|Super Bowl VIII|
|Date||January 13, 1974|
|Stadium||Rice Stadium, Houston, Texas|
|MVP||Larry Csonka, Running back|
|Favorite||Dolphins by 6½|
|National anthem||Charley Pride|
|Coin toss||Game referee|
|Halftime show||The University of Texas Longhorn Band|
Future Hall of Famers Dolphins: Don Shula (coach), Nick Buoniconti, Larry Csonka, Bob Griese, Jim Langer, Larry Little, Paul Warfield.
|TV in the United States|
|Announcers||Ray Scott, Pat Summerall and Bart Starr|
|Nielsen ratings||41.6 |
(est. 51.7 million viewers)
|Cost of 30-second commercial||US$103,000|
Super Bowl VIII was a professional American football game played on January 13, 1974 at Rice Stadium. in Houston, Texas to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion following the 1973 regular season. The American Football Conference (AFC) champion Miami Dolphins (15-2) defeated the National Football Conference (NFC) champion Minnesota Vikings (14-3), 24–7. Scoring the first 24 points of the game and leading 24-0 entering the fourth quarter, the Dolphins easily won their second consecutive Super Bowl, and became the first team to appear in three consecutive Super Bowls.
Dolphins Running Back Larry Csonka, who ran for 145 yards and two touchdowns, was named the game's Most Valuable Player. Both his 145 rushing yards and his 33 carries were Super Bowl records. Csonka became the first running back to earn Super Bowl MVP honors.
Although the Dolphins were unable to match their 17-0 perfect season of 1972, many sports writers, fans, and Dolphins players themselves felt that the 1973 team was better. While the 1972 team faced no competition that possessed a better record than 8-6 in the regular season, the 1973 team played a much tougher schedule that included games against the Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Dallas Cowboys (all playoff teams), plus two games against a resurgent Buffalo Bills squad that featured 2,000-yard rusher O.J. Simpson. Miami finished with a 12-2 regular season, including their opening game victory over the San Francisco 49ers that tied an NFL record with 18 consecutive wins. The Dolphins' winning streak ended in week two with a 12-7 loss to the Raiders in Berkeley, California.
Just like the last two previous seasons, Miami's offense relied primarily on their rushing attack. Fullback Larry Csonka recorded his third consecutive 1,000 rushing yards season (1,003 yards), while running back Mercury Morris rushed for 954 yards and scored 10 touchdowns. Running back Jim Kiick was also a key contributor, rushing for 257 yards, and catching 27 passes for 208 yards. Quarterback Bob Griese, the AFC's second leading passer, completed only 116 passes for 1,422 yards, but threw more than twice as many touchdown passes (17) as interceptions (8), and earned an 84.3 passer rating. He became the first quarterback to start three Super Bowls and is joined by Jim Kelly as only quarterbacks to start at least three consecutive Super Bowls. Wide receiver Paul Warfield remained the main deep threat on the team, catching 29 passes for 514 yards and 11 touchdowns. Also, the offensive line was strong, once again led by center Jim Langer and right guard Larry Little. Griese, Csonka, Warfield, Langer, Bob Kuechenberg, Nick Buoniconti and Little would all eventually be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Miami's "No Name Defense" continued to dominate their opponents. Future Hall of Fame linebacker Nick Buoniconti recovered three fumbles and returned one for a touchdown. Safety Dick Anderson led the team with eight interceptions, which he returned for 163 yards and two touchdowns. And safety Jake Scott, the previous season's Super Bowl MVP, had four interceptions and 71 return yards. The Dolphins were still using their "53" defense devised at the beginning of the 1971 season, where Bob Matheson (#53) would be brought in as a fourth linebacker in a 3-4 defense, with Manny Fernandez at nose tackle. Matheson could either rush the passer or drop back into coverage.
