On December 25, 1971, Garo Yepremian boots a 37-yard field goal in the second overtime of an AFC playoff game to give the Miami Dolphins a 27-24 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in the longest game in NFL history. Game time elapsed for the Christmas contest: 82 minutes and 40 seconds.
“After I kicked the ball,” Yepremian told reporters, “I look up at the sky and thank God for giving me the chance to kick it.”
The loss was devastating for the Chiefs, who got a remarakble performance from Ed Podalak, a largely unheralded running back. He finished with 350 all-purpose yards, an NFL record for a playoff game.
Kansas City might have won were it not for a poor performance by Pro Bowl kicker Jan Stenerud. Following a long, fourth-quarter kickoff return by Podolak, the future Hall of Famer missed a 31-yard field goal attempt with 35 seconds left. In the first overtime, his 42-yard field goal attempt was blocked.
Said Chiefs coach Hank Stram: “It’s a shame to fight that hard, play that well with them and not win.”
Yepremian was confident he would make the winning kick. “I thought when we were driving I could make anything under 50 yards,” he said. “On the sideline I was dying to get a chance to kick [the winning field goal].”
With the win, the Dolphins advanced to the AFC Championship Game, which they won against the Baltimore Colts, 21-0. Two weeks later, however, Miami lost in the Super Bowl, 24-3, against the Dallas Cowboys.
Miami bounced back the next season, finishing 17-0—the only perfect record in NFL history. In the Super Bowl, the Dolphins beat Washington, 14-7.
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