My Next Replay – 1973

I would like to invite you to follow along as I embark on the 182-game regular season and post-season of the 1973 NFL season. The 1973 season really stood out for key draft pick contributions, trades, Miami Dolphins and of course, O.J. Simpson.

Several key first round draft picks really made an instant impact for their teams. In Chicago, Wally Chambers was a key piece in re-creating their defense in the post Dick Butkus era. Chuck Foreman’s breakaway capability really took the pressure off “Tarkenton to Gilliam” and was a major factor in them reaching the Super Bowl. In Cincinnati, a pair of super rookies (Isaac Curtis and Boobie Clark) propelled the Bengals past the Steelers and the Browns in a tight divisional race. Charles Young, when he wasn’t destroying linebackers with his blocking, caught 55 passes with six touchdowns to become an All-Pro for the Philadelphia Eagles. The Raiders broke the norm by drafting a punter in the first round named Ray Guy. In Dallas, third-round selection, Harvey Martin, was a major contributor to the “Doomsday Defense”.

The San Diego Chargers paid the Baltimore Colts a six-figure check to acquire the rights of 40-year old, Johnny Unitas. With Unitas around, John Hadl became expendable and Carroll Rosenbloom’s Los Angeles Rams took him off their hands. Roman Gabriel objected to Hadl’s presence, so the Rams traded him to the Philadelphia Eagles for two No. 1 draft choices, a third-round pick, wide receiver Harold Jackson and fullback Tony Baker. Hadl turned the NFC inside out, leading the Rams to the playoffs with a 12-2-0 record. Hadl and Jackson became the most feared touchdown combination. Meanwhile, Roman Gabriel shook off his arm miseries and the Eagles offense flourished. He was the only quarterback to throw for over 3,000 yards (3219) and he fired 23 touchdown passes. His top receiver was 6-foot-8 veteran, Harold Carmichael, who led the NFL in receptions with 67.

The Miami Dolphins reached their third consecutive Super Bowl, won their second straight World Championship to forge a great dynasty that absolutely outclassed the other 25 teams in the NFL.  I always felt that this Miami squad was even better than the undefeated version from 1972. For the third consecutive year the Super Bowl was a yawn. There were few exciting plays and Miami entered halftime with a 17 – 0 lead. Larry Csonka carried the ball 33 times for 145 yards and was the game’s Most Valuable Player. Bob Griese threw only seven times all day, completing six.

 What happened in pro football, 1973, was O.J. Simpson. In the season opener against New England, O.J. set an All-Time NFL record for most yards in a single game with 250. By game four, he ripped Philadelphia for 171 yards to reach 647. At the mid-season point in a Monday Night game against the Chiefs, he ran for 157 yards to become the first man to eclipse 1,000 yards in seven games. In week 13 at Rich Stadium, the snow was blowing off Lake Erie but O.J. skated through the Patriots for 219 yards. In the season finale at Shea Stadium which was another winter wonderland, the Juice broke Jim Browns single-season rushing record in the first quarter. The Bills offensive line went to work for 2,000 and by game’s end, he made it with three yards to spare. With two minutes to play, the fans were treated to another rare sight, a professional player being carried off the field on the shoulders of his teammates.

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