The Vikings also finished the regular season with a 12-2 record, winning their first nine games before a loss on Monday Night Football to the Atlanta Falcons. Minnesota's offense was led by 13-year veteran quarterback Fran Tarkenton. During the regular season, Tarkenton completed 61.7 percent of his passes for 2,113 yards, 15 touchdowns, and just seven interceptions. He also rushed for 202 yards and another touchdown. The team's primary deep threat was Pro Bowl wide receiver John Gilliam, who caught 42 passes for 907 yards, an average of 21.6 yards per catch, and scored eight touchdowns. Tight End Stu Voigt was also a key element of the passing game, with 23 receptions for 318 yards and two touchdowns.
The Vikings' main weapon on their rushing game was NFL Rookie of the Year running back Chuck Foreman, who rushed for 801 yards, caught 37 passes for 362 yards, and scored six touchdowns. The Vikings had four other significant running backs: Dave Osborn, Bill Brown, Oscar Reed, and Ed Marinaro combined for 1,469 rushing/receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. The Vikings offensive line was also very talented, led by Ron Yary and six-time Pro Bowl player Mick Tingelhoff.
Their defense was once again anchored by a defensive line nicknamed the "Purple People Eaters", consisting of defensive tackles Gary Larsen and Alan Page, and defensive ends Jim Marshall and Carl Eller. Behind them, cornerback Bobby Bryant (seven interceptions, 105 return yards, one touchdown), and safety Paul Krause (four interceptions) led the defensive secondary.
The Vikings earned their second appearance in the Super Bowl after defeating the wild card Washington Redskins, 27-20, and the NFC Eastern Champion Dallas Cowboys 27-10, in the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Dolphins defeated the AFC Central Champion Cincinnati Bengals 34-16 in the divisional round, and the AFC Western Champion Oakland Raiders, 27-10 for the AFC Championship. The Dolphins were the first team to appear in three consecutive Super Bowls.
Super Bowl pregame news and notes
This was the first Super Bowl in which a former AFL franchise was the favorite. The 1970 AFC Champion Baltimore Colts had been the favorite in Super Bowl V, but they were an original NFL franchise prior the 1970 merger.
This was also the first Super Bowl played in a stadium that was not the current home to an NFL or AFL team, as no team had called Rice Stadium home since the Houston Oilers moved into the Astrodome.
The Vikings complained about their practice facilities at a Houston high school, a 20-minute bus ride from their hotel. They said the locker room was cramped, uncarpeted, had no lockers, and that most of the shower heads didn't work. The practice field had no blocking sleds. "I don't think our players have seen anything like this since junior high school," said Vikings head coach Bud Grant.
There were reports of dissension among the Dolphin team arising from owner Joe Robbie's decision to allow married players to bring their wives at the club's expense. The single players were reportedly angry that they couldn't bring their girlfriends or mothers.
Paul Warfield entered the game with a well-publicized hamstring injury in his left leg. Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Alan Page and Miami Dolphins left guard Bob Kuechenberg were former teammates at the University of Notre Dame. Kuechenberg would be blocking Page in Super Bowl VIII. Kuechenberg entered the game with a broken arm which was injured in a game played against the Baltimore Colts and wore a cast on that arm throughout the game.
On television before the game, New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath said, "If Miami gets the kickoff and scores on the opening drive, the game is over.". Indeed, the Dolphins became the first team score a touchdown after receiving the game's opening kickoff.
For this game, the Miami Dolphins were assigned the home team. The Dolphins wear white jerseys at home typically for day games, but due to a (since changed) uniform policy, the Dolphins were obligated to wear their aqua jerseys as the designated home team, although Miami wore its aqua jerseys for its final regular season home game (on a Saturday afternoon) that season vs. the Detroit Lions. Also, many Dolphin players wore a slightly different helmet decal than the rest...starting with the final regular season game of the 1973 season (and continuing throughout the playoffs) many players, mostly linemen, wore the decal that the team would adopt in 1974 (with the mascot dolphin leaping through the sun), while others wore helmets with the 1969-1973 decal (with the mascot dolphin halfway through the sun).
