FanPost

Historical Perspective XII - 1979

 1979

After returning to the Playoffs the previous season, Miami looked to improve their Regular Season and Post Season finishes.  The team wanted the AFC East crown, after settling for the Wildcard position due to tie-breakers, in 1978.  And, a deep run in the playoffs was a real objective.  The Dolphins wanted a return to the dominance they had early in the decade.

Miami would be active leading up to the 1979 Draft, making two trades prior to the annual selection meeting.  The first of these trades, on March 22nd, send the 3rd round pick the team obtained the previous year from the Washington Redskins in the mid-season Benny Malone trade to the Oakland Raiders for Safety Neal Colzie.  The other pre-draft trade took place on April 18th, when the team gave up another 3rd round choice, this time sending it to Atlanta for linebacker Ralph Ortega.

The 1979 NFL Draft took place on May 3-4.  The draft would be highlighted by the selection of three future Hall of Famers: Defensive Tackle Dan Hampton (4th overall to the Bears), Tight End Kellen Winslow (13th overall to the Chargers), and Quarterback Joe Montana (82nd overall to the 49ers).  While not selecting any Hall of Famers, the Dolphins did select multiple starters and depth players, with 10 of their 16 selections appearing on the franchise's active roster at some point in their career.

Rnd

Overall Pick

Name

Position

School

Games Played

Season Starter

All Pro 1st Team

Pro Bowl

HOF

Remarks

1

24

John Giesler

T

Michigan

126

9

0

0

No

 

2

53

Jeff Toews

G

Washington

71

0

0

0

No

 

3a

61

Tony Nathan

RB

Alabama

123

5

1

0

No

From Tampa Bay for Randy Crowder (FA Compensation) (8/21/78)

3b

63

Mel Land

LB

Michigan State

19

0

0

0

No

From NY Giants for RB Larry Csonka (04/06/76)

3c

65

Ronnie Lee

T

Baylor

186

8

0

0

No

From New Orleans for Don Reese (FA Compensation) (8/22/78)

3d

79

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Atlanta for Ralph Ortega (4/18/79)

Drafted RB William Andrews

4

107

Steve Howell

FB

Baylor

42

1

0

0

No

 

5

134

Don Bessillieu

S

Georgia Tech

59

1

0

0

No

 

6

162

Steve Lindquist

G

Nebraska

0

0

0

0

No

 

7

189

Uwe von Schamann

K

Oklahoma

89

6

0

0

No

 

8a

206

Jeff Groth

WR

Bowling Green

94

4

0

0

No

From Washington for Jim Mandich (5/11/78)

8b

215

Glenn Blackwood

S

Texas

118

8

0

0

No

From Denver for Jim Kiick (4/8/76)

8c

217

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Tampa Bay for Council Rudolph (7/5/78)

 

Drafted OL Eugene Sanders

9

244

Jeff Weston

T

Notre Dame

37

0

0

0

No

 

10a

258

Jerome Stanton

CB

Michigan State

0

0

0

0

No

From Detroit for Karl Baldischwiler (8/28/78)

10b

272

Mike Kozlowski

S

Colorado

91

0

0

0

No

 

11

299

Mike Blanton

DE

Georgia Tech

0

0

0

0

No

 

12

327

Larry Fortner

QB

Miami

0

0

0

0

No

 

Bold Players appeared on the Miami active roster during their career.

 Tony_nathan4_medium

Dolphins third round draft pick, Running Back Tony Nathan via gc009.k12.sd.us .

Following the draft, the Dolphins settled in to their pre-season routine.  This included two August trades.  The first of these trades sent cornerback Charles Cornelius to the 49ers for their 1980 11st round pick on August 21st.  The Second trade, six days later, sent fullback Leroy Harris to Philadelphia for a 5th round 1981 selection.

However, none of the draft choices, nor the trades, amounted to the most important offseason move the franchise made.  After one year in the UFL and three-years playing for the Giants, the Dolphins welcomed home the franchise's all time leading rusher, FB Larry Csonka.

