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Super Bowl VI

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Super Bowl VI

Super Bowl VI
1 2 3 4 Total
DAL 3 7 7 7 24
MIA 0 3 0 0 3
Date January 16, 1972 (1972-01-16)
Stadium Tulane Stadium, New Orleans, Louisiana
MVP Roger Staubach, Quarterback
Favorite Cowboys by 6
Referee Jim Tunney
Attendance 81,023
Future Hall of Famers
Cowboys: Tom Landry (coach), Herb Adderley, Lance Alworth, Mike Ditka, Forrest Gregg, Bob Hayes, Bob Lilly, Mel Renfro, Roger Staubach, Rayfield Wright.
Dolphins: Don Shula (coach), Nick Buoniconti, Larry Csonka, Bob Griese, Jim Langer, Larry Little, Paul Warfield.
National anthem U.S. Air Force Academy Chorale
Coin toss Jim Tunney
Halftime show "Salute to Louis Armstrong" with Ella Fitzgerald, Carol Channing, Al Hirt and the U.S. Marine Corps Drill Team
TV in the United States
Network CBS
Announcers Ray Scott and Pat Summerall
Nielsen ratings 44.2
(est. 56.64 million viewers)[1]
Market share 74
Cost of 30-second commercial US$86,000
 < V Super Bowl VII > 

Super Bowl VI was an American football game between the National Football Conference (NFC) champion Dallas Cowboys and the American Football Conference (AFC) champion Miami Dolphins to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 1971 season. The Cowboys defeated the Dolphins by the score of 24–3, to win their first Super Bowl. The game was played on January 16, 1972, at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans, Louisiana, the second time the Super Bowl was played in that city.

Dallas, in its second Super Bowl appearance, entered the game with a reputation of not being able to win big playoff games such as Super Bowl V and the 1966 and 1967 NFL Championship Games prior to the 1970 AFL-NFL Merger. They posted an 11–3 record during the 1971 regular season before defeating the Minnesota Vikings and the San Francisco 49ers in the playoffs. The Dolphins were making their first Super Bowl appearance after building a 10–3–1 regular season record, including eight consecutive wins, and posting postseason victories over the Kansas City Chiefs and the Baltimore Colts.

The Cowboys dominated Super Bowl VI, setting Super Bowl records for the most rushing yards (252), the most first downs (23), and the least points allowed (3). They remain the only team ever to prevent their opponent from scoring a touchdown in the Super Bowl. The game was close in the first half, with the Cowboys only leading 10–3 at halftime. But Dallas opened the third quarter with a 71-yard, 8-play touchdown drive, and then Dallas linebacker Chuck Howley's 41-interception return in the fourth quarter set up another score. Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach, who completed 12 out of 19 passes for 119 yards, threw 2 touchdown passes, and rushed 5 times for 18 yards, and was named the Super Bowl's Most Valuable Player.[2]

This would be the last Super Bowl to be blacked out in the TV market in which the game was played. Under the NFL's unconditional blackout rules at the time, the Super Bowl could not be broadcast locally even if the local team did not advance to the Super Bowl, and it was a sellout. The following year, the league changed their rules to allow games to be broadcast in the local market if sold out 72 hours in advance.


The NFL awarded Super Bowl VI to New Orleans on March 23, 1971 at the owners meetings held in Palm Beach, Florida.

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys entered the season still having the reputation of "not being able to win the big games" and "next year's champion". The Super Bowl V loss added more fuel to that widely held view. As in the previous season, Dallas had a quarterback controversy as Staubach and Craig Morton alternated as starting quarterback (in a loss to the Bears in game 7, Morton and Staubach alternated plays).[3] The Cowboys were 4–3 at the season midpoint, including a 24–14 loss to the New Orleans Saints at Tulane Stadium. But after head coach Tom Landry settled on Staubach, the Cowboys won their last seven regular season games to finish with an 11–3 record.

