MIAMI -- When San Diego's Keenan McCardell made an
ill-advised decision to field a punt at his goal line Sunday, Don
Shula angrily rose from his skybox seat, stomped around the room
and then stood in the corner fuming.
"I got up and displayed some anger," Shula said later. "I was
sort of upset. Wouldn't you be?"
Nearly 10 years into retirement, the old coach can still get
worked up -- especially when a team threatens to match his perfect
San Diego ended the Indianapolis Colts' bid for perfection
Sunday, winning 26-17. That left the Colts 13-1 with two weeks to
go in the regular season.
And that means the Miami Dolphins' 17-0 record in 1972 will
remain unmatched for at least another year.
Shula and '72 quarterback Bob Griese watched the Chargers-Colts
game on TV from a suite at Dolphins Stadium, where they attended
Miami's game against the New York Jets.
"We didn't have any champagne to toast each other," Shula
said. "But we did have some Diet Cokes up there. We lifted the
Griese and a couple of his '72 teammates have been known to pop
champagne when the last unbeaten NFL team loses, feeding an image
of an annual celebration that has become a sore point for the old
"We're depicted as being happy about somebody's misfortune,"
So while Shula acknowledged cheering for the Chargers, several
'72 Dolphins claimed mixed feelings about the Colts' loss.
"If they had been able to go undefeated, then we could have
someone to talk to who would understand the experience," former
running back Mercury Morris said. "It's like trying to describe to
someone what it's like to walk on the moon. It's only a description
-- they'll never know until they go."
Griese said it was difficult to root against the Colts because
he respects their organization and players.
"In the end, I was sorry to see them lose, because it would
have been great for a team like that to win them all," Griese
said. "It's not like they are the Oakland Raiders, where it would
be hard to root for them to go undefeated."
Several '72 Dolphins said the Colts' loss may improve their
chances of winning the Super Bowl.
"Now the monkey is off their backs," former safety Dick
"I think it is better for Indianapolis," former running back
Jim Kiick agreed. "They have a lot of pressure taken off of them.
Now they can concentrate on going to the Super Bowl and winning."
But their shot at an undefeated season is gone.
Had the Colts finished 19-0, Shula said he would have been the
first to congratulate coach Tony Dungy. Instead, he was on the
phone Sunday to congratulate the Chargers' coach.
"Marty Schottenheimer is a great friend of mine," Shula said,
"and has become an even better friend now."