Miami Dolphins at 50: Top 10 Games

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No. 3 – 1984 AFC Championship Game: Miami Dolphins vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Jan. 6, 1985

The kid from Pittsburgh, who shattered NFL passing records and guided the Miami Dolphins to their best offensive season in their history, needed to go through his hometown team to get to his first – and ultimately only – Super Bowl.

The Dolphins were the cream of the crop in 1984. They went 14-2 and seemingly no one could stop the high-powered offense led by second year quarterback Dan Marino.

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The Steelers made the playoffs because no one else in the AFC North was even slightly over .500. They finished two games back of the lowest seeded wild card team, the 11-5 L.A. Raiders, at 9-7. However, the Steelers defeated the Denver Broncos to earn their way to the title game.

Early on, Steelers quarterback Mark Malone put his offense in striking distance. Therefore he went for a long ball in the endzone. His attempt was picked off by William Judson, who returned it to the 33.

Marino took advantage of the turnover by capping off the Dolphins first possession with a 40-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Mark Clayton.

It appeared Miami was going to blow the game open early as Steelers fullback Frank Pollard fumbled on their first play after the touchdown. The fumble was recovered by Doug Betters and put the Dolphins offense on the Pittsburgh 31. But the offense went three and out and Uwe von Schamann missed a 53-yard field goal.

Pittsburgh took advantage of the blown opportunity by tying the game at seven with a seven-yard Rich Erenberg touchdown with just over three minutes left in the opening quarter.

However, Miami breaking open the game wasn’t canceled just merely delayed.

The Dolphins exploded in the second and third quarters by scoring 31 points in the two periods.

Marino connected with Mark Duper, who left the game during the second drive with an injury, for two long touchdowns (one for 41 yards and the other for 36). Tony Nathan and Woody Bennett added two short touchdown runs to round out the bulk of the Miami scoring.

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  • Marino connected with Nat Moore to add his fourth touchdown pass of the day to make the score 45-21. Pittsburgh scored one more touchdown to complete the game as Miami advanced to the Super Bowl for the second time in three season by a 45-28 score.

    Marino threw for 421 yards, four touchdowns and one pick. Duper caught 5 passes for 148 yards and two touchdowns, Clayton got 95 yards on four receptions with one score, and Nathan collected 178 total yards on 27 touches with one rushing TD.

    The offensive outburst was crucial as the Killer B’s had a dreadful day attempting to stop Malone and the Steelers offense. Malone threw for 312 yards while the Steelers rushed for 143 yards. Fortunately, Marino and the Dolphins outgained Malone and the Steelers 569 to 455.

    Miami wouldn’t have a similar luck in the Super Bowl against the San Francisco 49ers as Joe Montana and the Niners ground game did whatever they liked against the Killer B’s while Marino received little ground support yet threw for 318 yards, but two picks.

    However, Marino showcased just how good he was and how good he was going to be in this game. Redefining the passing offense and guiding the team to Super Bowl.

    The Dolphins haven’t been back to the big game since.