The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on December 12, 1976 · Page 99
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December 12, 1976

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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 99

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West Palm Beach, Florida
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Sunday, December 12, 1976
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Page 99
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gg?jgfricTlme8t Sunday, December 12. 1978 r 3 ' If i ' I r r 4 I "" 11 in''!! ii.n mil ii.iniM.m.ui.1111. vu, uM ii mji.jf.....WJu.w.Miiii i mi iniiinii. mm luiminiiiniis wi.wiiiiiii.i.hi.iiij.w.1 wih.hu wit i iiinniiiii ilium i li " ' m.uii mm n A,v -y cki xf' fe'.."-..,..v. . sk V 1 X II UMIWIIIIIII Dick Anderson Gives the Safe Sign to Minnesota's Sammie White (85) After First-Quarter Touchdown Catch hanger Dolphin As Sick s v v.-"-" tir,,"' L ( "'"'N' v; By CHUCK OTTERSON Post Sports Writer MIAMI - Jim Langer sat on a bench in the Miami Dolphins' dressing room, staring at the floor. A few feet away, someone laughed. Langer cringed. You could almost see the hairs standing up on the back of his neck. "You can't lose guys like Tim Foley, Mike Kolen, Doug Swift and Howard Twilley without it having a big effect on your football team," Miami's veteran center said. "They weren't guys with great ability but they were guys with great heart. "We didn't win two Super Bowls with super ability. We won them with guys who wanted it bad enough to work for it." The implication was obvious. The Dolphins had just turned in one of the most lackluster performances in their history and Langer felt sick about it. "Anyone who's not sick about it ought to be in some other business," he said, "or at least on some other team. "I guess the only silver lining is that maybe this way we'll weed out the people who don't belong here. "I don't see how anyone right now can sit in this locker room and be laughing. , "That's all I've got to say." Although Langer saw nothing funny in Miami's 29-7 loss to Minnesota yesterday at the Orange Bowl, the Dolphins' efforts did at times resemble a crude form of slapstick comedy. That this team could be made up, even in part, of players who went 17-0 one season and won two straight Super Bowls was almost impossible to accept. Somebody said the Dolphins played as if they had their bags already packed. Since it was the last game in a 6-8 season, maybe the statement carried quite a bit of truth. "We had such a letdown out there," linebacker Nick Buoniconti said. "But I can't pinpoint the reason for it." Buoniconti, the defensive captain of those two Super Bowl champions, played his last NFL game yesterday. He plans to retire (for the sec- Former Miami Hurricane Chuck Foreman (44) Runs Into Dolphins' Randy Crowder (74) Stall Photo by Akira Suwa Views Laughs Jokes Jim Langer ond time) and devote full time to his law practice. It was a tough game on which to quit. Earlier this season, after the Dolphins beat winless Tampa Bay, 23-20, on a last-minute field goal by Garo Yepremian, Buoniconti called it "the low point in Miami Dolphin history - a disgrace to everyone who ever wore the uniform." Did he still feel the same way after yesterday's inept performance? "It's not the same," said the man who was voted the American Football League's all-time middle linebacker. "We were still in the thick of it then and we almost lost to a team like Tampa Bay. Today was different. "This was the last game and I don't know what was going through everybody's mind. They played a tremendous football game and we played a lousy game." Quarterback Ear! Morrall, at 42 the oldest player in the NFL, said he'd have to "sit down and think about it" before deciding whether to retire. But for Buoniconti, who came back at head coach Don Shula's request following injuries to several linebackers, the decision is made. "I'm glad I came back," the 35-year-old Buoniconti said. "It was good to be part of the team again. I'm just sorry we didn't do any better than we did," r i oiai" I P - xa Bassine league who should be MVP. "And while I'm on the subject. Sammy White should be rookie of the year, also." Foreman, who played his college career in the Orange Bowl for the University of Miami, was a busy young man. He was whisked out of the Viking dressing room for a television interview and had a lot of friends waiting to see him. "It's always nice to come back here, when you can come back as a Stall Photo by Akira Suwa our team is shooting for the same thing and keeps it together. "The difference in our team this year and last year is a better offense. We have more people who can explode, people like Ahmad Rashad and Sammy White." As the Vikings left for the bus which would take them to the airport, thoughts of sugar plums and playoff opponents dancing in their heads, the Dolphins were in their quarters thinking of their futures some of which might be limited. For them it will, indeed, be a long offseason. And a longer summer camp. Don Shula has had his first taste of losing