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NFL playoffs, 1971-72


NFL playoffs, 1971-72

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 34OT2OTTotal
Dolphins 0 10 770327
Chiefs 10 0 770024

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 opened up the scoring with Jan Stenerud's 24-yard field goal. Then Chiefs defensive back Willie Lanier intercepted a pass from Bob Griese and returned it 17 yards to set up Len Dawson's 7-yard touchdown pass to Ed Podolak, increasing the lead to 10-0. However, Griese rallied the Dolphins back on their next drive, completing a 23-yard pass to Paul Warfield and a 16-yarder to tight end Marv Fleming on the way to Larry Csonka's 1-yard touchdown run. Shortly before halftime, the Dolphins defense recovered a fumble from Podolak deep in Chiefs territory, enabling Garo Yepremian to kick a 14-yard field goal to tie the game.

Kansas City retook the lead in the third quarter, on a 15-play, 75-yard drive that took 10 minutes off the clock and ended with Jim Otis' 1-yard score. Miami responded quickly though, storming right back to tie the game with a 1-yard touchdown run from Jim Kiick.

In the fourth quarter, Dolphins linebacker Nick Buoniconti recovered a fumble to give his team a big scoring opportunity. But Kansas City took the ball right back when safety Jim Lynch intercepted Griese's pass on the Chiefs 9-yard line. Kansas City then stormed 91 yards, including a 63-yard completion from Dawson to rookie receiver Elmo Wright to retake the lead, 24-17, with Podolak's 3-yard touchdown run. Miami struck right back as Griese completed passes to Warfield for gains of 17 and 26 yards before finishing the 71-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Flemming, tying the game at 24 with 1:25 left in regulation. 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, and Podolak returned it to the 46-yard line. Kansas City then drove into scoring range, 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 overtime period set up Yepremian's game-winning score.[2]

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 [2]

NFC: Dallas Cowboys 20, Minnesota Vikings 12

Game summary
1 2 34Total
Cowboys 3 3 14020
Vikings 0 3 0912

at Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, Minnesota

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 34Total
Colts 0 14 3320
Browns 0 0 303

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 34Total
Redskins 7 3 3720
49ers 0 3 14724

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 34Total
Colts 0 0 000
Dolphins 7 0 7721

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 34Total
49ers 0 0 303
Cowboys 0 7 0714

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

  • NFC championship game

Super Bowl VI: Dallas Cowboys 24, Miami Dolphins 3

Further information: Super Bowl VI
Game summary
1 2 34Total
Cowboys (NFC) 3 7 7724
Dolphins (AFC) 0 3 003

at Tulane Stadium, New Orleans, Louisiana



External links

  • Article from Sportslifer's Worldpress blog

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