Page 96 article text (OCR)
f Sports The Palm Beach Post-Times Clipboard, E12 SECTION E SUrSDAY, DECEMBER 12, 1976 Dolphin Season Capped With Great a Big Dud 'rV2 ' - J ,;fj ft . if II JF , . Jam- . ' 4!' ( tJ? mmr J? r,. -? V;-. 1 By CHUCK OTTERSON Post Sports Writer MIAMI - Well, at least the Miami Dolphins can't complain about losing another heartbreaker. The Minnesota Vikings made it clear early in yesterday's game to everyone on the Miami bench and to the 46,543 fans who more than half-filled the Orange Bowl - that they were going to beat the Dolphins and beat them badly. The final score was 29-7, but it could have been a lot worse. After building a 29-0 lead, Minnesota coach Bud Grant chose to rest players like Fran Tarkenton, Chuck Foreman and Jim Marshall, leaving the job of humiliating the home club up to the likes of Mark Mullaney, Sammy Johnson and Bob Lee. The Dolphins, who lost to playoff teams like Baltimore by one point and Los Angeles by three, never came close. Their performance was comparable to that of a man who sets out to run a 26-mile, 385-yard marathon and quits after a quarter of a mile. "I just hate to see it end this way," a grim-faced coach Don Shula said after watching the Dolphins suffer their eighth defeat against six victories his worst record in 14 years as a head coach in the National Football League. "Maybe it's only fitting that this year end this way, instead of playing halfway decent and thinking we might have the answers for next year. This way we can be realistic and know we have to make a lot of changes to get the job done." For all practical purposes, the outcome was decided midway through the first quarter when Miami ran six plays from the Minnesota four (four of them from inside the two after picking up an automatic first down on a holding penalty against the Vikings) and failed to score. On fourth down from the three-inch line, rookie Gary Davis tried to crash through the left side of the Minnesota line but was halted by Carl Eller and Jeff Siemon. "If we could have scored then," Shula said, "it might have been a different kind of ball game." Maybe. But what's one more "if" in a season that has been dominated by "it's" from the very beginning? If this hadn't happened, if this guy hadn't been hurt, if that guy hadn't made a mental mistake . . . Etc., etc., etc. After stopping the Dolphins inside the one, Minnesota drove 99 yards in 16 plays to take a 6-0 lead on a nine-vard pass from Tarkenton to rookie Sammy White with 13:27 remaining in the second period. The drive con- . ' , - w . .v, ,.-J,! JMMV Staff Photo by John J. Lopinot Minnesota's Ahmad Rashad Stiff Arms Miami's Dick Anderson Shula s Embarrassment Impossible To Disguise r Bob Bcssine Sports Editor f ir MIAMI - Watching the Miami Dolphins yesterday was like trying to drive a used Edsel. Staying home to paint the house would have been more exciting. It was the kind of game to which you'd bring your ex-wife. It's a good thing the 29-7 loss to Minnesota was the last game of the year. Dolphin players were dropping like autumn leaves up north. Coach Don Shula's already impressive injury list grew faster than his rapidly increasing embarrassment on the sidelines. After it ended, Shula, grim-faced, said. "It's going to be a long offseason." The Vikings didn't think it was that bad, but that's easy for them to say. They are headed home for the playoffs while the Dolphins are headed home to contemplate the errors of their ways. "It s a funny game," Viking coach Bud Grant said. "They weren't that bad. We just caught them right a couple of times. We could replay the Staff Photo by John J. Lopinof Dolphins' Shula Doesn't Agree With Officials' Call Turn to DOLPHINS, E4 '7TT ""w; y Pittsburgh Clinches Berth in Playoffs game next week and they might beat us." Doubtful, coach The Dolphins went in with nothing to gain and that's just about what they left the field with - nothing In the first half their entire team gained 50 yards, rushing and passing Just one Viking, Chuck Foreman, gained 53 yards. The game should have ended right there. A technical knockout. The Dolphin offensive unit and quarterback Bob Griese were booed heartily by the rightfully surly patrons Griese gave way to Don Strock in the second half. Fran Tarkenton, Minnesota's articulate and sometimes controversial signal-caller, rallied to Gnese's defense "1 hate to hear it but it's happened to all of us," Tarkenton said. "He has been a phenomenal quarterback. But that's just the nature of the position and the fans. At least they bought their tickets and were there a lot of them weren't " Shula more than hinted there will be changes, a lot of changes, before the first kickoff of the 1977 season. Immediately, the speculation started. "I'm not concerned about the Dolphins," Tarkenton said. "The last thing on my mind is analyzing them and their problems I'm not here to judge the Dolphins. My only concern is the Minnesota Vikings " One of these concerns is whether his teammates get the recognition which he feels is their due reward "Foreman in the first half1" he said. "Nothing unusual. He was just being Chuck Foreman. The man is the best back in the National Football League. I don't know if