Staubach finished the regular season as the NFL's top rated passer (101.8) by throwing for 1,882 yards, 15 touchdowns, and only 4 interceptions. He was also a terrific rusher, gaining 343 yards and 2 touchdowns on 41 carries. Dallas also had an outstanding trio of running backs, Walt Garrison, Duane Thomas, and Calvin Hill, who rushed for a combined total of 1,690 yards and 14 touchdowns during the season. Garrison led the team in receptions during the season (40). (Thomas, upset that the Cowboys would not renegotiate his contract after his excellent rookie year, had stopped talking to the press and to almost everyone on the team). Wide Receivers Bob Hayes and Lance Alworth also provided a deep threat, catching a combined total of 69 passes for 1,327 yards and 10 touchdowns. The offensive line, anchored by all-pro tackle Rayfield Wright, Pro Bowlers John Niland and Ralph Neely, and future hall of famer Forrest Gregg, was also a primary reason for their success on offense. Neely had broken his leg in November in a dirt-bike accident, and was replaced first by Gregg and then by Tony Liscio, who came out of retirement.

The Dallas defense (nicknamed the "Doomsday Defense") had given up only one touchdown in the last 14 quarters prior to the Super Bowl.[4] Their defensive line was anchored by Pro Bowl defensive tackle Bob Lilly, who excelled at pressuring quarterbacks and breaking up running plays. Dallas also had an outstanding trio of linebackers: Pro Bowler Chuck Howley, who recorded 5 interceptions and returned them for 122 yards; Dave Edwards 2 interceptions; and Lee Roy Jordan, who recorded 2 interceptions. The Cowboys secondary was led by 2 future hall of fame cornerbacks Herb Adderley (6 interceptions for 182 return yards) and Mel Renfro (4 interceptions for 11 yards). Safeties Cliff Harris and Pro Bowler Cornell Green also combined for 4 interceptions. They were also helped out by weak side linebacker D.D. Lewis.

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins were based primarily around their league-leading running attack, led by running backs Larry Csonka and Jim Kiick. Csonka rushed for 1,051 yards, averaging over five yards per carry, and scored seven touchdowns. Versatile Jim Kiick rushed for 738 yards and three touchdowns, and was second on the Dolphins in receiving with 40 receptions for 338 yards. They fumbled once (by Kiick) between the two of them during the regular season. But Miami also had a threatening passing game. Quarterback Bob Griese, the AFC's leading passer and most valuable player, put up an impressive performance during the season, completing 145 passes for 2,089 yards and 19 touchdowns with only 9 interceptions. Griese's major weapon was wide receiver Paul Warfield, who caught 43 passes for 996 yards (a 23.2 yards per catch average) and a league-leading 11 touchdowns. The Dolphins also had an excellent offensive line to open up holes for their running backs and protect Griese on pass plays, led by future Hall of Fame guard Larry Little.

Miami's defense was a major reason why the team built a 10–3–1 regular season record, including eight consecutive wins. Future Hall of Fame linebacker Nick Buoniconti was a major force reading and stopping plays, while safety Jake Scott recorded 7 interceptions.


Before this season, the Dolphins had never won a playoff game in franchise history, but they surprised the entire NFL by advancing to the Super Bowl with wins against the two previous Super Bowl champions.

First Miami defeated the Kansas City Chiefs (winners of Super Bowl IV), 27–24, in the longest game in NFL history with kicker Garo Yepremian's game-winning field goal after 22 minutes and 40 seconds of overtime play. Later, Miami shut out the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Colts, 21–0, in the AFC Championship Game, with safety Dick Anderson intercepting 3 passes from Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas and returning one of them for a 62-yard touchdown.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys marched to the Super Bowl with playoff wins over the Minnesota Vikings, 20–12 in the NFC Divisional Playoffs, and the San Francisco 49ers, 14–3 in the NFC Championship Game, only giving up one touchdown in the two games.

Super Bowl pregame news and notes

Soon after the Dolphins' win in the AFC Championship Game, Shula received a phone call at his home from President Richard M. Nixon at 1:30 in the morning. Nixon had a play he thought would work, a particular pass to Warfield. (That particular play, which was called late in the first quarter, was broken up by Mel Renfro.)

