Miami Dolphins at 50: Top 10 Games

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No. 4 – 1971 AFC Divisional Round: Miami Dolphins at Kansas City Chiefs; Dec. 25, 1971

The longest game in NFL history took place on Christmas Day between the Miami Dolphins and the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs were seeking their third Super Bowl appearance in six years while the game marked Miami’s second playoff appearance ever.

Kansas City opened the scoring with a timely, run-first drive capped off by a 24-yard Jan Stenerud field goal with 8:54 left in the first quarter.

With the Dolphins focused on double teaming Chiefs wide receiver Otis Taylor, there was plenty of room for Kansas City to use other weapons. The most deadly during this game was running back Ed Podolak.

Podolak would rush for 85 yards on 17 carries while catching eight passes for 110 with both a rushing and receiving touchdown.

His seven yard touchdown reception made it 10-0 Chiefs at the end of the first quarter.

The Chiefs stifled the Miami backfield which forced coach Don Shula to make some adjustments. This resulted in the Dolphins going to a pass first offense with an injured Bob Griese.

Griese suffered a left shoulder injury in Week 11 against the Chicago Bears and if it had been his right shoulder, he would have missed the game. But Shula had little options left.

Griese and wide receiver Paul Warfield would do a lot of damage together in the game.

A big pass play from Griese and Warfield set up a one yard Larry Csonka touchdown to cut the Chiefs lead to 10-7 with a little over 12 minutes to go in the half.

The next Kansas City drive saw the team in field goal position, but the kick was missed by Stenerud. A rare feat in itself.

Apparently, there was some confusion amongst the long snapper, placeholder and kicker if the team was going to fake the attempt.

The Chiefs made another costly mistake as Podolak fumbled the ball deep in their own territory. The Dolphins recovered and tied the score with a Garo Yepremian field as the half closed.

Kansas City held onto the football for over 10 minutes as they retook the lead with a one-yard Jim Otis score leaving only 5:36 left in the third.

Limited by injury and the tight Chiefs defense, Griese utilized a short pass attack to guide Miami down the field. The Dolphins tied the game at 17 with another one yard score, this time by Jim Kiick at the end of the quarter.

Early in the fourth quarter, Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson found wide receiver Elmo Wright for a huge completion that put Kansas City at the Miami three. Podolak finished the drive with a three yard score with 6:46 left. Griese and the Dolphins needed a response.

Griese and Warfield answered the call as the Dolphins drove down the field. The Miami quarterback would find Warfield covered in the endzone so instead looked to the tight end blocking specialist, Wayne Fleming, for the tying score.

However, on the ensuing kickoff, Podolak put Kansas City back into scoring position in a matter of seconds. A sure touchdown was saved by Yepremian forcing the Chiefs running back to the sideline. He was eventually pushed out-of-bounds by Curtis Johnson.

This left the Pro Bowl kicker, Stenerud, to finish off the game, but he missed the kick wide right. Stenerud almost never missed and now he had done so twice.

The game went into overtime at 24-24.

In the extra frame, both teams missed field goal opportunities. With neither clubs being able to score, they would need a second overtime period.

The beginning of the end came with a big run by Csonka, one of the few he saw all day. Csonka’s run put the Dolphins in field goal range.

Yepremian finished off the game with a 37-yard field goal. Miami won 27-24 in a game that is still to this day the longest in league history.

Griese threw for 246 yards and one touchdown, Warfield put together 140 receiving yards on seven receptions, and Csonka ran for 86 yards on 24 attempts.

The win by Miami helped to create bring about a golden age of Miami Dolphins football, but more on that a little later.