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NFL Spotlight | SIDELINES

Chiefs' Defeat Is the Toast of Miami

November 17, 2003|Houston Mitchell | Times Staff Writer

And then there was one. Perfect team, that is.

In keeping with their annual ritual, Nick Buoniconti and former teammate Dick Anderson will share a champagne celebration in a country club at Coral Gables, Fla., this week. It's a tradition a little more impressive than the one in another sport last season, when former Oakland A's pitcher Brian Kingman, at the time the last 20-game loser in the majors, followed Detroit's Mike Maroth around the league until he lost his 20th game.

So, here's to the 1972 Miami Dolphins.

And here's to the 2003 Cincinnati Bengals.

The Bengals on Sunday handed the Kansas City Chiefs their first loss, leaving the NFL with no unbeaten teams. For at least another year, the 1972 Dolphins' perfect season will remain a unique achievement.

"The magnitude of our undefeated team has never been fully appreciated," said Buoniconti, a Hall of Fame linebacker and the Dolphins' defensive leader in 1972. "It's the greatest single team record in the history of sports. It continues to stand as the most difficult team record to tie."

Buoniconti, former safety Anderson and Hall of Fame quarterback Bob Griese are among the members of the 1972 team who live in South Florida.

"I won't have champagne like Buoniconti and Anderson," Griese said. "I'm a beer-and-pretzel guy. I'm from Indiana. But I'll celebrate.... We're tickled to death it's still intact."

No team has even finished the regular season unbeaten since the Dolphins went 17-0 in 1972. The Chiefs, trying to become the first team to start 10-0 since Denver in 1998, lost to the Bengals, 24-19.

"They still had a long way to go," Buoniconti said. "Having been through it, I know what a real grind it is."

Don Shula, who coached the 1972 Dolphins, said Chief Coach Dick Vermeil deserves credit for the job he has done, despite Sunday's defeat.

"If they had gone undefeated, I would have been the first to congratulate Dick," Shula said. "I think their loss today shows how tough it is to go undefeated in the league and again highlights the unique accomplishment of that '72 team."

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Buffalo offensive tackle Mike Williams suffered minor injuries when his truck ran into a ditch en route to the Bills' eventual 12-10 loss to the Houston Texans.

He was treated in a Buffalo hospital and went to Ralph Wilson Stadium, where he was examined by the team's doctor. Bill spokesman Scott Berchtold said the doctor sent Williams home for rest.

According to police, Williams was reaching for something that he dropped and lost control of his pickup, ending up in the ditch. Williams was the only person involved in the accident about three miles from the stadium, police said.

"From what I briefly know, the car was overturned," Buffalo Coach Gregg Williams said. "I'm not totally clued in on everything yet but they took him in for X-rays on his shoulder. I don't think it's anything serious from what I'm aware of."

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Denver's Shannon Sharpe set an NFL record for touchdown receptions by a tight end in the Broncos' 37-8 victory over San Diego.

Sharpe caught three touchdown passes, giving him 61 for his career and moving past Washington's Jerry Smith, who had 60.

Sharpe already holds the NFL records for most receptions and receiving yards by a tight end. He was uncharacteristically modest when asked about the record.

"My name is in the record book, but I look at all the people who have been around me, starting with No. 7 [John Elway]. There have been a lot of guys throwing me passes and a lot of guys drawing up game plans for me."

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Edgerrin James became the Colt franchise's all-time rushing leader early in the second half of Indianapolis' 38-31 victory over the New York Jets.

James surpassed Lydell Mitchell when he gained three yards on his first carry of the third quarter. James finished with 127 yards in 36 carries, giving him 5,540 career yards. Mitchell's mark was 5,487 yards with the Baltimore Colts.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

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*--* Bests of the Day PASSING Att Cmp Yds TD PEYTON MANNING, Colts 36 27 401 1 DAUNTE CULPEPPER, Vikings 49 27 396 1 KELLY HOLCOMB, Browns 35 29 392 3 JAKE DELHOMME, Panthers 30 20 317 0 DONOVAN McNABB, Eagles 30 24 314 2 TRENT GREEN, Chiefs 42 28 313 2 JOEY HARRINGTON, Lions 48 26 285 1

*--*

*--* RUSHING Att Yards Avg TD DEUCE McALLISTER, Saints 28 173 6.2 2 RUDI JOHNSON, Bengals 22 165 7.5 0 WARRICK DUNN, Falcons 23 162 7.0 0 EDGERRIN JAMES, Colts 36 127 3.5 3 SHAUN ALEXANDER, Seahawks 20 110 5.5 1

*--*

*--* RECEIVING No Yards Avg TD MUHSIN MUHAMMAD, Panthers 9 189 21.0 0 REGGIE WAYNE, Colts 9 141 15.7 0 TORRY HOLT, Rams 9 124 13.8 1 ANDRE JOHNSON, Texans 4 122 30.5 1 ANDRE DAVIS, Browns 7 117 16.7 1 QUINCY MORGAN, Browns 5 116 23.2 1

*--*

*--* DEFENSE Breakdown KEITH BROOKING, Falcons 11 unassisted tackles PHILLIP BUCHANON, Raiders 2 int., 5 unassisted tackles

*--*

Times wire services contributed to this report.

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