December 2, 1984
The Raiders special teams goes up to try to block the kick.
The Miami Dolphins under Head Coach Don Shula were tough to beat. The Miami Dolphins at home in the Orange Bowl were extremely tough to beat. And the Miami Dolphins with Dan Marino at quarterback were nearly impossible to beat.
On Sunday afternoon December 2, 1984, in the muggy confines of the aging Orange Bowl, Marino fired more productively than any quarterback the Raiders had faced in their 25-year history.
Marino, only in his second NFL season, completed 35 of 57 pass attempts that afternoon for 470 yards, the most ever allowed through passing by the Raiders since the franchise first fielded a team in 1960. Not even Pro Football Hall of Fame members like Roger Staubach, Joe Namath, Lenny Dawson, Fran Tarkenton, Jonny Unitas, Dan Fouts, Terry Bradshaw or other great pro passers had reached that mark.
Despite Marino’s domination that Sunday, the 1984 Raiders- defending World Champions of Professional Football- beat the Dolphins by 11 points, 45 to 34. This classic shootout saw a total of 48 first downs, 919 yards of offense, 711 yards on pass receptions on 81 passes thrown, 137 yards in penalties, 79 points scored and four scoring plays of over 50 yards each. The game also included a heroic goal–line stand, two players with 100-yard individual pass reception games, a 100-yard rushing game, a 100-yard interception game, multiple quarterback sacks, big hits and all the trimmings of the year’s best television game.
As the featured NBC Sports game of the day, kickoff time had been set back to 4 p.m. on a humid, windy 80-degree afternoon in Miami to be the second game of the TV doubleheader on both coasts. The Raiders won the coin toss and chose to receive.
QB Marc Wilson gets ready to take the snap at the line of scrimmage.
On the very first play, Raiders QB Marc Wilson tossed an eight-yard pass to HB Kenny King. Three hours and 43 minutes later Wilson would bring the AFC showcase to a close by kneeling on one knee to run out the clock.
After the first punt, the Dolphins took over on their own 35. Marino started a march by completing passes to his talented WRs Mark Clayton and Mark Duper. Then, with a third-and-goal from the Raider three, he threw for Duper in the left flat and found Raiders CB Mike Haynes there instead.
Haynes picked off the pass at the three, juked once, headed down the right sideline, picked up an escort from S Mike Davis and sped a Raiders-record 97 yards with the interception to put the Raiders on the scoreboard first, 7-0.
Marino came out firing on Miami’s next possession. Six completions later, he hit Jimmy Cefalo on the left edge of the end zone from four yards out to tie the score. With this touchdown pass, the brilliant former University of Pittsburgh star had set a new NFL record. In only his second pro season, and his first full season as a starter, Marino had now thrown his 37th touchdown pass in one season and still had over 47 minutes to play in this game plus two more games left on the 1984 league schedule.
A 47-yard strike from Wilson to WR Dokie Williams quickly propelled the Raiders down the field. A fumble ended the drive as the first quarter ended.
In the second quarter, an interception return gave Miami the ball on the Raiders six, and a six-yard burst by Tony Nathan put Miami ahead by six as big DE Sean Jones blocked the extra-point kick. The scoreboard now read: Dolphins 13 - Raiders 7.
A 42-yard kickoff return by Cle Montgomery put the Raiders back in business. Wilson rolled right and hit WR Malcolm Barnwell along that sideline for 19 yards. Marcus Allen swept left for 15. Then Wilson passed to Allen for 10 yards down to the Miami 11-yard line. Allen then popped thru blocks by RG Mickey Marvin and RT Henry Lawrence to put the Raiders back on top, 14 - 13. Later in the second quarter, the Raiders pulled ahead, 17-13 on a Chris Bahr 44-yard field goal.
The Dolphins then began a march downfield with three minutes left in the half. A pass interference penalty kept the drive alive. Another interference call put Miami on the Raiders one-yard line with 45 seconds to play. Big Pete Johnson pounded over the left guard on first-and-goal, but Lyle Alzado stopped him dead in his tracks. Next, Johnson went right and a group of Raiders defenders, led by CB Lester Hayes, rose up and stopped him just inside the one. Finally, with nine seconds left, Miami Head Coach Don Shula called his last time out to review his options. Disdaining the field goal, Coach Shula chose to go for the touchdown and the halftime lead. Woody Bennett powered into the pole behind his left tackle and went absolutely nowhere. Davis, Howie Long and a wild bunch in Silver and Black would not allow the score. As the half ended, Miami was still one foot from the goal line, and the Raiders were still ahead, 17-13.
On the Raiders first second-half possession, a pair of Wilson passes to TE Todd Christensen and runs by King and Frank Hawkins put the ball in close. A pass to TE Dave Casper from seven yards out added seven points, Raiders 24 - Dolphins 13.
The Raiders running backs get the offense rolling.
Just five minutes later, the Dolphins closed the gap to four points as Marino went deep to Clayton for 64 yards and the score. Clayton fumbled the ball while running all alone in the clear, but the ball bounced right back to him, and he continued in stride for the touchdown. On their next possession, Miami took the lead temporarily when Marino finished an 83-yard march with a 10-yard scoring toss to Clayton along the right sideline.
The final quarter would open with Miami ahead 27-24. But Head Coach Tom Flores and his tough band of Raiders were ready for the go-ahead drive.
With 9:07 left, the Raiders took over on their own 25. One play was all it took to cover the 75 yards ahead. Wilson scrambled to his right to avoid a rush, fired on the move down the right sideline to a flying Williams, who went untouched for the score. The Raiders were back on top for good, 31 to 27.
DT Bill Pickel got a quarterback sack on the next Miami possession and then Haynes recorded his second pass interception, returning it 54 yards down the right sideline to the Dolphins 10-yard line. Three plays later, Allen took a pitchout wide right for six yards and the touchdown putting the Raiders up 38 to 27.
Miami never quit. Despite defensive pressure from Long, Alzado, Sean Jones, Reggie Kinlaw, Pickel, Greg Townsend and others, Marino threw and threw and threw some more. A nine-yard pass to Duper again cut the Raiders lead to just four points, 38-34.
Raiders DB Odis McKiney recovered the Miami on-sides kickoff attempt on the Raiders 44 with 2:09 left on the game clock. After Hawkins gained three inside, the two-minute warning stopped the clock. When time resumed, Allen was held to a one-yard gain sweeping right, and Miami took its first time out with 1:52 left. With two time outs remaining, the Dolphins could get the ball back if they stopped the Raiders on the third-and-six at the Raider 48. But the Raiders showed the Dolphins, the sold-out Orange Bowl crowd and the huge national television audience that this night they could not be stopped. Allen took the handoff from Wilson, started right, cut back behind his tackle, leaped over a defender and headed for the goal line. Fifty-two yards later, Allen had his third touchdown of the game and the Raiders had their tenth win of the 1984 season. Coach Flores was now 5-0 in games against Coach Shula.
A tired, weary, but proud band of Raiders had learned firsthand why Marino would one day be a Pro Football Hall of Fame candidate. And a television audience of over 40 million had again learned to respect the Raiders. Home or away, these warriors in Silver and Black continually defied the odds to remain professional sports’ winningest team.