For today's Throwback Thursday moment presented by
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Redskins cornerback Mike Bass and Dolphins kicker Garo Yepremian will be forever linked in Super Bowl lore.
That's because of the bizarre sequence in Super Bowl VII on Jan. 14, 1973, when Yepremian clumsily batted the ball in the air after a blocked field goal, and Bass caught it and ran 49 yards for a touchdown.
The score cut Miami's lead to seven with two minutes to play. But the Dolphins held on for a 14-7 victory.
Bass and Yepremian were connected in another way, too. They were good friends at the time and remained so for many years. Yepremian, a member of the NFL 1970s All-Decade team, passed away in 2015.
"Garo was a great kicker and a great friend of mine," Bass said in a recent interview. "I miss him because we would speak two, three, four times a year. We also did a number of speaking engagements and appearances together over the years."
The two built a bond while they were teammates on the Lions in 1967. Bass remembers that the 5-8, 175-pound Yepremian, a native of the Mediterranean island-country of Cyprus, faced a series of obstacles.
"He came to the U.S. when Cyprus was in the midst of some sort of civil war," Bass said. "Also, he wasn't tall in stature. When we were in Detroit, he was made fun of by some of the older players at the time like (defensive tackle) Alex Karras. We left Detroit the same year. I was able to get out of there and get to Washington in 1969, and he was able to get to Miami. It was the worst place we'd ever been, and we were both very glad to get out of there."
By the time Bass and Yepremian met up again in Super Bowl VII in the Los Angeles Coliseum, the Redskins were seeking their first NFL championship since 1942. The Dolphins were trying to cap an undefeated season and post their first NFL title since they were founded in 1966.
With time running out, Yepremian tried a 42-yard field goal with Earl Morrall holding that would ice the game. But his low kick hit the helmet of Dolphins lineman Bob Heinz and bounced back. Yepremian scooped up the ball and made a feeble attempt to throw a pass, then batted it upward like a volleyball. Bass plucked it out of the air on the Dolphins' 49 and took off down the sideline.
"The one thing that crossed my mind after getting the ball is that I can't let Gary Yepremian or even Earl Morrall tackle me," Bass recalled. "I'd never hear the end of it from the players on my team. And it was just a blur, but I had scored a couple of other touchdowns on interceptions or fumble recoveries of one sort or another. So I just needed to get to the end zone as fast as I could. I was lucky enough to do just that."
Yepremian had an angle on Bass around the 30. But Bass outran him easily and scored, creating a 14-7 game with 2:07 left.
One of the ironies of that "kooky" play, as TV play-by-play man Curt Gowdy described it, is that it will forever remain a moment of infamy in Yepremian's otherwise brilliant career. Bass, who played nine seasons, including seven in D.C., and is one of the 80 Greatest Redskins, sits in relative obscurity as the player who scored the touchdown because the Redskins ended up losing.
Bass didn't approach Yepremian after the game to congratulate him. "We lost, and as a pro coming in second is not one of the greatest highlights of your career," he said.