FanPost

Historical Perspective XI - 1978

1978

The 1978 NFL season brought major change to the league.  Suddenly, the Regular Season was longer, as the schedule changed from 14 to 16 games.  The league also expanded the Playoffs, adding an additional Wild Card team from each conference, making the total number of teams in the Playoffs ten.  The two Wild Card teams from each conference would face each other, with the winner moving on the following week to face the top-seeded Division Champion.

After finishing 10&4 the previous year, the Miami Dolphins looked to secure one of those ten playoff positions, even aiming for the AFC East Championship.  Two years removed from Coach Don Shula's first losing season, the team was suddenly poised to be a threat in the AFC again.

The franchise started the 1978 season with a pre-draft trade, sending Safety Vern Roberson, Wide Receiver Freddie Solomon and their 1st and 5th round picks to San Francisco for Running Back Delvin Williams on April 17, 1978.

The NFL Annual Player Selection Meeting, also known as the Draft, was held on May 2-3, 1978.  Even with the trading of the team's 1st and 5th round two-weeks earlier, the Dolphins still held 14 selections.

Rnd

Overall Pick

Name

Position

School

Games Played

Season Starter

All Pro 1st Team

Pro Bowl

HOF

Remarks

1

24

To San Francisco for RB Delvin Williams (4/17/78)

 

Drafted LB Dan Bunz

2

51

Guy Benjamin

QB

Stanford

19

0

0

0

No

3a

64

Lyman Smith

DT

Duke

11

0

0

0

No

From NY Giants for RB Larry Csonka (4/6/76)

3b

81

Jimmy Cefalo

WR

Penn State

90

1

0

0

No

4a

93

Gerald Small

CB

San Jose State

104

5

0

0

No

From Cleveland for WR Paul Warfield (4/8/76)

4b

106

Eric Laakso

T

Tulane

86

4

0

0

No

5a

111

Ted Burgmeier

CB

Notre Dame

8

0

0

0

No

5b

133

To San Francisco for RB Delvin Williams (4/17/78)

 

Drafted CB Bruce Theadgill

6

163

Doug Betters

DE

Nevada - Reno

146

7

1

1

No

7a

178

Karl Baldischwiler

T

Oklahoma

118

7

0

0

No

From Cleveland for WR Paul Warfield (4/8/76)

7b

190

Lloyd Henry

WR

NE Missouri St

0

0

0

0

No

8

217

Sean Clancy

LB

Amherst

26

0

0

0

No

9

247

Bruce Hardy

TE

Arizona State

151

6

0

0

No

10

274

Mark Dennard

C

Texas A&M

91

4

0

0

No

Rookie Year on IR

11

301

To Seattle for DT Carl Barisich (7/20/77)

 

Drafted LB George Halas

12a

331

Mike Moore

RB

Middle Tennessee St.

0

0

0

0

No

 

12b

333

Bill Kenney

QB

Northern Colorado

106

7

0

1

No

From Denver for RB Jim Kiick (4/10/76)

(Bold players on Miami active roster at some point in career)

Ss1977_medium

Stanford Quarterback and Dolphins' 1978 second round pick Guy Benjamin via www.gasolinealleyantiques.com

The Dolphins followed up the 1978 Draft by making a series of trades leading into the season.  The first of these trades took place just a week after the draft. With Miami sending Tight End Jim Mandich to Washington for 8th Round Draft Picks in 1979 and 1980.  Mandich leftthe Dolphins with121 receptions for 1,406 yards and 23 touchdowns in 119 games played, having started 16 of them.  He completed the 1978 season, his final year playing, with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but had no catches.

The next move for the Dolphins came on July 5th, when they sent an 8th round selection in 1979 to Tampa Bay in exchange for defensive end Council Rudolph.

The final pre-season trade for Miami took place on August 28, 1978, as the Dolphins sent rookie tackle Karl Baldischwiler to the Lions for a 10th round draft choice in 1979.

The 1978 Season opened on Sunday, September 3rd, and included a Miami trip to New York to face the Jets.  After starting quarterback Bob Griese tore knee ligaments during a pre-season game, the Dolphins turned to backup quarterback  Don Strock, who went 10-for-23 for 108 yards, a touchdown, and 2 interceptions.  Meanwhile, New York quarterback Richard Todd went 17-for-25 for 245 yards, 1 interception, and 3 touchdowns, including 2 to second year receiver Wesley Walker.  The Jets led wire-to-wire, as they defeated Miami 33-20.