When asked about the Dolphins' defensive team prior to Super Bowl VI, Landry said that he could not recall any of the players' names, but they were a big concern to him. Over the years this remark has been regarded as the origin of the nickname "No-Name Defense". However, it was Miami defensive coordinator Bill Arnsparger who had originally given his squad the nickname after the Dolphins had beaten the Baltimore Colts in the AFC Championship.[5]

According to Tom Landry, the Cowboys were very confident. "When they talked among themselves they said there was no way they were going to lose that game."[6]

On Media Day, Duane Thomas refused to answer any questions and sat silently until his required time was up. Roger Staubach surmises that Duane Thomas would have been named MVP if he had cooperated with the press prior to the game.[3] In the Cowboys' locker room after the game, flustered CBS reporter Tom Brookshier asked Duane Thomas a long-winded question, the gist of which was "You're fast, aren't you?" Thomas, who had shunned the press all season, simply said "Evidently." Thomas became the first player to score touchdowns in back-to-back Super Bowls, having a receiving touchdown in Super Bowl V.

Dolphins safety Jake Scott entered Super Bowl VI with a broken left hand. He broke his right wrist during the game but never came out. With both hands in casts for three months, he said "When I go to the bathroom, that's when I find out who my real friends are."[7]

This game was originally scheduled to be the last to be played in Tulane Stadium. It was hoped the Louisiana Superdome would be ready in time for the 1972 NFL season. However, political wrangling led to a lengthy delay in construction, and groundbreaking did not take place until August 11, 1971, five months before this game. The Superdome was not completed until August 1975, forcing Super Bowl IX to be moved to Tulane Stadium. That Super Bowl proved to be the final NFL game in the stadium, which was demolished in late 1979.

The temperature at kickoff was a windy 39 degrees Fahrenheit, making this the coldest outdoor Super Bowl to date.

Television and entertainment

The game was broadcast in the United States by CBS with play-by-play announcer Ray Scott and color commentator Pat Summerall. Although Tulane Stadium was sold out for the game, unconditional blackout rules in the NFL prohibited the live telecast from being shown in the New Orleans area. This would be the last Super Bowl to be blacked out in the TV market in which the game was played. The following year, the NFL allowed Super Bowl VII to be televised live in the host city (Los Angeles) when all tickets were sold. In 1973, the NFL changed its blackout policy to allow any game to be broadcast in the home team's market if sold out 72 hours in advance.

The Tyler Junior College Apache Belles drill team performed during the pregame and halftime festivities. Later, the United States Air Force Academy Chorale sang the national anthem. This was followed by an eight-plane flyover which featured a plane in the missing man formation.

The halftime show was a "Salute to Louis Armstrong" featuring jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald, actress and singer Carol Channing, trumpeter Al Hirt and the U.S. Marine Corps Drill Team. Armstrong, a New Orleans native, died in July 1971.

Despite being the second Super Bowl after the AFL-NFL merger, Super Bowl VI was the first one to have the NFL logo painted at the 50-yard line. The NFL would do this for all but one Super Bowl after this until Super Bowl XXXI.

The night before the game, Joe Frazier successfully defended his heavyweight boxing championship with a fourth-round knockout of Terry Daniels at the Rivergate Convention Center, which was approximately one mile south of the construction site for the Superdome on Poydras Street.

Game summary

According to Roger Staubach,[3] the Cowboys' game plan was to neutralize the Dolphins' key offensive and defensive players—Paul Warfield and Nick Buoniconti. Warfield was double-teamed by Green and Renfro. "They pretty much shut him down," wrote Staubach. Since the running game was the key to the Cowboys' offense, they wanted to take the quick-reacting Buoniconti out of each play. Two linemen, usually Niland and center Dave Manders, were assigned to block Buoniconti. Combined with counterplays and the excellent cutback running of Thomas, this tactic proved very successful.

Miami's defense was designed to stop Staubach's scrambling. According to Staubach, although his scrambing was shut down this did not work to the Dolphins' benefit because it opened things up for the other backs.

