Stenerud himself bore no dark personal feelings toward the Dolphins. "I have nothing against them," he said, "because I don't think they had anything to do with my performance. It could have been any other team. But I guess this is probably the biggest opening game of my career." And would he like to win the game with a late field goal? "I don't know if I want that situation to come up again or if I don't want it to," he said.
The situation did not come up. With a national television audience looking on once again, Miami neatly carved up the Chiefs for a 20-10 victory, and not many in Kansas City will be content to limit their embarrassing questions to Stenerud anymore. The opener provided enough culprits for an inquisition. Up until the last nine seconds of the game, when Dawson connected on a four-yard touchdown pass to Willie Frazier, Stenerud had accounted for the only points that the lifeless Chiefs logged on their $2 million electronic scoreboard. Turnovers, kittenish tackling and an offense seemingly stolen from one of Woody Hayes' 1950 playbooks eased Miami's chores considerably.
The Dolphins put it all out of reach in the first half when they scored 17 points and held the Chiefs to no deeper penetration than the Miami 44-yard line. Both the Miami touchdowns followed Kansas City errors. First, after Dick Anderson recovered a fumble by Podolak, Bob Griese took his mates 57 yards, ending the drive with a 14-yard pass to Marlin Briscoe. Next, late in the second quarter, after Dawson was intercepted by Jake Scott, the Dolphins moved 40 yards in three plays, Larry Csonka smashing the last two yards.
The Miami offense, which rushed for 196 yards (Csonka had 118 yards on 21 carries), overshadowed little Yepremian, but he did kick two field goals from 47 and 15 yards, though missing on three other long attempts. Stenerud's field goal was from 40 yards, but perhaps as an omen of the day that awaited the Chiefs, his first attempt was a 54-yarder that was blocked by Lloyd Mumphord.
Dawson, who was thrown four times by the Miami defense, virtually eschewed the forward pass during the first half and threw the long bomb only three or four times all afternoon—either as a tribute to the Dolphins' zone defense or the inflexibility of Stram's conservative game plan. Dawson did complete 17 of 25 passes in the second half for 195 yards, but that was just catch-up ball—and the way the K.C. receivers were muddling along it was too often not-catch-it ball.
The Chiefs' frightful performance was made all the more embarrassing since it occurred before a record local crowd of 79,829, which jammed into gleaming new Arrowhead. Built at a cost of $51 million, with $9.5 million more in improvements ponied up by the Chiefs, Arrowhead boasts 50,000 seats between the end zones, and not a single pole to spoil the sight lines. Kansas City's new show-place comes equipped with suites, as in the celebrated new Dallas ball park, but even with the four-bedroom nook reserved at Chief games for Owner Lamar Hunt, the conclusion persists that Arrowhead was built with football, not interior decorators, as its primary consideration. It may be the best football stadium in the country, no matter what they say in Texas.
But pride in architecture is not likely to offer much consolation for Kansas City fans. Nor are they likely to find much comfort in the fact that they did not have to watch six quarters to see their team lose this time. The Miami- Kansas City game of Christmas Day 1971 may be the longest game on record, but for those who sat through the sweltering heat in Arrowhead Sunday while their Chiefs bumbled listlessly along, the Miami- Kansas City game of September 17, 1972 seemed absolutely endless.