A week later, Miami traveled to Baltimore, looking to get into the 1978 win column.  Once again starting for the Dolphins, Strock went 13-for-20 for 151 yards and 3 touchdowns.  Miami also picked up rushing touchdowns from Bennie Malone and Gary Davis, as six different Dolphins ran the ball for a combined 292 yards on 42 carries.  Meanwhile, the Dolphins defense shutdown the Colts' offense, picking off quarterbacks Bill Troup and Mike Kirkland six times, including the first interception of linebacker Kim Bokamper's career, and a 53-yard interception and touchdown return by corner-back Norris Thomas.  The Dolphins dominated the Colts throughout the game, winning it 42-0.

Week 3 brought the Buffalo Bills to Miami on September 17, 1978.  Miami jumped to an early 7-0 lead when running back Leroy Harris punched it in from 4-yards out, the only score of the first quarter.  Both teams found pay-dirt in the second period, as Bills' runningback Terry Miller scored, only to see Miami respond with a 6-yard pass from Strock to wide receiver Andre Tillman.  The third quarter saw the scoring continue, as Miami kicker Garo Yepremian kicked a 49-yard field goal, answered by Buffalo's Tom Dempsey with a 46-yard kick of his own.  The Dolphins finished the third quarter scoring with a 65-yard touchdown run from running back Gary Davis. Leading 24-17 at the start of the fourth quarter, Miami saw the Bills close the gap with a 92-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Joe Ferguson to wideout Frank Lewis.  Miami once again responded, however, when the game's leading rusher Delvin Williams scored on an 18-yard run.  The Bills tacked up another 7 on a 4-yard pass from Ferguson to running back Roland Hooks, but still fell to the short side of the 31-24 score; Miami improved to 2&1 on the season.

Delwilliams_medium

Dolphins newly acquired running back Delvin Williams  via dolphinfaned.tripod.com

Heading back on the road in Week 4, the Dolphins visited the Eagles in Philadelphia.  After scoring 73-points in the previous two weeks, Miami suddenly could not find the endzone, as Strock was intercepted three times and the rushing attack was held to just 82-yards, compared to the 222-yards rushing by the Eagles.  Miami dropped the game 17-3, falling back to .500.

Miami returned to their winning ways in Week 5, as they hosted the winless St. Louis Cardinals.  Strock threwfor 144  yards during a 12-for-21 day, along with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception.  The ground game added 123 yards, 94 of which belonged to Williams, who also found the endzone on a fourth quarter 1-yard run.  Meanwhile, the Cardinals racked up 351 total yards (140-rushing, 211-passing), but were only able to put up 10 total points, and lost the game 24-10. 

Miami welcomed the Cincinnati Bengals into the Orange Bowl for the Week 6 Monday Night Football.  Unfortunately for the winless Bengals, it was not a hospitable welcoming.  The Dolphins scored the game's only points in the first two quarters, with Strock hitting third-year wide receiver Duriel Harris and rookie wideout Jimmy Cefalo for touchdowns, and second-year nose-tackle Bob Baumhower returning a fumble 13-yards for a score.  The Dolphins improved to 4&2 with the 21-0 win.

Jimmy_2bcefalo_gif_medium

Dolphins' rookie Wide Receiver Jimmy Cefalo  via 4.bp.blogspot.com

The Dolphins', looking to solidify their running game, looked to the Washington Redskins for some help.  On October 10, 1978, Miami traded running back Benny Malone and a 5th round pick in 1980 to the Redskins for fullback Jim Braxton and a 1979 3rd round pick.

On October 15th, Miami made the cross-country trek to San Diego to play the 2&4 Chargers.  The Dolphins, firmly on the accelerator the last few weeks, did not let up on the hapless Chargers.  The Dolphins found the endzone threetimes in the first half, with Jim Braxton rushing for two of the three scores.  The Chargers' quarterback Dan Fouts kept the game as close as possible, throwing for a 22-yard score to running back Lydell Mitchell.  The third quarter held all of the second half scores, as Mitchell rushed into the endzone twice for the Chargers, wrapped around a Nat Moore touchdown pass from Bob Griese, who returned from his pre-season injury to play the second half.  Miami left San Diego with the 28-21 victory.