Famed "Gonzo" writer Hunter S. Thompson covered the game for Rolling Stone magazine, and his exploits in Houston are legendary.
This was the only Super Bowl in which the game ball had stripes. Until the late 1970s, stripes were permissible for NFL footballs for night games and other special situations.
Television and entertainment
The game was televised in the United States by CBS with play-by-play announcer Ray Scott and color commentators Pat Summerall and Bart Starr. This was Scott's final telecast for CBS. The following season Summerall would take Scott's place as the network's lead play-by-play announcer, holding that position through 1993, when CBS lost rights to the NFC television package to Fox.
The halftime show also featured the Longhorn Band, along with Judy Mallett, Miss Texas 1973, playing the fiddle, in a tribute to American music titled "A Musical America".
The Dolphins' game plan on offense was to use misdirection, negative-influence traps, and cross-blocking to exploit the Vikings defense's excellent pursuit. (The Kansas City Chiefs had used similar tactics against the same Vikings defensive line in Super Bowl IV). Wrote Jim Langer, "All this was successful right away. We kept ripping huge holes into their defense and Csonka kept picking up good yardage, especially to the right. We'd hear Alan [Page] cussing because those negative-influence plays were just driving him nuts. He didn't know what the hell to do." On defense the Dolphins' goal was to neutralize Chuck Foreman by using cat-quick Manny Fernandez at nose tackle and to make passing difficult for Tarkenton by double-teaming John Gilliam and knocking down his receivers. They were also depending on defensive ends Bill Stanfill and Vern Den Herder to contain Tarkenton's scrambling.
As they had the two previous Super Bowls, the Dolphins won the coin toss and elected to receive. The Dolphins dominated the Vikings right from the beginning, scoring touchdowns on two 10-play drives in the first quarter. Said Jim Langer, "It was obvious from the beginning that our offense could overpower their defense." First, Dolphins defensive back Jake Scott gave his team good field position by returning the opening kickoff 31 yards to the Miami 38-yard line. Then Mercury Morris ran right for four yards, Larry Csonka crashed through the middle for two, and quarterback Bob Griese completed a 13-yard pass to tight end Jim Mandich to advance the ball to the Vikings 43-yard line. Csonka then ran on second down for 16 yards, then Griese completed a six-yard pass to receiver Marlin Briscoe to the 21-yard line. Three more running plays, two by Csonka and one by Morris moved the ball to the Vikings 5-yard line. Csonka then finished the drive with a five-yard touchdown run.
Then after forcing Minnesota to punt after three plays, the Dolphins went 56 yards in 10 plays (aided with three runs by Csonka for eight, 12, and eight yards, and Griese's 13-yard pass to Briscoe) to score on running back Jim Kiick's one-yard run (his only touchdown of the season) to give them a 14-0 lead.
By the time the first quarter ended, Miami had run 20 plays for 118 yards and eight first downs, and scored touchdowns on their first two possessions. Meanwhile the Miami defense held the Minnesota offense to only 25 yards, six plays from scrimmage and one first down. The Vikings did not cross their own 23-yard line.
The situation never got much better for the Vikings the rest of the game. After each team traded punts early in the second period, Miami mounted a seven-play drive starting from their own 35-yard line, culminating in a 28-yard field goal from kicker Garo Yepremian to make the score 17-0 midway through the second quarter. On the first play of the drive, Minnesota was penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct on linebacker Wally Hilgenberg, who threw an elbow through Csonka's facemask, cutting Csonka above the eye.
