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Last Updated: Monday, 12 January, 2004, 22:18 GMT
Houston ends 30-year wait
By Martin Gough

Super Bowl XXXVIII between New England and Carolina should see more points than the first - and last - time Houston hosted the big game.

Thirty years ago, Miami and Minnesota scored just 31 between them as the Dolphins ran out 24-7 winners over the Vikings.

Houston's Reliant Stadium

But if this year's winners even remotely compares to the victors of Super Bowl VIII, a new team of the decade will have emerged.

To get to their third consecutive Super Bowl appearance, coach Don Shula's Dolphins had endured a comparatively tough year.

Their 12-2 record was down on the previous term, when they became the only team of the modern era to win every single match - a "perfect season".

Minnesota will not go down in the same historical notes.

On four occasions in an eight-year span Bud Grant led his side to the final game but they did not have a single ring to show for it.

Points were always going to be hard to score in a match pitting Miami's No Name Defense against the Purple People Eaters, led by imposing tackle Alan Page.

Dolphins quarterback Bob Griese (whose son Brian joined the team this season) passed just seven times, completing six attempts for 73 yards - a third of what you can expect this year.

But the 'Fins had no need to take to the air as Larry Csonka, a running-back with a penchant for taking on would-be tacklers head-first, amassed a Super Bowl-record 145 yards.

It was Csonka who got on the scoreboard first, scoring from five years out after a 62-yard drive from the opening kick-off that lasted less than six minutes.

Dolphins coach Don Shula
13 January, 1974
Rice Stadium, Houston, Texas
Attendance: 71,882
MVP: Larry Csonka, RB, Miami
5:27 1st: Miami - Csonka 5yd run (Yepremian kick)
13:38 1st: Miami - Kiick 1yd run (Yepremian kick)
8:58 2nd: Miami - FG Yepremian 28 yds
6:16 3rd: Miami - Csonka 2yd run (Yepremian kick)
1:35 4th: Minn - Tarkenton 4yd run (Cox kick)

In response the Vikes, led by colourful quarterback Fran Tarkenton - a man famous for his unscripted scrambling runs - managed just three plays before they were forced to punt.

Jim Kiick's first touchdown of the year was the climax of a Miami drive from their own 34-yard line and Garo Yepremian added a field goal to put them 17-0 up.

Minnesota fought back as time ticked away in the first half, driving to the Miami 20-yard-line.

But a decision not to kick on a fourth-and-one backfired spectacularly as running-back Oscar Reed fumbled.

Star Dolphins linebacker Nick Buoniconti jarred the ball loose as Reed took the ball for the third successive play, and safety Jake Scott recovered.

Another Csonka touchdown midway through the third quarter guaranteed the rusher the Most Valuable Player award.

And Miami were not challenged again, even though Minnesota struck back through a Tarkenton run.

That the Super Bowl has not returned to Houston since that 24-7 Miami victory was not the fault of the 71,882 fans who filled Rice University Stadium that day.

The Astrodome - regular home of the Houston Oilers and the world's first indoor stadium - was considered too small for the NFL's showpiece game.

And it took the building of Reliant Stadium for new side the Texans to tempt Super Sunday back to Texas.

Spectators 30 years later can expect more offensive entertainment, but they are unlikely to witness a side of the calibre of the 1974 Dolphins.

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