Carrying a three game winning streak into Week 8, Miami visited New England.  With both teams sitting at 5&2, this game would give an early AFC East led to the victor.  The Dolphins opened the sccoring with a 1-yard Delvin Williams rush in the first quarter.  New England responded in the second with two1-yard rushes from Andy Johnson and Sam Cunningham.  Miami tied the game with a 9-yard pass from Bob Griese to Nat Moore, only to watch New England take the lead at the end of the half on a 29-yard field goal.  The Dolphins regained the advantage when Griese hooked up with AndreTillman for a 4-yard touchdown.  The Patriots, however, retook the lead at the end of the third quarter with a 1-yard Horace Ivory rush.  Miami's Yepremian tied the game at 24 with a 29-yard field goal, but the Patriots would finish the game's scoring with a 23-yard run from Ivory and a safety when Griese was sacked in the endzone.  Dropping a game behind the Patriots with the 33-24 loss, Miami looked to rebound and climb back to the top of the division.

The Baltimore Colts traveled to Miami for their Week 9 showdown.  The Dolphins scoring began when Bokamper blocked a Colts' punt out of the back of the endzone for a safety.  Carrying the 2-0 lead into the second quarter, Miami solidified the victory before the half.  The Dolphins scored first in the quarter, when Moore caught a 33-yard Griese touchdown pass.  Baltimore responded witha32-yard touchdown pass, but missed the extra point.  Miami then put up three more scores, with Griese and Strock both connecting for touchdown passes (Strock's only pass of the game), while Yepremian hit a field goal between the two receptions.  Baltimore managed to force rookie punter George Roberts out of the endzone for a safety.  Miami returned to their winning ways with the 26-8 victory, completing the season sweep of the Colts.

Bokamperkim_medium

Miami Dolphins Linebacker Kim Bokamper  via dolphinfaned.tripod.com .

The Dolphins hosted the defending Super Bowl Champion Dallas Cowboys, who would successfully defend their title as NFC Champions at the end of the year, on November 5, 1978.  Miami dominated the first quarter, scoring two rushing touchdowns along with a 45-yard field goal.  Both teams then went on field goal explosions, as the Cowboys kicked three field goals during the second and third periods, while Miami added two more of the own, one in the second and one in the fourth quarters.  Dallas found the endzone late in the fourth period on a 9-yard pass from Roger Staubach to Billy Joe DuPree, but it was not enough to overcome the Dolphins, who won the game 23-16.

Miami's Week 11 trip to Buffalo proved to be a tough game as the Dolphins looked to complete their second season sweep of a Division rival in 1978.  Miami scored first on a Delvin Williams25-yard rush, only to see Buffalo respond with a 5-yard pass from Ferguson to Reuben Gant.  During the second period, both teams opened up the offenses, as 25 total points were scored, including a 47-yard field goal by Miami's Yepremian and a 58-yard rush by Buffalo's Curtis Brown.  Leading 22-17 at the half, Miami then scored the only third quarter points when Yepremian hit his second field goal of the game, pushing the advantage to 25-17.  Buffalo's Joe Ferguson found Frank Lewis for a 14-yard  fourth quarter touchdown, making the score 25-24 Miami.  The Dolphins would hold on to finish the game with the same score, complete the sweep, and move to 8&3 on the season.

November 20, 1978 saw Miami on Monday Night Football for the second time during the season, this time facing the Oilers in Houston.  Once again, Miami scored first, when Griese foundMoore for a 10-yard touchdown pass.  Houston responded with a 1-yard run from running back Earl Campbell.  The two teams again traded touchdowns in the second period, leading to a 14-14 tie at the half.  Continuing the evenly matched struggle, both teams again traded endzone trips in the third quarter.  However, the Oilers would take control in the fourth quarter, when, following an A.J. Duhe sack of Oilers quarterback Dan Pastorini in the endzone for a safety, Campbell scored on 12-yard and 81-yard rushes.  Dolphins' rookie Cefal scored on an 11-yard pass from Griese, but it would prove to be window dressing as the Oilers won the game 35-30, dropping the Dolphins to 8&4.

Griese_bob_action_180-220_medium

Dolphins quarterback Bob Griese via www.profootballhof.com .

The Dolphins welcomed the New York Jets to the Orange Bowl in Week 13, hoping to avenge their Week 1 loss in New York.  Miami continued its pattern of early leads, scoring the only first quarter points on a 38-yard Yepremian field goal.  The second period witnessed traded field goals from both teams, and Miami took the 6-3 lead into the half.  The Jets, however, would dominate the second half, scoring two third quarter rushing touchdowns and a fourth quarter touchdown pass.  Miami would add a late touchdown from Don Strock to Bruce Hardy, after Griese wasbenched following his third interception of the game.  The Jets would improve to 7&6, a game behind the now 8&5 Dolphins, with both teamslooking up at the 10&3 New England Patriots, with three games to go in the expanded regular season.

