Originally posted on deathrattlesports.com  |  Last updated 11/10/7
1972_don_shula
Every year when one or two teams make it through the mid-way point of the NFL season without a loss, they come out of the woodwork like roaches when the room gets dark. You know that it is going to happen, the first time I can remember it was in 1985 when the Bears went through their first 12 games and then actually came into Miami to face the Dolphins who had went to the Super Bowl the previous year and were playoff contenders again in 1985 and suffered their only loss. They came out the previous 2 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning stretching their streak in 2005 to 13 straight and then 9 straight in 2006, their super bowl season. To me it has reached a point where I believe that they actually sit around routing for a team to make it to 8-10 straight wins, so that talk will once again turn to these old dried up farts and once again give them their 10 additional minutes of fame. To the 1972 Dolphins, it does seem to be limited to only a few players, must prominent each season seems to be Nick Buoniconti, who was the leader of the famed "no name" defense. But now it seems this disease has affected their leader, the coach who has more NFL victories than any other coach Don Shula. What has it taken for Shula to come out this season; well of course it appears to be the biggest threat to their precious undefeated streak, the 2007 New England Patriots, who are now 8-0 after dispatching the previous undefeated 7-0 defending Super Bowl champions Indianapolis Colts this past Sunday. The Hall of Fame former Dolphins coach claimed to the New York Daily News that because the Pats were caught filming the New York Jets defensive signals from the sidelines in the season opener ? a violation of league rules ? that a 19-0 season would be marred and that an asterisk could be attached to it. "The Spygate thing has diminished what they've accomplished," Shula told the paper. "You would hate to have that attached to your accomplishments. They've got it." To me that is simply sour grapes on Shula's part. For one the "Spygate" incident happened during a game, the first game of the season and the NFL caught the Patriots before they could even look at the film. They were fined, both as a team and Belichick individually as well as the fact that the Patriots will loose draft choices because of it. I think part of Shula's bitterness stems from the fact that New England had a 21 game winning streak over the 2003/04 season that many claimed eclipsed the Dolphins streak, and of course Shula said that because it was over 2 seasons, it still didn't touch the 17-0. Which is something that really should be looked at, especially since this generation may think it is greater than what it actually was at the time, as many of us "old-timers" will remember. Now don't get me wrong, 17-0 is still 17-0 and going undefeated is still a great accomplishment, but lets not get totally carried away. For one thing the Dallas Cowboys had just spanked the Dolphins of 1972 the previous January by the tune of 24-3, to this day, making the Dolphins the only team that failed to score a touchdown in the Super Bowl. Then let us look at their schedule for that season. Their opponents had a combined winning percentage of .372, with only 4 of their opponents (Chiefs and Giants at 8-6, and the Vikings and Jets at 7-7) with a non-losing record. 6 of their 14 victims had 9 or more loses include the Houston Oilers at 1-13. So they were relatively untested when the playoffs came around. In the first round they played the Cleveland Browns, who were the 3rd lowest scoring team in the AFC that season, then met the Pittsburg Steelers, who had just had their first winning season in their history to get to the Super Bowl, where they faced the "geriatric Washington Redskins of George Allen and won the lowest scoring Super Bowl of all time by a score of 14-7. So far this season the Patriots at 8-0 have played 6 teams with a record of .500 or better. Their current opponents winning percentage stands at .478 (35-38) only 3 games below .500, which includes the winless (0-8) Dolphins. Now compare that to the 1972 Dolphins, whose opponents were a combined 35 games below .500 at .372 (51-86). Still left on the Pat's schedule are the Steelers and Giants (6-2), as well as the Bills and Ravens at .500, so to me the nod to the strength of schedule goes to the Patriots on that one. So if a team deserves an "asterisk", maybe it is Shula's Dolphins for their strength of schedule, or lack thereof. In closing the bottom line is that more than likely the Patriots will not go undefeated this season, there is way too much "Pete Rozelle" parity, that on any given "Sunday" any NFL team can win, that was not the case back in 1972.
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