AFC Wild-Card Flashback: Marino exits victorious in showdown

Great players defined by Great Games

A big-time performance in a playoff game is just one unit of measure that helps a player earn a bronze bust in Canton. Our coverage of the 2009 NFL Playoffs includes weekly flashbacks to spectacular games recorded by members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Future Hall of Fame quarterback vs. future Hall of Fame quarterback was the scenario for the 1994 AFC Wild-Card Game played on New Year’s Eve day at (then) Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami. The host Dolphins were led by Dan Marino as they battled the Kansas City Chiefs directed by Joe Montana.

AFC Wild-Card Game Fact
Dan Marino is one of three QBs ever to pass for more than 400 yards in an AFC Wild-Card Game. He threw for 422 yards against the Buffalo Bills in 1995.

Marino and Montana lived up to the pre-game hype that drew a comparison to Johnny Unitas by Hall of Fame coach Don Shula. "John had that same dramatic flair about him,” stated Shula, who began his head coaching career as Unitas’s coach with the Baltimore Colts. “He had a feeling he would always win the football game and he would make the play when it counted. These two guys were the same way."

It ended up that just one play ultimately separated these quarterbacks on this day. A fourth quarter interception by the Dolphins defense thwarted the Chiefs comeback on a day that started in wild fashion. The game opened just as expected as both quarterbacks successfully engineered scoring drives. Marino and Montana led their teams to two touchdowns and a field goal to end a half of non-stop offense tied at 17-17.

But, it was Marino who continued the roll as the second half kicked off. Just one year removed from season-ending torn Achilles tendon, the 33-year-old quarterback seemed to savor the moment and urgently move forward in pursuit of a playoff victory. He orchestrated a six-play, 64-yard drive to open the third quarter and shift the momentum Miami’s way. The Dolphins added a field goal and came away with a 27-17 win to advance to the divisional playoff game.

Fueling the win was Marino’s pinpoint accuracy – 22 out of 29 – despite multiple blitzes by the Chiefs defense throughout the day.

1994 AFC Wild-Card Game (Kansas City at Miami)
Gamebook | Program Cover | Dan Marino HOF Bio

Marino, Dan, Montana, Joe, Unitas, Johnny
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