"There were a lot of fine things on the field today." Shula said. "Csonka hurt his leg in the first half but refused to go out. He got us the rough yardage at the end when we had to have it. The defense played poorly in the first half, letting them break tackles for touchdowns, but then shut them out in the second half. I'm as proud of this bunch as I ever have been of a team."
In many ways the Miami Dolphins are an unlikely group. When the sun shines brightly on the artificial turf in the Orange Bowl the place seems more like a skating rink than a football field, yet their running backs navigate on it so well that one of them, Csonka, leads the American Football Conference in total yards gained and another, Jim Kiick, who was hurt and hardly played Sunday, is fifth. They have one guard who had to melt down from 280 pounds to 265 to reach his full potential and another who turned to football to avoid being shot out of a cannon.
The two big runners are distinguished for a sense of humor almost as much as for their ability to rip through defensive lines. Csonka, the first draft pick for the Dolphins in 1968, was the AFC's No. 2 ground gainer in 1970, picking up 874 yards in 193 carries. He leads now with 617 yards in 113 carries, which averages out to almost 5� yards a try. Running, opponents have found out, comes naturally to Larry.
"My high school coach in Stow, Ohio had played for Ben Schwartzwalder at Syracuse, so we ran," he said. "We also blocked and caught passes and did everything else you have to do to play football, including going both ways. I went to Syracuse because of him, and under Schwartzwalder it was the same. Of course, I didn't expect to break Jim Brown's records or Floyd Little's, but it happened. I don't take too much credit for it."
Csonka is being overly modest. He is a bigger back than Brown; he took off 13 pounds in 1970 to add to his speed and quickness and that brought him down to 237. Yet at 6'2", his weight is so well distributed that he in fact appears almost slim. He wears a small mustache and in general gives the impression of a man who enjoys himself very much playing football.
Csonka and Kiick exchange asides during a game, and one of the asides came as a result of their being nicknamed Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Both of them like Western movies and Western music and once, after Kiick had been buried under a pile of Ram linemen, he climbed to his feet and used a line from the movie. "Who are those guys?" he said to Csonka as they went back to the huddle. "We aren't coming this way again."
They did, however, come that way again. They came often enough to beat the Rams 20-14.
Kiick led the conference in touchdowns scored by running in 1969, with nine, and added six more in 1970, but he didn't score this season until a game against the Patriots. The Dolphins built up a wide lead and Kiick took the ball in from the one-yard line.
"I was supposed to be leading the play," said Guard Larry Little, the man who shed 15 pounds to make the club. "I had never scored a touchdown in all the time I had been playing ball and I'm out there behind Jim with no one to block, so I hollered 'Lateral to me.' He just looked back and said 'Next time' and went on in with it."
"Kiick is all-round," says Shula. "He reminds me a little of Tom Matte. He runs real well, with good moves, and he blocks and he can catch the ball. He is a really fine football player."