 Csonka_920_medium_medium

Dolphins Full Back Larry Csonka via www.insideflorida.com

The NFL season began for the Dolphins on September 2, 1979 with a trip to Buffalo.  In a low scoring game, the Dolphins trailed 7-0 at the half, after the Bills' Charles Romes returned a blocked field goal 76-yards for the score.  In the second half, Miami finally got on the board when rookie kicker Uwe von Schamann hit from 34-yards out, cutting the deficit to four.  Miami then found the endzone, when Csonka punched the ball in from one-yard out.  Although von Schamann would miss on the extra point, the Dolphins would hold on to win 9-7, led by the running tandem of Csonka (16 carries for 87 yards and the score) and Delvin Williams (17 attempts for 52 yards). 

 Uwevonschamannlg_medium

Dolphins rookie kicker Uwe von Schamann via www.themiamisooners.com

Week 2 of the 1979 season saw Miami host the Seattle Seahawks.  After a scoreless first period, the Dolphins opened up the game with a3-yard pass from Quarterback Bob Griese to Wide Receiver Nat Moore; however, as was the case the previous week, the Dolphins missed on the extra point.  The Seahawks answered the Dolphins touchdown with a 32-yard field goal, only to see the Dolphins respond with a 36-yarder of their own, leading to a 9-3 Dolphins advantage at the half.  The Seahawks took the lead in the third quarter on a Jim Zorn 23-yard touchdown pass to Steve Raible.  Miami, answered however with the final 10-points of the game, with von Schamann connecting on a 31-yard field goal in the third and Norm Bulaich catching a 7-yard touchdown from Griese in the fourth.  Seattle departed Miami having lost to the Dolphins 19-10.

On September 16th, Miami traveled to Minnesota to face the Vikings.  Rick Danmeier, the Vikings' kicker, scored the first points of the game, when he kicked three field goals in the first two periods, before Miami scored on a Delvin Williams 3-yard run.  Trailing 9-7 at the intermission, Miami looked to rebound.  However, the Vikings would increase their lead when Danmeier connected again in the third quarter.  The Dolphins, however, would dominate the fourth quarter, scoring on two Don Strock 6-yard touchdown passes, one to Csonka and one to Jimmy Cefalo, along with a 5-yard rush from Bulaich.  The Dolphins left Minnesota with the 27-12 victory.

Miami's Week 4 hosting of the Chicago Bears would again see the Dolphins trailing at the half.  In a field goal filled first two periods, von Schamann connected once, while the Bears' Bob Thomas hit twice.  However, the Dolphins would find the endzone in the third quarter, on a 3-yard Williams run, as well as a 12-yard Csonka rush.  The Bears tightened the score late in the third, with another field goal.  The Dolphins opened the 4th period with a 17-9 lead, and immediately increased it with a 9-yard touchdown run from Csonka, followed by an additional 1-yard touchdown from him.  The Bears finally put six points on the board when running back Willie McClendon scored from one yard out, but it was too little, too late.  With 193-yards total rushing, 137 of which were Csonka and Williams, Miami scored their fourth straight win to begin the season, topping the Bears 31-16.

The Dolphins traveled to New York to face the Jets on September 30th, looking to extend their 4-game winning streak.  However, the Jets were not going to roll over for the Division leaders.  The game started with a fumble recovery in the endzone, giving the Jets an early 7-0 lead.  The Dolphins would recover, however, scoring 10-points before the first quarter ended.   The Jets, however, would dominate the second period, scoring on two Tom Newton 1-yard rushes.  The third quarter would prove no better for the Dolphins, as Griese threw an interception, returned 58-yards for six.  Trailing 26-10, Miami looked to respond, scoring 10 quick points to pull within six.  However, Jets quarterback Richard Todd found receiver Wesley Walker on a 71-yard score to seal the victory for the home squad.  Miami managed to score once more, to make the final score more respectable, but the Dolphins still dropped the game 33-27.

 Bobgriese1_medium

Dolphins Quarterback Bob Griese via turbo.inquisitr.com

Stunned by the Jets, the Dolphins traveled cross country to Oakland to face the 2&3 Raiders.  The Dolphins opened the game fighting to a 0-0 tie at the half.  However, the second half would prove to be the Raiders'.  Finally giving the scorekeeper something to do, the Raiders put up 6 points after Raymond Chester hauled in a 14-yard Ken Stabler pass in the endzone - but failed on the extra point.  Ted Hendricks then intercepted a Griese pass, returning it 23-yards for the score.  Now trailing 13-0, the Dolphins would only be able to put up 3-points on a 23-yard von Schamann field goal before both teams went scoreless in the fourth quarter.    Dropping to 4&2, the Dolphins were moving backwards and into the reach of the rest of the AFC East.

