It's hard to believe this year marked the 30th anniversary of the last time the Miami Dolphins appeared in a Super Bowl, but here we are, three decades later. In 1984, Dan Marino punted just about every NFL record into the sun on his way to leading the Dolphins to a 14-2 record, an AFC Championship, and a trip to Super Bowl XIX to face off against Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers. The Dolphins would lose 38-16 in the big game, but it was assumed the Fins would be back in no time with a QB like Marino. Nope. Not since.
We sit here 30 years later wondering how it all went wrong and how Marino never got back to the Super Bowl. It's depressing to even think about.
What isn't depressing to think about is Marino's 1984 season. To this day, that season is the greatest a quarterback has ever had, Peyton Manning be damned.
Here is why, 30 years later, it still doesn't get any better than Dan Marino's 1984.
5. Marino threw a then-NFL-record 48 touchdowns in 1984, 16 more than anyone else that year.
It's one thing to win a passing title; it's a completely different thing to throw 16 more touchdown passes than Seattle's Dave Krieg (32) had that season. That stat shows what a completely different level Marino was on in 1984. Marino also won the passing-yards title, by 470 yards, and had a 108.9 passer rating -- a full six points better than the quarterback he would face in the Super Bowl, Joe Montana.
What made Marino's 48 TD passes in 1984 that much more absurd at the time was that the previous record was 36. Dan Marino was a baaaaaad man in 1984.
4. Marino was only 22 years old when his historic 1984 season began.
Ryan Tannehill has took some promising steps in 2014. He looked the part of a quality NFL QB more often than not at times last season, but he's now entering his fourth year. Marino's 1984 campaign was his second year, and he didn't even play his entire rookie year -- that's ridiculous to consider in comparison to the way quarterbacks are judged in today's NFL. Quarterbacks nowadays are given third and fourth chances, sometimes a year, to sit on the bench to learn and are handled with kid gloves the entire time.
3. The Dolphins' leading rusher in 1984 was a fullback named Woody.
In 1984, the Dolphins' leading rusher was fullback Woody Bennett. He had 606 yards, which comes out to an average of 37.8 yards a game -- not exactly keeping defenses guessing, those 1984 Fins. The Dolphins did have three backs who had at least 495 yards that year, but even when you put them all together, you still have an offense that was completely predictable. Defenses basically knew Marino would drop back every play, and they still couldn't stop him -- making his 1984 performance just that much more impressive.
2. Marino might have thrown for 70 touchdowns and 6,000 yards if defenses had played by the same NFL rules they do today; just ask him.
You heard the man -- he would have wrecked the NFL's entire ass back in his day if defenses were restricted as much as they are in today's NFL. He would have been a human cheat code. Early in Marino's career, defenses had one goal: Do things to the other team's QB that would get you jail time off the field. Wide receivers were grabbed the entire way down the field. That was just football back then. Now, if you touch a guy after five yards, it's considered cheating, and Marino would have feasted every week and possibly ruined football for everyone else.
Nowadays, a guy like Peyton Manning or Drew Brees might make Marino's records look totally human, but these guys are playing a completely different sport from the one Dan was dominating in 1984.
1. Marino did in 1984 what he basically did his entire career: carried an entire team farther than any other QB could have.
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Marino played with a 1,000-yard rusher only once during his 17 seasons and with a top-10 defense only four times -- he basically was the Dolphins his entire career. Most observers will point to Mark Clayton and Mark Duper as play-makers Marino had on offense, but that was really it in 1984 and beyond. The only wideouts to make the Pro Bowl with the Dolphins during Marino's career were Clayton, Duper, and Irving Fryar -- that's it. You would think a guy who broke every record known to man would pull some guys along with him for some awards, but nope, just league average on both sides of the ball -- and a lot of the times the Fins were dreadful around him.
Marino finished his career with 61,361 yards, 420 touchdown passes, 252 interceptions, and a quarterback rating of 86.4, but what will be remembered most is his 1984 season, the best season any quarterback has ever had.