The Super Bowl is just 33 days away. Let’s look at the Super Bowl from 33 years ago to honor this not that significant occasion!
Palo Alto’s Stanford Stadium hosted Super Bowl XIX on January 20, 1985. The game pitted the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers against the Miami Dolphins of the American Football Conference. 1984 was an epic season for the NFL by any standard. Washington’s Art Monk broke the receptions record. Eric Dickerson of the Rams broke the single-season rushing record. Dan Marino seemed to break every passing record imaginable. And, the 49ers came three points away from a perfect season.
San Francisco 49ers 33 Years Ago
Where the Dolphins were a great passing team and nothing else, San Francisco was a great passing team and everything else. The 49ers were 2nd in points scored and 1st in points allowed. There is no better recipe for success in any sport than that statistic. They were led, of course, by their fabulous quarterback, Joe Montana. Montana was almost the perfect football player. He was accurate. He was a solid scrambler. Montana could hit the deep ball. He was cerebral. He was a joy to watch perform.
Coach Walsh surrounded his terrific QB with a solid running game. Wendell Tyler rushed for over 1200 yards averaging 5 yards per carry. Roger Craig was an innovation at halfback. He would substitute for Tyler on third downs. The Roger Craig-type is on every team in the NFL in 2017. But, he was the first of his kind and one of the best.
San Francisco’s defensive backfield has ridiculous skills at every spot. Ronnie Lott was arguably the best safety ever to play in the NFL. They had a super front line and solid linebackers. This was truly a team without weakness; one of the ten best teams in NFL history. They completed the 1984 regular season with a then-record 15 victories. In the playoffs, they were workmanlike in defeating the upstart Giants and Bears, 21-10 and 23-0 respectively.
Miami Dolphins 33 Years Ago
There was nothing workmanlike about Miami’s 1984 regular season. Their offense was way ahead of its time and, frankly, Marino was the best quarterback we had ever seen up to that point. His receivers were the uber-talented Mark Duper and Mark Clayton. They combined for 144 catches for 2700 yards! Clayton score a then-record 18 times. These numbers don’t sound extraordinary by today’s standards. But, by 1984 standards, they were off the charts. Marino, Clayton and Duper played together for about a decade, but 1984 was their climax.
In the playoffs, Miami got revenge on the Seahawks for their 1983 upset. In the championship game, Miami only had to face 9-7 Pittsburgh. The Steelers had shocked 13-3 Denver in the divisional round, a foreshadow of things to come for John Elway in the 80’s. Pittsburgh was no match for Miami’s powerful offense, losing 45-28.
Marino Shut Down
The Super Bowl started off in competitive fashion. Miami took a 10-7 lead late in the first quarter on a short TD pass from Marino on the roll to tight end Dan Johnson. However, the Niners responded with a three-touchdown explosion. Meanwhile, Miami went three-and-out an astonishing three times. The score was 28-10 late in the first half. The Dolphins got two late field goals to move within 12 points at the break and nobody felt the game was over at that point.
But, Miami came out of the break with more three-and-outs. Marino also threw two red zone picks. Hence, the Dolphins did not score in the second half. Craig, on the other hand, scored three times in the game himself for the Niners! And, San Francisco won the Super Bowl, 38-16.
The Niners have the reputation for being the team of the ’80s. However, they did not reach the Super Bowl again until 1988. But, they won it that season and in 1989. Miami’s Super Bowl XIX appearance was its fifth and last. They have suffered through three decades of mediocrity since then.
Tomorrow, we’ll talk about the phenomenal 1985 Chicago Bears!
Brandon Fazzolari is a Super Bowl expert…@spot_Bills