in 14 years of head coaching. He obviously dislikes it as a steady diet. winner," he said. "But I have no special feelings about playing in the stadium, just some of the friends I have around Miami." , He is a native of Fredrick, Md., but his off-season home is Miami and he isn't pleased with what has happened to the football program at his alma mater. "I can't understand it," he said. "The recruiting situation should be excellent. Look at this weather. That's how I wound up here. I Dolphins From El" From El- wanted to go south so I could play in nice weather year-round. This is an ideal place to play football." But he, too, ducked a question about the Dolphins and moved on to the more immediate question of the playoffs which begin Saturday. "That's the only place my mind is right now," he said. "No, it doesn't matter to me what happens the rest of this weekend because once you get to the playoffs all teams are good. "I think we have a good chance to win the Super Bowl if everybody on from an exercise in futility unmatched by anything since Eddie Fisher's attempt to play a dramatic role in "Butterfield 8." "It's hard to pinpoint it and put the blame on anybody," Shula said. "It was a poor, flat performance, similar to some of our games early in the season when we lost three straight. "Some of the guys who have been with me from the beginning guys like Larry Little, Jim Langer and Nick Buoniconti were battling right up to the end. "But some things have to be done. We need help." Vikings 26 46-226 ill 127 16-25-0 l-3 4-4 3-17 Dolphins 13 26-55 133 76 12-30-2 5-41 10 2-10 First downs Rushes-yards Passing yards Relorn yards Passes Punts Fumbles-lost Penaltle'-yards Minnesota 0 15 14 0-2 Miami o 0 0 77 MIN - White pass Irom Tarkenton (kick failed) MIN - White 36 pass Irom Tarkenton (kick failed) MIN -FG Cox 30 MIN - McClanahan 1 rtm (Co kick) klck)N Vyh,t" 7 P" ,rm Tark,n,on ICo ,MIA T Mrr 1 Pss from Strock (Yepremian kick) A - 46,543 INDIVIDUAL LEADERS RUSHING - Vikings, Foreman 14-71, Johnson 8 44. McClanahan 11-44. Dolphins, Davit 15-20; Winfrey 5-17, Strock 1-11. RECEIVING - Vikings, White t-120; Volgt 2- 25, Rashad 211 Dolphins, Solomon 5-62; McCreary 2-51; Mandlch 3 21 PASSING - Vikings, Tarkenton 15-23-0, 164; Lee 1-2-0, 0. Miami, Strock Me-I, 132; Griese, 3- 11-1, 30. ex.. first five attempts. Minnesota's Matt Blair intercepted one of them and returned it 20 yards to the Dolphin 20 to set up the Vikings' third TD. Brent McClanahan scored this one from a yard out and Cox added the 22nd point with 9:18 remaining in the third quarter. After forcing Miami to punt, the Vikings drove 51 yards in four plays three of them passes from Tarkenton to White to make it 29-0 with 6: 10 to go in the same period. A 33-yard pass set up the TD, which came on a seven-yarder from Tarkenton to White, who began to resemble Catfish Hunter throwing to Thur-man Munson. Strock eventually began to zero in on Freddie Solomon and other Dolphin receivers for nine completions in 19 attempts, including a two-yard-er to Stan Winfrey for Miami's only TD four pUiys into the fourth quarter. Garo Yepremian, who appeared on the field only three times (twice to kick off), added the extra point with 12:48 remaining in the game. "We weren't doing anything with Bob (Griese) in the first half," Shula said. "I thought maybe we could.go to Strock and get something going. "He had such a bad start that we were out of it before we could put any points on the board, but he finally started throwing the ball the way we think he's capable of doing." Winfrey's touchdown enabled the Dolphins to avert their first shutout since Baltimore beat them, 35-0, Nov. 1, 1970. But it salvaged little consolation sumed only a second less than nine minutes. Kicker Fred Cox did his part to keep Miami in the ball game by missing the extra-point attempt. He also missed a 24-yard field-goal try on the Vikings' next possession and missed again on the conversion attempt after Tarkenton and White teamed up on a 36-yard TD pass to give Minnesota a 12-0 lead with 2:04 to go in the second quarter. Cox finally found the range with four seconds remaining in the first half, kicking a 30-yard field goal to send the Vikings to the dressing room with a 15-0 lead. By this time, virtually everything the 'Dolphins did was going wrong and the fans were letting them know how they felt about it. First they booed. Then they left, apparently heading for home to watch the Pittsburgh-Houston game on television. "Offensively," Shula said, "we had some opportunities early and couldn't cash in on them. "We played defense like we have all year long not quite making the play, always just a step short of getting the job done "The Vikings have a fine football team They have an excellent chance of going all the way. I just wish we could have done a better job. I'm really disappointed in our football team." , Don Strock replaced Bob Gnese at quarterback to start the second half but failed to complete a pass in his UPI Telephoto Miami's White Closes In on Rashad, Who Barely Misses TD Pass 0 e 4) ' 0 t 4 , 0 ' ' ,

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