Dan Marino’s 1984
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Not even George Orwell could have predicted a 1984 like the one experienced in the National Football League.
This season there is a buzz about the potential of not one, not two, but possibly three quarterbacks surpassing the record-breaking aerial yardage by Dan Marino in 1984.
Let's flash back to Marino's memorable season. Marino, in just his second year with the Miami Dolphins, became the first player in league history to throw for 5,000 yards. The big story was Don Shula and Marino had Miami off to a hot start as the team ripped off 11 straight wins to begin the season before an overtime loss to the San Diego Chargers ended their winning streak of 16 straight regular season victories. A week later Marino made history when he threw four TDs in a win over the New York Jets on Monday Night Football to tie the NFL mark of 36 TDs in a season shared at that time by Y.A. Tittle and George Blanda.
He continued to fire touchdown passes (he finished with a then-record 48) but much of the focus turned to whether he set the record for passing yards in a season. He took aim at Dan Fouts' 1981 total of 4,802 but then it became apparent that he might just keep going. Could Marino become the first player in history to throw an unfathomable 5,000 yards? He finished the season with a flurry. Not only did he throw 4 TDs in each of the Dolphins' last three games but he eclipsed the 400-yard mark twice in that span including a season-high 470 yards against the Raiders in Week 14. He closed out the year by throwing for 340 yards in the finale against the Dallas Cowboys that allowed him to eclipse the 5k-mark.
There wasn't another 5,000-yard passer until 2008 when Drew Brees came within 16 yards of Marino's long-standing record. It'll be interesting to see if can withstand the threat again in 2011. While much of the discussion today is about how the game is built for passing, that wasn't necessarily the case a quarter century ago. Despite Marino's hefty total, no one could argue that the league had catered to the passing game. That's because another second-year player and future Hall of Famer was busy with his assault on the single-season rushing record. Eric Dickerson set the record by totaling 2,105 yards on the ground that season. And, unlike Marino's staggering number, his record remains safe in 2011.
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