By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 4, 2008
GLENDALE, Ariz., Feb. 3 -- The 1972 Miami Dolphins continue to stand alone.
The New England Patriots' loss to the New York Giants on Sunday night in the Super Bowl left those Dolphins as -- still -- the only undefeated team in NFL history.
"I really feel the better team won," tight end Jim Mandich, a member of the '72 Dolphins, said in a written statement. "Congratulations to Tom Coughlin and congratulations to Eli Manning. The drive Eli put together at the end of the game will go down in Super Bowl history as one of the great drives ever. As for the 1972 Miami Dolphins, I don't take joy in the fact the Patriots lost -- period. But I do relish and savor the fact that there has only been one unbeaten team in the history of the NFL, and it is the 1972 Miami Dolphins. Of that, I am extremely proud."
Other members of the Dolphins expressed similar sentiments.
"I'm happy for the New York Giants," running back Mercury Morris said. "They were the ones who did it and they deserve to win because they did what it took to win, which is exactly what we did 17 times in 1972."
Said guard Larry Little: "Over the years people have been putting us down, calling up grumpy old men. We never wanted to see the Patriots or any other team lose. We are just happy about our accomplishments."'Greatest Victory'
Giants co-owner John Mara said the win over the Patriots had a special place in franchise history.
"I'll tell you what," Mara said, "it's the greatest victory in the history of this franchise, without question." . . .
The Giants' postseason run promises to earn a lucrative contract extension for Coughlin, their coach. People familiar with the situation said Sunday, even before the Giants' triumph, that formal negotiations had not begun yet but the two sides likely will agree to a new four-year deal in the coming weeks.
Coughlin's current deal runs through next season.
His job seemed in jeopardy when the Giants opened this season with two straight losses, that on the heels of going 8-8 last season and losing in the first round of the NFC playoffs. But Coughlin and the Giants steadied themselves, and Coughlin earned praise for being more approachable and accommodating to his players this season after clashing with them in the past.
The Giants, like many teams, don't allow a coach to work in the final season of a contract, believing that undermines his authority in the locker room. After last season's playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Mara and fellow co-owner Steve Tisch considered firing Coughlin, whose contract was to expire after this season, and were under considerable public pressure to do so. But they found more support for Coughlin within the Giants' locker room than they had expected, and instead gave Coughlin a one-year contract extension running through the 2008 season.
The message was clear that more was expected this season, and Coughlin delivered.Closed for Business
With rain in the forecast, officials closed the roof at the University of Phoenix Stadium long before kickoff. That ensured there wouldn't be a repeat of last year's rainy Super Bowl in Miami in which the Indianapolis Colts beat the Chicago Bears. . . . Defensive back Geoffrey Pope, formerly of Howard University, was on the Giants' inactive list for the game. As recently as midweek, he'd been hoping to be on the active list for the game. Veteran wide receiver Troy Brown was on the New England Patriots' inactive list. . . . Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor was named the winner of the Walter Payton NFL man of the year award, given annually for excellence on and off the field.