“Unknown names and faces dwelling in the twilight zone of the sport.”
Phil Tuckett’s writing, read by John Facenda, aptly describes the focus — or lack thereof — placed by most observers upon the offensive line. This film, on the other hand, is a love letter to the men up front, specifically, to Miami’s front five, a group that includes two Hall of Famers (Jim Langer, Larry Little) and perpetual Hall of Fame nominee Bob Kuechenberg.
The game was so decisive (Miami led 24-0 before Minnesota finally got on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter) and so devoid of playcalling diversity (Miami’s run-to-pass ratio was a Darrell Royal-esque 53-to-8) that the focus is not on what the Dolphins did at Rice Stadium, but how they did it. The result is a detailed explanation from Miami head coach Don Shula — working via voiceover — of his line’s use of “cross-blocking” and how its success in defusing the Vikings’ famed front four allowed the Dolphins to eventually go to more straightforward, man-on-man blocking as the game evolved.
More than any other piece of film, this 23-minute piece explains why the Dolphins of the early-to-mid-1970s are among the game’s all-time elite teams; their path to victory was as straightforward as any that has ever been employed by an NFL dynasty.
The highlight of the film, however, is its montage near its conclusion, setting the runs of Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris to Scottish bagpipes and the words of Minnesota defensive end Carl Eller, as read by John Facenda.
And if you’re in bridge construction and are a “bear for detail,” look at the Dolphins’ helmets throughout the film. Never mind that the jumping dolphin on the logo should actually have a Dolphins logo on his helmet, and not an “M” (which means that dolphin logo should have another dolphin on his helmet, and so on and so on into infinity). Rather, look for how the mammal is directly in front of the sun on some logos and down lower and partially out of the sun on others. The ‘Fins were in the midst of a logo tweak back then, but the change came gradually — unlike nowadays, where if a team changed its helmet adornment, it would surely be correct on every player’s headgear within a day.
BEST NARRATION: “There are times when an athletic event transcends the boundaries of sport and becomes embedded in the nation’s consciousness. In eight seasons, the Super Bowl has become such an event.”
The haunting bagpipe sequence is one of the finest slow-motion montages NFL Films has ever cobbled together.