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Miami Dolphins All-Time Top 100 Players: 7. Bob Kuechenberg

Bob Kuechenberg was a four-time Super Bowl starter, a two-time All-NFL First Teamer, a six-time Pro Bowler, and an eight-time Hall of Fame finalist. He opened holes in the defense for 14 Miami seasons.

Kuechenberg was a 6'2" offensive lineman from Gary, IN. He played four seasons in college with the Notre Dame Fightning Irish, graduating with the Class of 1969. The Philadelphia Eagles selected him in the fourth round of the 1969 AFL/NFL Entry Draft with the 80th overall pick. He failed to make the team out of training camp, also missing the cut with the Atlanta Falcons. He would spend the 1969 season with the Minor League Chicago Owls. Miami picked him up prior to the 1970 season, where Kuechenberg wore the number 67.

As a rookie in 1970, Kuechenberg started five of Miami's 14 games at left guard. Miami's rushing offense powered to an AFC best 2,082 yards and 14 touchdowns as Miami's three-headed running back attack each gained over 400 yards. Miami made the playoffs for the first time in Dolphin's history by posting a franchise best 10-4 record on the season.

In 1971, Kuechenberg joined the starting offense full-time, starting every game at left guard. Larry Csonka enjoyed his first 1,000 yard season, finishing with 1,051 and seven touchdowns. Miami finished fourth in the NFL with 20 passing touchdowns along with an NFL best 10 interceptions. The rushing game also led the league, with 2,429 ground yards. The pass protection enabled Dolphins quarterback Bob Griese to lead the AFC with a 90.9 passer rating. Miami won eight straight games at one point, finishing at 10-3-1. They advanced to a Super Bowl VI appointment with the Dallas Cowboys by first defeating the Kansas City Chiefs, 27-24 in double overtime and then by shutting out the defending NFL champion Baltimore Colts 21-0 in the AFC Championship game. Miami lost the Super Bowl, 24-3. Fortunately they were just getting started.

1972 would see Kuechenberg again start every Miami game at left guard. Both Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris gained over 1,000 yards that season, leading Miami to an NFL leading 2,960 ground yards. Miami's pass protection allowed an AFC second lowest 21 sacks on the campaign as the team cruised to a 14-0 record. The Dolphins then reeled off three playoff victories, culminating in a Super Bowl VII victory over the Washington Redskins, 14-7.

Kuechenberg continued at left guard for Miami in 1973, starting each of the 13 games in which he appeared. Miami again could boast a fierce rushing attack, with 2,521 yards on the ground ranking third in the NFL. 5.3 yards per offensive play also led the NFL. Aided by the NFL's best pass protection (with 13 sacks allowed), Bob Griese threw eight interceptions on the season, posting a 12-1 record as a starter and helping Miami to an AFC best 12 interceptions thrown (Earl Morrall threw four in 38 pass attempts). Miami posted a 12-2 record, at one point winning ten games in a row. They gained 703 ground yards in their three postseason matchups, eventually beating the Minnesota Vikings, 24-7 in Super Bowl VIII. (See video, Kuechenberg's part starts at 1:40).

Super Stars of the Super Bowl (1986), Part 2 (via cjs3872)

In 1974, Kuechenberg started every game at left guard, making his first ever Pro Bowl appearance following the season, one of 10 Dolphins to make the team. Miami posted an 11-3 record through the season, winning the AFC East. They lost their first playoff game in three seasons to the Oakland Raiders in the "Sea of Hands," 28-26. Miami's offense scored an NFL third highest 327 points, leading the league with 25 rushing touchdowns.

1975 would see Miami post a 10-4 record, missing the playoffs for the first time in six seasons. Kuechenberg continued to start every game at left guard. He would also be invited to his second consecutive Pro Bowl, along with two other Dolphins. For the first time, he was named as part of the All-NFL First Team. The team finished sixth in the NFL with 357 points scored. The rushing attack placed fourth in the NFL with 2,500 yards and 26 touchdowns.

Kuechenberg missed four games due to injury in 1976, starting the remaining 10. Coincidentally, Miami posted their first losing record in seven seasons (and last losing season for 11 more), finishing 6-8. Miami's offense finished in the middle of the pack in most offensive categories.

1977 would see Kuechenberg return to the Pro Bowl (one of four Dolphins), his third, and the Dolphins returned to relevance with a 10-4 record. They tied the Baltimore Colts for the division lead, but missed the playoffs on a tiebreaker. Miami's offense was third in the NFL with 313 points scored. The passing game accounted for an AFC high 22 touchdowns on the campaign. Miami's quarterbacking led the league with an 86.0 rating (Bob Griese had a 87.8).

The NFL expanded the season to 16 games in 1978, Kuechenberg started 15 of the 16 games that he appeared in at left guard and left tackle, as needed. For his play, he was selected to appear in his second consecutive Pro Bowl, one of five Dolphins, and fourth overall. For the second time, he was also selected as a member of the All-NFL First Team. Miami earned a wildcard with an 11-5 record. The offense scored an NFL second best 372 points on the season. Miami also placed second in the NFL in three passing metrics, a 59.6% completion rate, a 6.3% touchdown rate, and a QBR of 82.9.

In 1979, Kuechenberg started all 16 games for Miami at left tackle. The Dolphins took the AFC East title with a 10-6 record. As always, Miami's pass protection was among the best in the NFL, rating in the top quarter of the league with 29 total sacks allowed.

1980 would see Kuechenberg moved back to the left guard position for 16 more starts. After starting the season 3-1, Miami lost their next game, and for the rest of the season stayed withing a game of .500. Their 8-8 record was indicative of a sluggish offense, rated 24th in the NFL in scoring with only 266 points.

In 1981, Kuechenberg appeared in every Miami game, starting nine at left guard. Miami's 11-4-1 record won the AFC East crown by a game over the New York Jets. Miami's offense rated in the middle third of the NFL in almost every category. The only statistic the Dolphins finished in the NFL's top third was rushing touchdowns, with 18.

1982 was shortened to nine games to cope with the player's strike. Kuechenberg started each of them at left guard, returning to the Pro Bowl for the fifth time at the age of 35. Miami's passing offense threw for eight touchdowns against 13 interceptions. The rushing game finished third in the NFL with 1,344 yards gained on a league leading 333 carries. The defense carried the day, as Miami earned a two seed in the expanded 16 team playoff field. Miami outscored their first three opponents with a combined 76-26 score, earning the team their first Super Bowl berth in nine seasons (Kuechenberg's fourth appearance).

In Kuechenberg's final NFL season, 1983, he was honored with his sixth Pro Bowl invitation, appearing in every Dolphin's game and starting 15 at left guard. Miami won the AFC East with a 12-4 record. Miami ranked seventh in the NFL with 389 points scored. The pass protection was the NFL's best, with 23 allowed all season. This allowed Miami's quarterbacking trio of David Woodley, Don Strock, and Dan Marino to combine for an AFC low 11 interceptions.

In 14 seasons on Miami's offensive line, Kuechenberg started 176 games, appearing in 196 overall. He was a six-time Pro Bowler, and later an eight time Hall of Fame finalist (from 2002 through 2009). He was inducted into the Dolphins Ring of Honor in 1995.

Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.