Miami won the coin toss and elected to receive. Neither team could mount a drive on its first possession. On the first play of the Dolphins' second possession, Csonka, on his first carry of the game, gained 12 yards on a sweep aided by a big block by Larry Little on Herb Adderley. That would be his longest gain of the day. On the next play, Csonka fumbled a handoff from Griese–his first fumble of the season–and it was recovered by linebacker Chuck Howley at the Cowboys 48-yard line. Runs by Walt Garrison put Dallas within field goal range, but Staubach was sacked by Jim Riley and Bob Heinz for a 12-yard loss. However, Staubach found Bob Hayes open for a pass and then Staubach passed to Duane Thomas for first and goal.On third and goal, Dick Anderson made a great play to keep Duane Thomas out of the end zone. Dallas kicker Mike Clark kicked a 9-yard field goal to give the Cowboys a 3–0 lead.[8]

On the third play of the Dolphins' next possession at their own 38-yard line, Griese was sacked by Lilly for a Super Bowl record 29-yard loss (A picture of Griese being chased by Larry Cole, Bob Lilly and Jethro Pugh is the game's most famous photograph). Early in the second quarter, Miami drove to the Cowboys 42-yard line with the aid of a 20-yard reception by receiver Howard Twilley, but the drive stalled and ended with no points after kicker Garo Yepremian missed a 49-yard field goal attempt.

Later in the period, Dallas drove 76 yards in nine plays, including a 21-yard reception by Alworth and Calvin Hill's three carries for 25 yards, and then scored on a 7-yard touchdown pass from Staubach to Alworth to increase their lead, 10–0. Miami started the ensuing drive with just 1:15 left in the half, and quarterback Bob Griese completed three consecutive passes, two to receiver Paul Warfield and one to running back Jim Kiick, for 44 total yards to reach the Dallas 24-yard line. On the next play Griese threw to Warfield, who was open at the 2-yard line, but the ball was deflected by Green and bounced off Warfield's chest. Miami had to settle for Yepremian's 31-yard field goal to cut the Dolphins deficit to 10–3 going into halftime.

But Dallas dominated the second half, preventing any chance of a Miami comeback. Dallas reasoned that Miami would make adjustments to stop the Cowboys' inside running game which had been so successful in the first half. So the Cowboys decided to run outside. The Cowboys opened the third period with a 71-yard, 8-play drive, which included four runs by Thomas for 37 yards, a reverse by Hayes for 16 yards, and only one pass, scoring on Thomas' 3-yard sweep to make the score 17–3. This seemed to fire up the Dallas defense, who managed to prevent Miami from getting a single first down in the entire third quarter. The farthest advance Miami had in the third quarter was to its own 42-yard line as Griese and the offense were, said Shula, "destroyed."[6] On an incomplete pass, Jake Scott sacked Roger Staubach on a blitz that shook him up late in the third quarter, but Staubach returned in the fourth quarter. Miami did manage to advance to midfield early in the final period, but Howley ended the drive by intercepting a pass from Griese intended for Kiick in the flat. After returning the ball 41 yards, Howley tripped and fell at the Dolphins 9-yard line with nobody near him. But three plays later, Staubach threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to tight end Mike Ditka, increasing the Dallas lead to 24–3 with twelve minutes left in the game.

Miami began their next possession at their own 23-yard line and mounted only their third sustained drive of the game, reaching the Dallas 16-yard line in six plays. However, Griese fumbled the snap and the ball was recovered by Cowboys left end Larry Cole at the 20-yard line. The Cowboys then mounted an eleven-play drive to the Miami 1-yard line which featured just one pass and a fake field goal attempt on fourth-and-one at the Miami 20-yard line. However, on first-and-goal at the 1-yard line, Hill fumbled while attempting to dive across the goal line, and the ball was recovered at the 4-yard line by Dolphins defensive tackle Manny Fernandez with just under two minutes left. Miami then ran four meaningless plays to end the game.

