Dick Anderson intercepted 3 passes, returning one of them 62 yards for a touchdown. Paul Warfield recorded a 75-yard touchdown reception midway through the first quarter. Then in the fourth quarter, Griese's 50-yard pass to Warfield set up Larry Csonka's 5-yard touchdown run.

NFC Championship: Dallas Cowboys 14, San Francisco 49ers 3

Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
49ers 0 0 3 0


Cowboys 0 7 0 7


at Texas Stadium, Irving, Texas

In the first playoff game at Texas Stadium, the Cowboys defense dominated the 49ers offense by only allowing 61 rushing yards, 9 first downs, and forcing 3 interceptions. In the second quarter, Dallas defensive end George Andrie intercepted a screen pass at the San Francisco 8-yard line to set up Calvin Hill's 1-yard touchdown run. Then in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys marched 80 yards in 14 plays to score on Duane Thomas' 2-yard touchdown run.

Box scores

Super Bowl

Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Cowboys (NFC) 3 7 7 7


Dolphins (AFC) 0 3 0 0


at Tulane Stadium, New Orleans, Louisiana



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