During Week 7, the Dolphins looked to complete the season sweep of the Buffalo Bills, as well as get back to winning football.  Miami scored first, off a Tony Nathan 86-yard punt return, the only points in the first quarter.  The Dolphins, however, did not let up in the second period, as Csonka found pay-dirt from 7-yards out, followed by a von Schamann 29-yard field goal.  The second half saw Miami's defense take over, as the team held on to win 17-7.

Tied with the Patriots for first place in the AFC East, the Dolphins traveled to New England on October 21st.  Miami jumped out to an early 13-0 lead, including a 53-yard field goal from von Schamann.  Just before the half, however, the Patriots cut the lead to six.  The second half, would be all New England, as the Patriots scored 21 unanswered second half points, taking the game 28-13, and, more importantly, gaining a 1-game lead in the AFC East hunt.

Once again, the Dolphins were looking to rebound from a loss, this time against the Green Bay Packers in the Orange Bowl.  From the opening gun, the Dolphins dominated the game, scoring the first 20 points of the game, and eventually locking up a 27-7 win, behind 195-yards rushing and 304-yards passing. 

The Dolphins would continue their recent trend of following alternating wins and losses with their Monday Night visit from the Houston Oilers.  The Dolphins scored first in the game, with a 32-yard field goal from von Schamann.  The Oilers struck next, hitting three field goals in the second and third quarters.  In the fourth, Schamann connected from 51-yards, but the Dolphins failed to mount a comeback, and lost the game 9-6.

Welcoming the Colts into Miami in Week 11, the Dolphins quickly took over the game.  Nat Moore caught two first half touchdown passes from Griese, taking a 13-0 lead into the half.  The Defense continued to stand up in the second half, as the Dolphins kicked two field goals to finish the shutout 19-0.

Week 12 would prove that the Dolphins had not yet solved the alternating wins and losses problem.  The Browns hosted the Dolphins on November 18th, and scored the only first quarter points on a 2-yard run.  The Dolphins responded with the only second quarter points, on a 38-yard field goal.  Both teams turned on the scoring in the second half, including two Ozzie Newsome touchdown receptions for the Browns, and two Don Strock touchdown passes for Miami.  At the end of the fourth quarter, the two teams found themselves tied at 24 apiece.  Cleveland would pull out the 30-24 win on a 39-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brian Sipe to wide receiver Reggie Rucker.

 F0d3c8d4b9079df81153a1769ee10ffd_medium

Dolphins Quarterback Don Strock via blogimg.goo.ne.jp

Looking to turn around their season, the 7&5 Dolphins found themselves one game behind the AFC East leading Patriots with four games remaining, including a Week 14 game against New England.  But, first, Miami faced the Baltimore Colts, a team that had defeated 19-0 just two weeks previous.  This time as the visitors, Miami saw their shutout disappear in the first quarter, as Baltimore scored on a 3-yard touchdown pass.  Miami responded with a first quarter strike of their own - a Strock touchdown pass to Duriel Harris.  They followed that score with a 3-yard Csonka run in the second quarter, taking the 14-7 lead into the half.  The second half began where the first half ended, as Miami scored as Harris caught a 31-yard pass from Griese.  Baltimore added a touchdown of their own in the third, and then a field goal at the start of the fourth quarter.  The teams would then trade touchdown passes, giving Miami the 28-24 victory.  With the win, the Dolphins improved to 8&5 at the same time that the Buffalo Bills defeated the Patriots, dropping New England into an 8&5 tie with Miami.

Week 14 brought the two AFC East leaders together in a Thursday night showdown a week after Thanksgiving 1979.  After a lack-luster first quarter that featured only a Miami 31-yard field goal, the teams put away the defense and turned on their offenses.  Miami put up the first touchdown with a 1-yard Csonka run.  The Patriots immediately responded with 17-points of their own, before the Dolphins put another field goal on the board.  Coming out of halftime, the Dolphins took charge of the game, scoring 26 points, to include a 38-yard pass from Griese to Moore and a safety when the Patriots snapped the ball out the back of the endzone.  The Patriots managed to find the endzone one more time at the end of the fourth quarter, but by then the Dolphins were already assured of the victory.  With the final score of 39-24, Miami found itself in sole possession of first place in the AFC East, with only two games remaining, both against teams with losing records.

