Fernandez played the biggest part in the Dolphins' line victory. A free agent from Utah, he is not overpowering, but he is strong and quick and indefatigable, too. "I think we outplayed them, out-executed them," he said after the game. "We've got superior personnel. The few times they did burn us, it was because we were overaggressive."
The Miami aggressiveness was seldom out of hand, however, while by contrast Washington appeared to play too cautiously—especially in the first half. "We were not waiting for the other team to lose," said Shula. "We were doing things to win. We've got confidence in our ability to execute. It helped to have been here last year, too."
Washington Coach George Allen seemed to be most discombobulated of all the principals by the attendant pressures. He never stopped complaining about the "distractions" common to a Super Bowl, and he regularly let the press hordes get under his skin. Allen works tirelessly and devotes himself altogether to the task of victory—"To win this game, I'd let you stick a knife in me and draw all my blood," he declared a couple days before the game—and he expects the same of his players.
But for a game like the Super Bowl, it is probably better to take it easy. At least it now seems so. Shula was relaxed and amiable throughout, and was almost elfin in the interminable interviews that are a league requirement for Super Bowl coaches.
Allen, on the other hand, only grew more querulous as the week wore on. In his last press session he snapped: "This is the first time in 23 years as a head coach I have missed a meeting with my team. I hope you fellows don't ask me the same questions today that you've been asking me all week." He also blamed the press for ruining his team's practice Thursday, and when he was not bemoaning the fourth estate he took after his players' wives. "If we could arrange for the wives to be in Chicago, I'd be happy," he announced, only half in jest. The players were hardly in agreement;
The Washington Post
reported that on Tuesday night before all the wives had arrived the Redskins placed "a league record" 236 long-distance phone calls from their motel.
What time he had, Allen devoted to the most meticulous preparation. He even sent an associate to the Coliseum to scout the sun for a couple of hours. The man brought back a detailed solar chart.
How did Allen's intensity affect the team? One player, who understandably must remain anonymous, said: "We should have left him in Washington."
No such controversy swirled about the happy Dolphins, although Shula did bridle when his old Baltimore boss, Carroll Rosenbloom, who now owns the Los Angeles Rams, offered some bitter comments to the effect that Shula could not win the big one. He has now, and so have his Dolphins.
As Super Bowl VII sank slowly in the West, the only sad Dolphin was little Yepremian, whose faux pas could have cost a lot more than embarrassment. "That championship ring will hang heavy on my hand," he said, shaking his mournful face.
The empty fingers of the Redskins will hang heavier still.