Every year many who enjoy watching the NFL and considering its history find themselves eye rolling as the remaining members of the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins hoist champagne and hallelujahs over remaining the only team with that perfect season designation. And I suspect the "Oh brother" response to their celebration is rooted in a few things. First, it doesn't exactly feel like good sportsmanship. It's fine to take satisfaction in a record, but a little undignified to huzzah a thing you didn't have a hand in, like the singular defeat of another team by someone else. And there's something even more peculiar about senior citizens doing it. Second, they were lucky on the point, given two of the games they won were decided by paper thin margins, edging out the Bills that year by 1 point and the Vikings by 2. Third, a number of teams have equalled and surpassed their win total for a season.
I think that public perception has led many to underestimate how good that team was, and that in a way the seniors are doing their own legacy a disservice by concentrating attention on the least impressive thing about their legacy. I mean, a number of teams have equaled or surpassed their win total in the accomplishment, making it a little like an inverted appraisal of running backs with 16 game seasons and their rushing totals. And that's a shame, because that Miami team was a monster. Want proof? Here it is:
Average scoring per game: 27.5
Average scoring allowed: 12.2
Both of those were the top of the NFL that year and hold up pretty well against numbers in any era. To give you a sense of it, that great 89 Niners team looked like this:
Average scoring per game: 27.6
Average scoring allowed: 15.8
Or, even with a qb who rarely threw (even if when he did and Paul Warfield caught it the end result was about 20 yards a catch on average) that Fins team put up more than a win with defense points differential.
And Miami's leading rusher that year, Larry Csonka, averaged over 5 yards a carry while breaking through the 1,000 yard mark. To put that in perspective, Walter Payton averaged about 4.7 in his Super Bowl year with that great Bears team.
Average scoring per game: 28.5
Average scoring allowed: 12.4
I may do a post on this next with those averages from each SB winning team and how many HOFers were on them. That could be fun.