The first of those two remaining games was played on December 9th in Detroit.  The Dolphins easily dispatched the 2&12 Lions, behind 229-yards passing from Griese, including 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception.  The Dolphins held the Lions to 10 points, while racking up 28 points of the own, as they improved to 10&5, and the suddenly dangerous Jets defeated the Patriots, dropping the one-time AFC East leader to a game back.

Coming in to Week 16, the New York Jets were on a 2-game winning streak, and looking to play the spoiler as best they could.  The Dolphins, playing in front of their home crowd, were looking to lock up their first outright Division Championship in 5-years.  Miami would set the tone early in the game, jumping out to a 14-0 lead, only to watch New York score the next 20-points before a von Schamann field goal brought Miami to within 3 at the close of the third period.  The Jets, however, locked the game away with a fourth quarter touchdown pass.  Miami answered, but was unable to score again, giving the Jets the game, a three game winning streak to end the season, and a .500 record.  The loss dropped the Dolphins to 10&6, one game ahead of the Patriots, giving the Dolphins the 1979 AFC East Division Championship. 

With the Division Championship, the Dolphins earned a first round bye in the playoffs, and a date against the AFC Central Champion, defending Super Bowl Champion, Pittsburgh Steelers.  Playing in Pittsburgh, the Dolphins were unable to match the Steelers' offense.  Quarterback Terry Bradshaw lead the Steelers on three first half touchdown drives, giving the Steelers a 20-0 lead at the half.  Miami finally found the endzone with a third quarter pass from Griese to Harris.  However, the Steelers responded with two rushing touchdowns, stretching their lead to 34-7.  The Dolphins punched the ball in on a 1-yard Csonka run late in the fourth quarter, but it was simply window dressing, as the Steelers, on their way to their second straight, and fourth in six years, Lombardi Trophy.

 Game Date

Team

Score

Result

September 2, 1979

@ Buffalo Bills

9-7

Winn

September 9, 1979

Seattle Seahawks

19-10

Win

September 16, 1979

@Minnesota Vikings

27-12

Win

September 23, 1979

Chicago Bears

31-16

Win

September 30, 1979

@ New York Jets

33-27

Loss

October 8, 1979

@ Oakland Raiders

13-3

Loss

October 14, 1979

Buffalo Bills

17-7

Win

October 21, 1979

@ New England Patriots

28-13

Loss

October 28, 1979

Green Bay Packers

27-7

Win

November 5, 1979

Houston Oilers

9-6

Loss

November 11, 1979

Baltimore Colts

28-24

Win

November 18, 1979

@ Cleveland Browns

30-24

Loss

November 25, 1979

@ Baltimore Colts

28-24

Win

November 29, 1979

New England Patriots

39-24

Win

December 9, 1979

@ Detroit Lions

28-10

Win

December 15, 1979

New York Jets

27-24

Loss

Divisional Playoffs:

December 30, 1979

 

@ Pittsburgh Steelers

 

34-14

 

Loss

Although things were starting to look up again for the Dolphins, as the 1970's came to a close, the Dolphins' chances of competing for a Super Bowl would quickly close as well.

Miami Dolphins 1979 Pro Bowlers:

NT Bob Baumhower

LB Kim Bokamper

SS Tim Foley

Miami Dolphins 1979 AP 1st Team All Pros:

Returner Tony Nathan (Rookie)

 

 

References:

www.pro-football-reference.com

www.wikipedia.org

www.miamidolphins.com

www.profootballhof.com

www.sportsencyclopedia.com

Earlier Editions:

Historical Perspective XI - 1978

Historical Perspective X  - 1977

Historical Perspective IX - 1976

Historical Perspective VIII - 1975

Historical Perspective VII - 1974

Historical Perspective VI - 1973

Historical Perspective V - Nineteen seventy-perfect

Historical Perspective IV - 1971

Historical Perspective III - 1970

Historical Perspective II - 1967-1969

Historical Perspective I - 1965-1966

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Phinsider's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of The Phinsider writers or editors.

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