The Vikings then had their best opportunity to score in the first half on their ensuing drive. Starting at their own 20-yard line, Minnesota marched to the Miami 15-yard line in nine plays, aided by Fran Tarkenton's completions of 17 and 14 yards to tight end Stu Voigt and wide receiver John Gilliam's 30-yard reception. Tarkenton's eight-yard run on first down then advanced the ball to the 7-yard line. But on the next two plays, Vikings running back Oscar Reed gained only one yard on two rushes, bringing up a fourth-down-and-one with less than a minute left in the half. Instead of kicking a field goal, Minnesota attempted to convert the fourth down with another running play by Reed. However, Reed lost the ball while being tackled by linebacker Nick Buoniconti, and Scott recovered the fumble.
Jim Langer wrote that at halftime, "We definitely knew that this game was over."
Gilliam returned the second half kickoff 65 yards, but a holding penalty on the play moved the ball all the way back to the Minnesota 11-yard line. Two plays later, Tarkenton was sacked for a six-yard loss by defensive tackle Manny Fernandez on third down, forcing Minnesota to punt from their own 7-yard line. Scott then returned the punt 12 yards to the Minnesota 43-yard line.
Miami then marched 43 yards in eight plays to score on Csonka's two-yard touchdown run through Hilgenberg to increase their lead to 24-0 with almost nine minutes left in the third quarter. The key play was Griese's third-and-five, 27-yard pass to wide receiver Paul Warfield to the Minnesota 11-yard line. It was Griese's last pass of the game and only Warfield's second, and last, catch of the game. (Because of his hamstring injury, Warfield had earlier been limping through primarily decoy routes.) After an exchange of punts, Minnesota got the ball back at their 43-yard line. They mounted a nine-play drive, running the ball only twice. On second-and-one at the Miami 4, Tarkenton himself ran it in around right end, and the extra point made it 24-7 with 13 minutes left in the game.
Minnesota recovered their ensuing onside kick, but an offsides penalty on the Vikings nullified the play, and they subsequently kicked deep. Miami went three-and-out, and Minnesota got the ball back at their own 3-yard line. Eight plays later the Vikings reached the Miami 32-yard line. After two incomplete passes, Tarkenton's pass intended for wide receiver Jim Lash was intercepted by Dolphins cornerback Curtis Johnson at the goal line. Miami got the ball back at their 10-yard line with 6:24 left in the game, and Csonka and Kiick then ran out the clock. With less than four minutes to play, a frustrated Alan Page was called for a personal foul for a late hit on Griese, and then one play later both Page and Kuechenberg were given offsetting personal fouls after getting in a scuffle with each other.
Wrote Jim Langer, "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."
Griese finished the game with just six out of seven pass completions for 73 yards. Miami's seven pass attempts were the fewest ever thrown by a team in the Super Bowl. The Dolphins rushed for 196 yards, did not have any turnovers, and were not penalized in the first 52 minutes. Tarkenton set what was then a Super Bowl record for completions, 18 out of 28 for 182 yards, with one interception, and rushed for 17 yards and a touchdown. Reed was the leading rusher for the Vikings, but with just 32 yards. Tight end Stu Voigt was the top receiver of the game with three catches for 46 yards. The Vikings' lethargic performance was very similar to their performance in their loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl IV.
Super Bowl postgame news and notes
In the Dolphins' locker room after the game, Csonka was asked about his battered face. Without naming Hilgenberg, he said, "It was a cheap shot, but an honest cheap shot. He came right at me and threw an elbow right through my mask. I could see the game meant something to him."
With their 32-2 record over two years, the still-young Dolphins appeared to have established a dynasty. In 1974, however, their offense was hurt by injuries to Csonka and the offensive line, and the defense was hurt by the departure of defensive coordinator Bill Arnsparger to become the New York Giants head coach. The Dolphins finished 11-3 but lost a dramatic playoff game to the Oakland Raiders. In 1975 Csonka, Kiick, and Warfield left to join the World Football League. The Dolphins would not win another playoff game until 1982.