December football began with the Dolphins traveling to the Nation's Capital to face the 8&5 Redskins.  Miami would control the entire game, winning 16-0 on three Yepremian field goals and a 40-yard touchdown from Griese to Cefalo.  The AFC East tightened a little more, as the Dolphiins'victory was coupled with a New England loss.

Now just one game behind the Patriots with two to play, the Dolphins hosted the Oakland Raiders on December 10th.  Miami once again made easy work of their opponent, this time holding the Raiders to a lone third-quarter touchdown pass from Ken Stabler to Fred Biletnikoff, but the Raiders missed the extra point.  The Dolphins meanwhile scored three Yepremian field goals, including a 35-yarder in the first quarter and a 34-yarder in the fourth, as well as a 5-yard Norm Bulaich run and a 46-yard interception return by Gerald Small.  The Dolphins improved to 10&5 on the 23-6 victory, holding pace with the similarly victorious Patriots.

 Bulaichnorm_medium

Dolphins runningback Norm Bulaich via dolphinfaned.tripod.com


Miami found themselves one game behind New England in the AFC East coming into a Week 16 Monday Night matchup with the Patriots.  Miami found themselves already having earned a playoff berth as a Wild Card, but looked to tie the Patriots in first place in the Division.  The Dolphins held the Patriots to a lone field goal in the fourth quarter, while racking up 23 points of their own.  The Dolphins finished the first 16-game season with an 11&5 record, tied for the AFC East Division title, and hosting the AFC Wild Card game against the Houston Oilers.

 Following three years of playoff-less football, the Dolphins were once again in the NFL's post-season.  Welcoming the OilerstoMiami, the Dolphins looked to avenge their 35-30 Week 12 loss.  The Dolphins initiated the scoring with a 13-yard pass from Griese to Andre Tillman in the first quarter.  The Oilers came back with a 13-yard first quarter touchdown pass of their own.  Locked into a defensive struggle throughout the middle two periods of the game, Houston scored next on a 35-yard fourth quarterfield goal, then followed that with a 1-yard Earl Campbell rushing touchdown.  Miami, struggling to find any offense, would only score on a safety when the Oilers' quarterback Dan Pastorini ran out of the endzone.  The Oilers again beat the Dolphins, this time 17-9 to advance in the AFC Playoffs and send the Dolphins home.

 Game Date

Team

Score

Result

September 3, 1978

@ New York Jets

33-20

Loss

September 10, 1978

@ Baltimore Colts

42-0

Win

September 17, 1978

Buffalo Bills

31-24

Win

September 24, 1978

@ Philadelphia Eagles

17-3

Loss

October 1, 1978

St. Louis Cardinals

24-10

Win

October 9, 1978

Cincinnati Bengals

21-0

Win

October 15, 1978

@ San Diego Chargers

28-21

Win

October 22, 1978

@ New England Patriots

33-24

Loss

October 29, 1978

Baltimore Colts

26-8

Win

November 5, 1978

Dallas Cowboys

23-16

Win

November 12, 1978

@ Buffalo Bills

25-24

Win

November 20, 1978

@ Houston Oilers

35-30

Loss

November 26, 1978

New York Jets

24-13

Loss

December 3, 1978

@ Washington Redskins

16-0

Win

December 10, 1978

Oakland Raiders

23-6

Win

December 18, 1978

New England Patriots

23-3

Win

December 24, 1978

Wildcard Playoffs

Houston Oilers

17-9

Loss

After rebuilding from the 1976 losing season, the 1978 Dolphins were once again a playoff team and were looking to continue to improve and make a deeper run in the playoffs.

Miami Dolphins 1977 Pro Bowlers:

QB Bob Griese

RB Delvin Williams (Starter)

G Bob Kuechenberg

C Jim Langer

K Garo Yepremian

Miami Dolphins 1977 AP 1st Team All Pros:

RB Delvin Williams

G Bob Kuechenberg

References:

www.pro-football-reference.com

www.wikipedia.org

www.miamidolphins.com

www.profootballhof.com

www.sportsencyclopedia.com

Earlier Editions:

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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