he's going to get it or not that's up to you guys in the press box but if he isn't named most valuable player it will be an injustice. "He runs, he catches passes, h.' blocks like hell, he does everything a back should do and some things other backs have never heard about. I can't think of anyone else in the Turn to BASSINE, E4 -Kr X 'immL ' mJ WL V back began and he made the big plays yesterday. "I struggled, I struggled for a long time," Bradshaw said. "But I came up with a few big plays and didn't let anybody down. "This team is really happy It's a great feeling to come back like we did. It's great to be a part of it." Noll said he did not strongly consider replacing Bradshaw with backup quarterback Mike Kruscek, the youngster who carried the Steelers to six of their nine consecutive victories. "I just told Mike to keep ready," Noll said. "There was no plan to put him in. But there was no question Terry was terribly rusty " Bradshaw completed eight of 19 passes tor 76 yards and added 35 yards rushing on four carries. But he was never replaced, even when the game was a runaway in the fourth quarter. The Steelers offense, which was stymied by a rugged Oiler defense, got the scoring chance when cornerback Mel Blount intercepted a pass by Dan Pastorini and returned it 28 yards to the Houston 13. Harris put the Steelers ahead by two touchdowns in the third quarter on an 11-yard run, with Bradshaw throwing a decisive block. Harris started to his right, then suddenly reversed to the left. Bradshaw took out two potential tacklers, and Harris drove down the sideline to score. Turn to STEELERS, E3 From Post Wirt Sirvtccs HOUSTON - Pittsburgh's playoff-clinching 21-0 victory over Houston yesterday will go into the record books as a regular season National Football League game, but to the Steelers it was just another playoff game their ninth in a row. "I'm very proud of this team for the way they've played one game at a time," Steelers coach Chuck Noll said. "Since we started our winning streak, every game has been a playoff." The Steelers' victory was their ninth straight after losing lour of their first five games and it clinched the American Football Conference's Central Division title. It also gave Pittsburgh a shot at an unprecedented third straight Super Bowl title. Terry Bradshaw, after missing two games with a wrist injury, hit Lynn Swann with a 21-yard touchdown pass, ran one yard for another TD and led interference on Franco Harris' 11-yard scoring run. Pittsburgh's Steel Curtain defense did the rest. With large doses of help from Houston's inept offense and shoddy punting, the Steelers allowed the Oilers only 157 total yards. "Pittsburgh is a super football team," Houston coach O.A. (Bum) Phillips said. "They did the impossible. You will remember that I said when they were 1-4 they were anything but out of it. I think it's probably the biggest comeback in the history of pro football." Bradshaw, who missed much of the nine-game streak because of two injuries, started only his third game since the Steelers come UPl Tdephoto Steelers' Lynn Swann (88) Grabs First-Period TD Pass Money Problems May Doom Hurricane Program r Randy Schulti Sports Writer The university had experienced a $3 million deficit two years ago and these men were brought in to relieve President Dr. Henry King Stanford of day-to-day chores so he could concentrate almost solely on fund raising Green, who had been a vice-president at RPI, was thought to be a hatchet man when he arrived. He immediately began firing, kicking upstairs or displacing people who were not producing. Green was to be the numbers man, the fellow to manage the money obtained by Stanford. So he had to coldly evaluate the football program which he did by attending all but the Houston game and determine whether the school was getting . fair return on its investment. Turn to MIAMI, E3 It has brought down govenun-nts. It forced a pro-vincially proud Abraham Btme to go to Gerald Ford with hat in hand. It has provoked married couples to taunt, argue and kill. And now it may topple the University of Miami s football program. It is money. Financially, Miami football is 'n intensive care. It has so weakened in this decade that the athletic department in 1975-76 lost approximately $1 million and will sink further in red ink this year because the populace treated the team with massive indifference. Indeed, the patient's condition may be terminal. It has all the symptoms: flagging attendance, a woeful record, inept management. So when the school recognized the problem six years too late there first came the traumatic amputa- tion of Carl Selmer, the head coach who deserved a better ending. He went into a situation requiring the personality of Norman Vincent Peale and came off more like Casper-Milquetoast, his authority challenged by his assistants. "I don't know what I'm going to do," he said last Monday, though he will receive $30,000 for the next three years as payoff of his five-year contract. Selmer actually began to lose his job last summer when Miami hired two new executive vice-presidents: Dr. Clyde Wingfield, for academic affairs and Dr. John Green, for administration and here's the important part finance.