|Paul Warfield||WR||John Gilliam|
|Wayne Moore||LT||Grady Alderman|
|Bob Kuechenberg||LG||Ed White|
|Jim Langer||C||Mick Tingelhoff|
|Larry Little||RG||Frank Gallagher|
|Norm Evans||RT||Ron Yary|
|Jim Mandich||TE||Stu Voigt|
|Marlin Briscoe||WR||Carroll Dale|
|Bob Griese||QB||Fran Tarkenton|
|Larry Csonka||FB||Oscar Reed|
|Mercury Morris||RB||Chuck Foreman|
|Vern Den Herder||LE||Carl Eller|
|Manny Fernandez||LDT||Gary Larsen|
|Bob Heinz||RDT||Alan Page|
|Bill Stanfill||RE||Jim Marshall|
|Doug Swift||LOLB||Roy Winston|
|Nick Buoniconti||MLB||Jeff Siemon|
|Mike Kolen||ROLB||Wally Hilgenberg|
|Lloyd Mumphord||LCB||Nate Wright|
|Curtis Johnson||RCB||Bobby Bryant|
|Dick Anderson||LS||Jeff Wright|
|Jake Scott||RS||Paul Krause|
- Referee: Ben Dreith (#12)
- Umpire: Ralph Morcroft (#15)
- Head Linesman: Leo Miles (#35)
- Line Judge: Jack Fette (#39)
- Field Judge: Fritz Graf (#34)
- Back Judge: Stan Javie (#29)
Note: A seven-official system was not used until the 1978 season.
Leo Miles was the first African-American to officiate in a Super Bowl.
- This was the first time in Super Bowl history that the game site was not the site of a NFL franchise. All of the previous Super Bowls were held at a home field of an existing NFL team. The Houston Oilers did in fact play at Rice Stadium from 1965 to 1967, but moved to the Houston Astrodome in 1968.
- This was also the first Super Bowl not to be held in either the Los Angeles, Miami, or New Orleans markets. The NFL would continue on a New Orleans/Miami/Los Angeles (Pasadena) rotation until Super Bowl XVI in 1982 (which was held in Pontiac, Michigan).
- Herskowitz, Mickey, "Purple People Eaten by Dolphins," The Super Bowl: Celebrating a Quarter-Century of America's Greatest Game. Simon and Schuster, 1990 ISBN 0-671-72798-2
- Dave Hyde, Still Perfect! The Untold Story of the 1972 Miami Dolphins, p271. Dolphins/Curtis Publishing, 2002 ISBN 0-9702677-1-1
- Thompson, Hunter S. "Fear and Loathing at the Super Bowl (1974)," Rolling Stone (magazine), February 28, 1974.
- Jim Langer, "Super Bowl VIII," Super Bowl: The Game of Their Lives, Danny Peary, editor. Macmillan, 1997. ISBN 0-02-860841-0
- On Larry Csonka's second touchdown, Bob Griese forgot the snap count at the line of scrimmage. He asked Csonka, who said "two." Kiick said, "No, it's one." Griese chose to believe Csonka, which was a mistake; it was "one." Griese bobbled the ball slightly, but still managed to get it to Csonka.
- Neft, David S., Cohen, Richard M., and Korch, Rick. The Complete History of Professional Football from 1892 to the Present. New York: St. Martins Press, 1994 ISBN 0312114354
- Super Bowl official website
- 2006 NFL Record and Fact Book. Time Inc. Home Entertainment. ISBN 1-933405-32-5.
- Total Football II: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League. Harper Collins. ISBN 1-933405-32-5.
- The Official NFL Encyclopedia Pro Football. NAL Books. ISBN 0-453-00431-8.
- The Sporting News Complete Super Bowl Book 1995. ISBN 0-89204-523-X.
- http://www.pro-football-reference.com - Large online database of NFL data and statistics
- Super Bowl play-by-plays from USA Today (Last accessed September 28, 2005)
- All-Time Super Bowl Odds from The Sports Network (Last accessed October 16, 2005)