Tennessee's a Perfect 10, But Tough NFL Games Ahead
by Greg Melikov - 11/20/2008
About this time a year when an NFL team or two is unbeaten, talk always centers on if there is a chance for another Perfect Season.
It has been more than 35 years since the Miami Dolphins went 17-0. No team before or after has duplicated the feat.
This fall the spotlight is on Tennessee that's a Perfect 10. Nine other teams have been 10-0 in the Super Bowl era since the Dolphins made history. Seven played in the championship game. Five won the title.
Chicago captured the '85 Super Bowl and tasted defeat only once en route to a 15-1 season. Ironically, it came in Joe Robbie Stadium where Miami triumphed.
The year before, the Dolphins started out 10-0 and made the Super Bowl, but fell to San Francisco.
There are similarities between the undefeated Dolphins of '72 and the '08 Titans.
Both teams lost their starting quarterback early in the season. Miami's Bob Griese fractured a small bone in his right leg and dislocated the ankle when sacked in the fifth game against San Diego. Enter veteran Earl Morrall and the Dolphins won, 24-10.
Tennessee lost starter Vince Young in this year's opener when he sprained a knee against Jacksonville. Enter veteran Kerry Collins came and the Titans won, 17-10.
Key strengths for both teams: potent ground games and powerful defenses. Miami's No-Name Defense allowed the opposition 127 points through 10 contests while Tennessee has given up 131 points.
The closest contest of Miami's Perfect Season was the sixth game against Buffalo in the Orange Bowl. Despite losing three fumbles, the Dolphins held off the Bills, 24-23.
So far, Tennessee has captured three games by three points: 13-10 at Baltimore and 19-16 at home against Green Bay.
On Sunday, the Titans host the Jets in Nashville before traveling to Detroit for the Thanksgiving Day game. However, their toughest games come next month when they host the Steelers on Dec. 21 and close out at Indianapolis on Dec. 28.
The record for the most consecutive games without a defeat dates back to early NFL days shortly after its founding in 1920. Ten franchises started the season in the American Professional Football Association (APFA).
First president of league was the great Jim Thorpe. He also was the star running back of the Canton Bulldogs, which posted 22 victories and three ties in '21-23. The APFA was renamed the NFL in '22.
New England holds the record for most consecutive triumphs spread over two regular seasons - 18. Ironically, the Patriots defeated the Titans in '03. New England didn't lose until '04 when Pittsburgh won.
Oh, the Patriots won back-to-back Super Bowls those years: 32-29 over Carolina in '03 and 24-21 against Philadelphia in '04.
Last year, New England was undefeated during the regular season, defeating the Giants to go 16-0. But in the Super Bowl, New York won, 17-14.
For 35 years, '72 Miami alums have gathered annually after the last unbeaten NFL team lost to pop open champagne in celebration of preserving the Perfect Season. The bubbly is waiting in the wings.