We have reached a milestone on NFL Thursday: The Year of Perfection. In all the seasons of professional football in America, only one time has a team gone through the entire schedule, including the postseason, without a loss or a tie. Yes, you know who we’re talking about, and it’s been 50 years now since it happened, so get ready for that celebration all Fall 2022 long …
(And if you’re willing, check out our first miniseries entry on this year for context.)
Super Bowl VII MVP: Jake Scott, S, Miami (original), Manny Fernandez, DT, Miami (revised)
The Miami Dolphins completed the rise from expansion team in 1966 to all-time legends in 1972 with a 14-7 victory over the Washington Redskins in the Big Game. It was a boring game, in truth, with only 481 total yards gained by the two teams. The Dolphins had a 14-0 lead at halftime, and only a special-teams blunder by Miami in the fourth quarter enabled Washington to score with barely 2 minutes left.
Dolphins free safety Jake Scott was named the game’s MVP as he notched two interceptions and made two tackles. It may be hard to find an offensive rival for him here, but if there is one, it’s fullback Larry Csonka, who gained 112 yards on just 15 carries. Of course, he had a long run of 49 yards, so his baser number were 14 carries for 63 yards. That’s still better than any of the other offensive guys for Miami.
Csonka also had one reception where he lost a yard, so it’s hard to isolate one person here who deserves the MVP. That being said, qualitative reports of the game claim Dolphins defensive tackle Manny Fernandez had 17 tackles in the game, 11 of them solo efforts. That is absolutely insane: He should have been the MVP of the game, period.
1972 NFL ROTY: Franco Harris, RB, Pittsburgh & Willie Buchanon, CB, Green Bay (original); Harris (revised)
The Pittsburgh Steelers made the playoffs for the first time since 1947, and rookie running back Franco Harris—with 1,235 scrimmage yards and 11 touchdowns—got a lot of the credit, winning the vote for offensive ROTY. Meanwhile, the Green Bay Packers went 10-4 to claim their first postseason berth since winning Super Bowl II. The Packers had two rookie standouts, including cornerback Willie Buchanon.
He won the defensive ROTY nod, but Buchanon was actually outdone by Cincinnati Bengals FS Tommy Casanova—who had more INTs and sacks than Buchanon did. Plus, with rookie kicker Chester Marcol on board (he led the league in scoring with 128 points), the Pack had two guys in contention here, so they both cancel each other out. Therefore, we will give Harris the full nod here.
The Steelers didn’t get to the postseason because of Harris, per se: They had two pretty good backs the prior year already (Frenchy Fuqua, Preston Pearson), and the QB play was still inconsistent. But Harris did give the Pittsburgh offense its best weapon while leading the RB-by-committee approach, and he also fumbled less than the two others had combined the year before. That’s good enough for us.