Iconic Miami Herald sports columnist Edwin Pope, who died January 19, covered the first 47 Super Bowls. This column from Super Bowl VIII, in which Larry Csonka scored twice to lead the Miami Dolphins to a second consecutive title, originally ran on Jan. 14, 1974.
HOUSTON — Call it Grants' Tomb. Re-title it Shula's Shrine.
Or Csonka's Causeway.
Or let 'em keep the name Rice Stadium. No matter. Henceforth this fog-bound battleground will be known as the one where the Dolphins settled themselves by any reasonable measure as football's all-time kings.
Never miss a local story.
Forget Super Bowl VIII's final score of Miami 24, Minnesota 7. It was no more a reflection of Dolphin superiority than that 14-7 victory over Washington in Super Bowl VII indicated the one-sidedness there.
Do remember that both Washington then and Minnesota now were and are excellent football clubs. And that the Dolphins did much more than win by 17 this soggy Sunday.
It was murder. It made the St. valentine's Day Massacre look like a draw.
Minnesota Coach Bud Grant's early week discomfiture at finding sparrows in his dressing room showers faded into utter horror at the aqua-and-orange vultures picking the bones of his proud athletes.
And the world finally learned why Don Shula had been grinning all week. He knew what he had. Now everybody knows what he's got, which is something nobody had before, the Kohinoor Diamond of football teams.
The Dolphins buried once and for all the myth that other teams have better material. That Miami wins on unity rather than speed or muscle.
It was all together Sunday. If any of the 24 pro clubs not represented here can outrun or outbruise or outthink the Dolphins, the Vikings give thanks they were not playing them.
Jim Langer and Bob Kuechenberg and Larry Little and Wayne Moore and Norm Evans picked up the fabled Front Four from the Northland and shook them like a gang of King Kongs dangling a cluster of screaming Fay Wrays from the Empire State Building.
Scorning audible check-offs at the line of scrimmage, Bob Griese aimed Larry Csonka through the debris and Csonka flung it aside like confetti in his Super Bowl record (145 yards) running show.
Between Shula winning his second Super Bowl in four starts and Csonka truck-trailering up and down the Astro-Turf, the Hungarian press missed a great bet. Newsmen were here form such distant spots as Egypt and Hong Kong and Norway and Romania and even the Ivory Coast. Alas, the Hungarian forebears of Shula and Csonka will have to read of The Great Goring in English.
When it's 24-7 on the score board and more than that in the punching pits, you must hang some jewels on the defense. Miami's speciously described No-Name defense pounded Minnesota's runners into such terror that the Vikings did not get a first down rushing for an astounding 44 minutes and 17 seconds.
Bill Stanfill and Vern Den Herder came up fast on the outside and Manny Fernandez blocked the middle lanes. Where else can a runner go? Your TV set answered that: Nowhere. Or crazy. Dolphin defenders forced Fran Tarkenton to waste time throwing short because he couldn't throw long when it meant anything.
They put him in the classic position of impossibility: Down 24-0 where he could not hope to win by running, and with no chance to do anything but make it worse by throwing deep into the Dolphin's secondary spider web. The line made Tarkenton get rid of the ball quickly, which he does not like to do. That meant dumping it off to tight ends and backs, and Miami's linebackers and cornerbacks cut them off quickly.
Grant is a gracious coach who is not without wit. He had the perfect answer when asked what he would do differently if he had to do it all over again. Grant said he wouldn't show up.
He could not have known that he would meet the perfect blend of textbook football. Shula wrote it. His players recited it. Between them, they have the highest mark in football history.