11/08/2011 08:14 PM
Dolphins Home Favorites Over Washington Redskins
Miami is a 3½-point favorite at home this Sunday against the Redskins.
There was a time when a Redskins-Dolphins matchup stopped the American sports public in its tracks.
By comparison, this weekend’s renewal in Sun Life Stadium might not even slow traffic on the nearby Florida’s Turnpike.
Washington (3-5 straight up and against the spread) and Miami (1-7 SU, 3-5 ATS) recall some long-ago hostilities on Sunday when clashing on the Dade and Broward County lines. The Don Best odds screen notes that the Dolphins have been posted as early 3½-point favorites at the majority of Las Vegas sports books, with the total solidly on 37½. Kickoff will be at 1:00 p.m. (ET), with FOX TV providing the coverage.
Mention of the Redskins and Dolphins, however, will always recall their memorable confrontation on January 14, 1973, in Super Bowl VII at the Los Angeles Coliseum. It was the final installment of the Dolphins’ perfect 17-0 season, yet they were surprisingly listed a 2-point underdogs for the contest.
Super Bowl VII was noteworthy in another aspect in that the NFL decided to lift the local TV blackout for the game less than a week before the contest was to kick off. Remember, games were blacked out in those days within a 75-mile radius of the host city. Major market Los Angeles, which was blacked out of the first Super Bowl six years earlier (as had Miami and New Orleans in subsequent title games), was expected to follow suit for Super Bowl VII until the league and NBC decided to lift the blackout.
It’s hard for modern-day fans to believe how much of a hot potato the TV blackout rule was. Even the U.S. Congress, citing no decrease in the live gate for Super Bowl VII, would eventually get involved in the debate, helping to force the NFL to relax its home-city blackout rule. Subsequent to Redskins-Dolphins, the NFL modified its stance on home-city TV blackout rules, imposing a 72-hour cutoff; if a game had been sold out by that point, it could be televised locally.
Thus, the seeds for that TV policy, still in place today, were planted at the Washington-Miami Super Bowl VII. A little-known extra info nugget about the history of matshups between the 'Skins and Fins.
We have always believed that the actual Super Bowl VII contest has been overrated by gridiron historians, however. The fact it was the final installment of the "perfect" season for Don Shula’s Dolphins probably has something to do with the contest rating more highly in all-time SB rankings than it probably deserves.
In truth, Super Bowl VII was mostly a bore, with Miami taking charge in the first half as it moved easily to a 14-0 lead. The only bit of drama came deep in the fourth quarter, when the Dolphins’ Garo Yepremian was attempting a 42-yard field goal with just over two minutes to play that would have given Miami an insurmountable 17-0 lead.
But in one of the more-famous clips from future NFL Football Follies, the kick was blocked and bounced to Yepremian, who first tried unsuccessfully to pass the ball, then instead knocked the ball into the air, from where Washington DB Mike Bass plucked it and ran 49 yards for Redskins’ only score of the day.
George Allen’s Washington, now down only 14-7, got the ball back in the last minute, but like most of the afternoon, could do nothing against Shula’s "No-Name" defense. In the end, the 14-7 scoreline could have flattered the 'Skins. For the day, both teams combined to gain fewer than 500 yards of offense, and Washington never came close to scoring until Bass’ late capitalization on the Yepremian flub-up.
We doubt anyone is going to recall this week’s Redskins-Dolphins renewal 39 hours, much less 39 years, after its conclusion. Although Washington enters the game with three wins compared to Miami’s one, an argument can be made that the 'Skins might be playing worse at the moment than any team in the NFL.
Blame injuries partly for the current malaise in D.C. that has seen Mike Shanahan’s team lose and fail to cover its last four games. Moreover, the 'Skins are not coming close lately, losing by 13 ppg in the slump and scoring only 11 ppg that span. Two of the four TDs scored in the skid have also come in the very late stages of the games against the Eagles and 49ers.
The slump has coincided with a succession of key injuries, in particular to top rusher Tim Hightower and top receiver Santana Moss, who remain sidelined. Not to mention ongoing struggles at QB, which the D.C. press corps had predicted from the summer, when Shanahan opted to let Donovan McNabb walk and instead entrust the unconvincing Rex Grossman and John Beck with those duties.
NFC East insiders suggested a gross miscalculation was committed by Shanahan, who is now paying for a gamble gone bad. Grossman eventually imploded in the October 16 loss to the Eagles, tossing four picks. Beck has not been much better since assuming the starting role the following week against the Panthers, an eventual 33-20 Washington loss.
Indeed, Beck, who began his NFL career with the Dolphins, has not started for a winning team since his college days at BYU.
Fortunately for the Redskins, they are facing what appears to be a beatable foe in the host Dolphins, who scored their first win of the season last week at Kansas City. Although Miami had been coming close to success in preceding weeks, losing in overtime vs. Denver and in the last minutes against the Giants.
Keying the mild uptick has been improvement in the offense, in particular RB Reggie Bush. Perhaps motivated by the knowledge that former flame Kim Kardashian is back on the singles market, Bush has produced his best games in a Miami uniform the past two weeks, rushing for a combined 195 yards vs. Denver and the Giants. Dolphins QB Matt Moore, who replaced injured Chad Henne last month, is also off of his best game, passing for 244 yards and three TDs at Arrowhead.
Before getting carried away, however, Dolphins backers must acknowledge recent underachievement by their favorite team at Sun Life Stadium, where the frontrunning South Florida fans offer only lukewarm support in the best of times, and various transplants always provide more throaty support for the visitors than is heard at other NFL stadiums. Miami has dropped its last seven spread decisions at home and 19 of 24 as host since early in the 2008 season, part of a curious trend under HC Tony Sparano in which the Dolphins have provided mostly-good spread value on the road, and poor value at home.
As for Sparano, his long-term job prospects hardly improved with the win at Kansas City. Indeed, even in success he seems to have angered Dolphins fans who are hoping their team finishes poorly enough to have a chance at the top pick in next April’s NFL Draft, almost assuredly to be Stanford QB Andrew Luck.
Poor Sparano can’t even win for winning these days.
Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs: