State of Perfection in Pro Football
In the history of pro football, perfection has been a rare feat.  Not only that, half of the teams that had an unbeaten regular season lost in the post season.  We will take a stroll down memory lane to review pro football's unbeaten teams.

 Bob Griese watches Larry Csonka Run

The 1934 Chicago Bears were the first team to achieve perfection during the regular season.  The Bears would go 13-0 and were clearly the best team in football.  During that season, they scored a league high 286 points and allowed only 86 points, winning by an average of 15.38 points per game during the regular season.  They were led by future Hall of Famer Bronko Nagurski who was a devastating blocker and a punishing runner.  They looked unstoppable until they ran into the “Sneakers Game.”  At halftime of the 1934 NFL Championship Game, the Bears led 10-3 in a game being played on an icy field.  Neither team could keep their footing in the first half.  The Giants borrowed some sneakers from a local college at halftime and dominated the second half to defeat Chicago 30-13.  If it were not for the icy field conditions, the Bears probably would have been the first team in pro football to have an undefeated season.

In 1942, the Chicago Bears had perhaps the most dominating season in NFL history.  Behind quarterback Sid Luckman, the Bears scored 34.2 points per game and won by an average of 26.6 points per game during the regular season on their way to an 11-0 record.  After a great season, the Bears would play the Redskins for the first time that season in the NFL Championship Game.  Just two years earlier, the Bears had blasted the Redskins in the Championship Game 73-0.  The Redskins were led by a stout defense and “Slingin' Sammy” Baugh, perhaps the greatest quarterback of his era and one of the greatest football players of all-time.  Despite the Bears dominance during the regular season, Baugh and the Redskins who were great in their own right during the regular season with a 10-1 record would win the Championship Game 14-6.  Once again, true perfection had eluded the Chicago Bears.

1948 was the first time perfection was achieved in pro football.  The Cleveland Browns of the AAFC finished the regular season 14-0 and won the AAFC Championship Game over the Buffalo Bills 49-7 to cap off their perfect season.  Cleveland had a passing game ahead of its time.  Otto Graham was the elite quarterback in pro football, and he fired passes to Dante Lavelli and Mac Speedie, lighting up scoreboards with big plays.  Marion Motley was a great running back and perhaps the best blocking fullback of all-time giving Otto Graham plenty of time to hit his All-Pro wide receivers.  Both Motley and Bill Willis (who anchored the defense) were the first black players since 1933 to play pro football.  They helped break the color barrier in 1946, a year before Jackie Robinson did in baseball.  The Cleveland Browns were the first truly perfect team in pro football.

It took another 24 years in pro football until the next perfect season would happen.  This time it was the 1972 Miami Dolphins led by a power running game that put up nearly 3000 yards rushing in just 14 games.  They had a three headed monster with Larry Csonka, Jim Kiik, and Mercury Morris racking up yards on the ground week after week.  Despite an injury to starting quarterback Bob Griese, the Dolphins rode the wave to perfection for the second time in pro football but the first time in the NFL.  Like the Browns of 1948, the Dolphins knew they had achieved greatness.  However, going undefeated was not their goal.  They just wanted to avenge their loss in the Super Bowl the previous year and that they did.  The Dolphins' accomplishment has stood alone in the NFL for the past 35 years.

The 2007 New England Patriots have completed the first half of their perfect season; the regular season with a 16-0 record.  Tom Brady has set a new record for touchdown passes with 50, and Randy Moss has eclipsed Jerry Rice’s record for touchdown receptions with 23.  To top it off, they have scored the most points during the regular season in NFL history.  However, the Patriots know that their accomplishment will mean nothing if they do not complete perfection in the post season.  Will the Patriots be like the 1934 and 1942 Chicago Bears?  Or will they achieve complete perfection like the 1948 Cleveland Browns and the 1972 Miami Dolphins?  The world will be watching as history unfolds.

By A. Goodin,
January 2, 2008