That 1971 dinner had a late kick
Thirty-five years ago today, the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs delayed, interrupted and/or ruined Christmas dinners across the country by taking their AFC divisional playoff game into one overtime period ... and then a second, eventually setting the record for the longest NFL game.
On Christmas Day 1971, the Dolphins and Chiefs played 82 minutes and 40 seconds before Garo Yepremian converted a 37-yard field-goal attempt to give Miami a 27-24 victory.
The game featured one of the league’s memorable all-purpose performances as the Chiefs’ Ed Podolak rushed for 85 yards, caught eight passes for 110 yards, returned three kickoffs for 153 yards and scored two touchdowns.
Christmas turkeys went cold or uneaten as the back-and-forth game lurched into overtime, prompted by an unlikely goat. Kansas City’s Hall of Fame kicker Jan Stenerud missed two field-goal attempts, including the potential game-winner with 35 seconds left in regulation, and had another blocked during overtime.
What do Nellie Fox, Ken Stabler, Larry Csonka and Rickey Henderson have in common?
Another Christmas Day, and the Cowboys and Dolphins are at it again ...
Philadelphia over Dallas: Given the choice between rooting for Jeff Garcia or Terrell Owens, the country gives the Eagles a one-day pass as “America’s Team.” New York Jets over Miami: Census officials say that 300 million people now live in the United States. And last Sunday, every one of them had the same passer rating as Joey Harrington: 0.0.
On Christmas Day 1984, Bernard King scored 60 points in a game for the New York Knicks. Foreshadowing the state of the franchise two decades later, the Knicks lost the game to New Jersey, 120-114.
On Christmas Day 1956, Fort Wayne’s Corky Devlin tied an NBA record by missing all 15 of his field-goal attempts in a game against the Minneapolis Lakers. Fifty years later, teams throughout the NBA’s Eastern Conference continue to draw inspiration from his performance.
Hall of Fame Game
How great was the NFL’s longest game?
A total of 14 eventual Hall of Famers are connected with the game.
The Dolphins had six Hall of Fame players on the field -- linebacker Nick Buoniconti, running back Csonka, quarterback Bob Griese, center Jim Langer, guard Larry Little, wide receiver Paul Warfield -- and Hall of Fame coach Don Shula on the sideline.
The Chiefs were represented by seven Hall of Famers -- linebackers Bobby Bell and Willie Lanier, defensive tackle Buck Buchanan, quarterback Len Dawson, Stenerud, coach Hank Stram and owner Lamar Hunt.
Once in a lifetime
Only two NFL playoff games have been held on Christmas -- both coming on the same day, Dec. 25, 1971.
In an NFC divisional playoff game played the same afternoon as Miami-Kansas City, the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Minnesota Vikings, 20-12. The Vikings outgained the Cowboys, 311 yards to 183, but Dallas won by converting turnovers into 13 points.
The Cowboys and the Dolphins went on to play in Super Bowl VI, with Dallas prevailing, 24-3.
They were born on Christmas Day -- Fox in 1927, Stabler in 1945, Csonka in 1946 and Henderson in 1958.
And in keeping with the spirit of the day, Briefing recalls how Henderson once assessed a round of contract negotiations: “All I’m asking for is what I want.”