Wrote Staubach, "I can say that I don't think I ever felt any better as an athlete than how I felt after that game..."[3] Nick Buoniconti wrote, "I was knocked senseless...The Cowboys seemed to be moving so much faster than we were....We were overmatched psychologically as well as physically."[9] Jim Kiick said, "Dallas wasn't that much better, but football is momentum. We lost it in the first quarter when we fumbled and they scored, and we never got it back."[10] Said the Dolphins' Howard Twilley:

It's so hard to figure. We went in confident. We really thought we'd win and win handily. Something happened, though, during the week. I guess it was that week. The week has its own momentum, like nothing we'd been in before...[Shula] said we'd been embarrassed. He said we didn't even compete....That's the sickest feeling I've ever had.[6]

Said Cornell Green, "The difference between the Dolphins and Cowboys was that the Dolphins were just happy to be in the game and the Cowboys came to win the game.".[9]

Griese completed the same amount of passes as Staubach (12), and threw for 15 more yards (134), but threw no touchdown passes and was intercepted once. Csonka and Kiick, were held to just 80 combined rushing yards (40 yards each), no touchdowns, and lost 1 fumble on 19 carries. Warfield was limited to just 4 receptions for 39 yards. Thomas was the top rusher of the game with 19 carries for 95 yards and a touchdown. He also caught 3 passes for 17 yards. Dallas running back Walt Garrison added 74 rushing yards and caught 2 passes for 11 yards.

The Dallas Cowboys became the first team to win the Super Bowl after losing it the previous year. The Miami Dolphins would duplicate this feat the following season by winning Super Bowl VII. This would be the only game the Dolphins would lose in 1972, going undefeated the next season prior to their Super Bowl VII win.

Box score

Scoring summary
Quarter Time Drive Team Scoring information Score
Plays Yards TOP Cowboys Dolphins
1 1:23 11 50 7:48 Cowboys 9-yard field goal by Mike Clark 3 0
2 1:15 10 76 5:00 Cowboys Lance Alworth 7-yard touchdown reception from Roger Staubach, Mike Clark kick good 10 0
2 0:04 4 44 1:11 Dolphins 31-yard field goal by Garo Yepremian 10 3
3 9:43 8 71 5:17 Cowboys Duane Thomas 3-yard touchdown run, Mike Clark kick good 17 3
4 11:42 3 9 0:53 Cowboys Mike Ditka 7-yard touchdown reception from Roger Staubach, Mike Clark kick good 24 3
"TOP" = time of possession. For other American football terms, see Glossary of American football. 24 3

Final statistics

Sources:The NFL's Official Encyclopedic History of Professional Football, (1973), p. 153, Macmillan Publishing Co. New York, NY, LCCN 73-3862, Super Bowl VI

Statistical comparison

Dallas Cowboys Miami Dolphins
First downs 23 10
First downs rushing 15 3
First downs passing 8 7
First downs penalty 0 0
Third down efficiency 7/14 2/9
Fourth down efficiency 1/1 0/0
Net yards rushing 252 80
Rushing attempts 48 20
Yards per rush 5.3 4.0
Passing – Completions/attempts 12/19 12/23
Times sacked-total yards 2–19 1–29
Interceptions thrown 0 1
Net yards passing 100 105
Total net yards 352 185
Punt returns-total yards 1--1 1-21
Kickoff returns-total yards 2-34 5-122
Interceptions-total return yards 1–41 0–0
Punts-average yardage 5–37.2 5–40.0
Fumbles-lost 1–1 2–2
Penalties-total yards 3–15 0–0
Time of possession 39:12 20:48
Turnovers 1 3

Individual leaders

Cowboys Passing
Roger Staubach 12/19 119 2 0
Cowboys Rushing
Car2 Yds TD LG3
Duane Thomas 19 95 1 23
Walt Garrison 14 74 0 17
Calvin Hill 7 25 0 13
Roger Staubach 5 18 0 5
Mike Ditka 1 17 0 17
Bob Hayes 1 16 0 16
Dan Reeves 1 7 0 7
Cowboys Receiving
Rec4 Yds TD LG3
Duane Thomas 3 17 0 11
Lance Alworth 2 28 1 21
Mike Ditka 2 28 1 21
Bob Hayes 2 23 0 18
Walt Garrison 2 11 0 7
Calvin Hill 1 12 0 12
Dolphins Passing
Bob Griese 12/23 134 0 1
Dolphins Rushing
Car2 Yds TD LG3
Larry Csonka 9 40 0 12
Jim Kiick 10 40 0 9
Bob Griese 1 0 0 0
Dolphins Receiving
Rec4 Yds TD LG3
Paul Warfield 4 39 0 23
Jim Kiick 3 21 0 11
Larry Csonka 2 18 0 16
Marv Fleming 1 27 0 27
Howard Twilley 1 20 0 20
Jim Mandich 1 9 0 9

1Completions/attempts 2Carries 3Long gain 4Receptions

Starting lineups

Miami Position Dallas
Paul Warfield WR Bob Hayes
Doug Crusan LT Tony Liscio
Bob Kuechenberg LG John Niland
Bob DeMarco C Dave Manders
Larry Little RG Blaine Nye
Norm Evans RT Rayfield Wright
Marv Fleming TE Mike Ditka
Howard Twilley WR Lance Alworth
Bob Griese QB Roger Staubach
Larry Csonka FB Walt Garrison
Jim Kiick RB Duane Thomas
Jim Riley LE Larry Cole
Manny Fernandez LDT Jethro Pugh
Bob Heinz RDT Bob Lilly
Bill Stanfill RE George Andrie
Doug Swift LOLB Dave Edwards
Nick Buoniconti MLB Lee Roy Jordan
Mike Kolen ROLB Chuck Howley
Tim Foley LCB Herb Adderley
Curtis Johnson RCB Mel Renfro
Dick Anderson SS Cornell Green
Jake Scott FS Cliff Harris


  • Referee: Jim Tunney #32
  • Umpire: Joe Connell #57
  • Head Linesman: Al Sabato #10
  • Line Judge: Art Holst #33
  • Field Judge: Bob Wortman #84
  • Back Judge: Ralph Vandenberg #47
  • Alternate Referee: Bernie Ulman #6
  • Alternate Umpire: Tony Sacco #18

Note: A seven-official system was not used until 1978


  1. ^ "Historical Super Bowl Nielsen TV Ratings, 1967–2009 – Ratings". TVbytheNumbers. Retrieved October 9, 2012. 
  2. ^ Staubach became the first quarterback of a winning team in the Super Bowl to play the entire game. Bart Starr was relieved by Zeke Bratkowski in the first two Super Bowls when the Packers had the game safely in hand; Joe Namath was relieved briefly by Babe Parilli in Super Bowl III; Len Dawson gave way to Mike Livingston late in Super Bowl IV when the Chiefs had clinched the game; Earl Morrall came in for an injured Johnny Unitas late in the first half of Super Bowl V and led the Baltimore Colts to a come-from-behind victory over the Cowboys.
  3. ^ a b c d Roger Staubach, "Super Bowl VI," Super Bowl: The Game of Their Lives, Danny Peary, editor. Macmillan, 1997. ISBN 0-02-860841-0
  4. ^
  5. ^ Underwood, John (January 10, 1972). "They Kept Coming and Coming". Sports Illustrated: 15–17. 
  6. ^ a b c Bill McGrane, "Winning the Big One," The Super Bowl: Celebrating a Quarter-Century of America's Greatest Game. Simon and Schuster, 1990 ISBN 0-671-72798-2
  7. ^ Dave Hyde, Still Perfect! The Untold Story of the 1972 Miami Dolphins, p115. Dolphins/Curtis Publishing, 2002 ISBN 0-9702677-1-1
  8. ^ Mike Clark's 9-yard field goal tied the New York Jets Jim Turner's 9-yard three-pointer in Super Bowl III for the shortest field goal in Super Bowl history. At the time, the goal posts were on goal lines instead of at the back of the end zones. Thus, this shared record will stand indefinitely unless the league decides to move the goal posts back to the goal lines.
  9. ^ a b Nick Buoniconti, "Super Bowl VII," Super Bowl: The Game of Their Lives, Danny Peary, editor. Macmillan, 1997. ISBN 0-02-860841-0
  10. ^ John Underwood, "The Blood and Thunder Boys," Sports Illustrated, August 7, 1972
  11. ^ This remains the lowest game-time temperature for a Super Bowl game to date.
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