Despite missing the playoffs for the first time since 1969 Miami still accomplished a lot in this season of injuries and defections. Losing Hall of Fame players Larry Csonka and Paul Warfield and running back Jim Kiick prior to the season to the upstart World Football League which ended up folding by the end of summer in 1975. In addition to losing starting quarterback Bob Griese during the season and defensive stalwarts Manny Fernandez, Dick ANderson, Bob Heinz, Bill Stanfill, and Nick Bouniconti they still managed ten wins. Any other year this probably would’ve still resulted in a playoff berth unfortunately the upstart Baltimore Colts beat them twice and won the tie breaker. Here is a look back at three of the ten Miami wins from 1975.
September 28, 1975 Miami 22 New England 14 at Schaefer Stadium. Foxboro, MA: New England led 14-0 at halftime after backup quarterback Neil Graff was subbing for an injured Jim Plunkett threw two first half touchdown passes. The frist one was to Randy Vataha on a 31 yard pass and the second came when he hit Russ Francis on a 5 yard scoring pass for the only Patriots scores. In the second half Miami got going when Don Nottingham rumbled 40 yards setting up a Garo Yepremian field goal of 26 yards. Freddie Solomon of the Dolphins returned a Patriots punt back 46 yards to setup a Miami touchdown. Nottingham a couple of plays later ran it in from the five making it 14-9 as the extra point was missed. Jake Scott of Miami picked off a Graff pass at the Patriots 17 setup the next Dolphins touchdown. Norm Bulaich would take this in from the one giving Miami a lead they never relinquished early in the fourth quarter. Two Yepremian field goals in the fourth quarter of 26 and 33 yards gave Miami an additional cushion. The Miami defense picked off Graff three times and recovered a Patriots fumble as well in the victory.
October 26, 1975 Miami 35 Buffalo 30 Rich Stadium, Orchard Park, NY: On the third play of the game Buffalo Safety Steve Freeman intercepted a Bob Griese pass and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown. Later in the first quarter O.J. Simpson ran 26 yards for a touchdown giving the Bills a 13-0 lead after one quarter, In the second quarter Miami began to battle back when Don Nottingham scored the first of his three touchdowns on the day this time from a yard out cutting the deficit to 13-7. Joe Ferguson would retaliate with a four yard scoring pass to Bob Chandler and kicker John Leypoldt would a 45 yard field goal before halftime. The other Miami score in the second quarter came when Griese hit Nat Moore from 13 yards out making it 23-14 Bills at the half. In the third quarter Nottingham scored from a yard out on his second touchdown of the day bring the Dolphins within two. In the fourth quarter Ferguson hit Chandler again this time from 5 yards out putting Buffalo back up by nine. Miami closed within two again when Griese hit Jim Mandich from five yards out cutting the Bills lead down to two at 30-28. Then the wheels came off the car for the Bills when Ferguson threw an interception to Jake Scott at the Buffalo 22 yard line. Five plays later Nottingham scored from a yard out giving Miami the lead for good. The Bills made one last ditch effort to win the game but Scott intercepted Ferguson again in Miami territory to clinch the game for the Dolphins.
December 20, 1975 Miami 14 Denver 13 Orange Bowl, Miami, Fl: On the final weekend of the season in 1975 Miami only had slim hopes to make the playoffs. They needed the disappointing Patriots to upset the first place Colts to have a chance of making the playoffs. Denver which had a disappointing season as well led 10-0 at halftime thanks to a Jim Turner 39 yard field goal and a fumble recovery in the end zone by RIley Odoms. Odoms recovered a fumble by Broncos running back Fran Lynch to give Denver the advantage.Veteran Earl Morrall came off the bench replacing starter Don Strock in the third quarter. Morrall who had been injured a few weeks earlier rallied the Dolphins with two second half touchdowns. In the third quarter he hit original Dolphin Howard Twilley with a ten yard scoring pass making it 10-7 after three quarters. After a Turner field goal of 39 yards in fourth quarter increasing the Denver lead to 13-7 Miami rallied. Bob Swenson’s fifteen yard penalty and a Morrall to Freddie Solomon 38 yard pass play set up the winning score. Veteran running back ran it from the one for the tying score and Garo Yepremian kicked the go ahead extra point. Reserve safety Barry Hill blocked a Turner 35 yard field goal attempt on the final play of the game keeping Miami’s playoff hopes alive for one more day.
However the next day Baltimore beat New England and Cincinnati sent San Diego out of its misery to end the playoff hopes for Miami. This was a look back at the three best games of 1975 for Miami.
1975 Miami Dolphins John Schaefer
1975 Miami Dolphins www.profootballreference.com
Wikipedia 1975 Miami Dolphins