Greg Cote

Marino was ahead of the curve, when Fins in playoffs was expected

Dan Marino celebrates after handing off for the game-winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter of the AFC Wild Card game against the Seattle Seahawks on Jan. 9, 2000.
Dan Marino celebrates after handing off for the game-winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter of the AFC Wild Card game against the Seattle Seahawks on Jan. 9, 2000. Miami Herald Staff

Remember when the Dolphins making the playoffs was expected and not a novelty? As fans celebrate the club’s first playoff season since 2008, the franchise on Sunday will honor the quarterback who led Miami into the postseason 10 times in his 17 years.

Dan Marino will be one of six Dolphins Hall of Famers honored in a ring ceremony at halftime of the regular-season finale vs. New England. That makes this is a good time to appreciate, again, what made Marino so ahead-of-his time special.

Former Miami Dolphins quarterback and Hall of Famer Dan Marino speaks with Miami Herald sportswriter Adam H. Beasley to reflect on his career and legacy on the eve of the team's 50th season. Video by Jose A. Iglesias and Justin Azpiazu / Miami Her

Consider: Marino in 1984 became the first NFL quarterback to top 5,000 yards in one season, after which there was a near-quarter-century gap until anybody (Drew Brees in 2008) did it again. The club Marino created remains exclusive, with Brees, Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford and Peyton Manning the only other members.

READ: Look back on 50 years of Dolphins football

Now consider: Marino, also in 1984 and then again in ’86, became the first QB ever to top 40 touchdown passes in a season, after which there was a 15-year gap until anybody else (Kurt Warner in 1999) matched the accomplishment. To this day only six men have met the TD standard Miami’s No. 13 first did more than 30 years earlier.

Prolific passing has come to define the NFL game since 2000.

Two decades earlier, Dan Marino invented it.

THIS AND THAT

▪ Dolphin Jay Ajayi’s 420 rushing yards in two games vs. Buffalo this season is fourth-most by one back vs. one team in a season, after Jamal Lewis’ 500 vs. Browns in 2003; O.J. Simpson’s 469 vs. Patriots in 1973; and LaDainian Tomlinson’s 430 vs. Raiders in 2003.

▪ Patriots’ sixth season of at least 13 wins tied Broncos for second-most behind 49ers’ nine. Same day, Bill Belichick became fifth coach to reach 200 NFL wins with one franchise, after George Halas’ 318 with Chicago, Don Shula’s 257/Miami, Tom Landry’s 250/Dallas and Curly Lambeau’s 209/Green Bay.

▪ Oh, and Tom Brady’s 25-2 TD/interception ratio is second-best ever for a season (minimum 20 TDs), trailing only Nick Foles’ 27-2 in 2013. Foles is currently a Walmart greeter. Just kiddin’. He’s the Chiefs’ backup.

▪ Falcons’ Matt Ryan has thrown a TD pass to 13 receivers this year, an NFL single-season record.

▪ Cardinals’ David Johnson became fourth player with at least 1,200 rushing and 800 receiving yards in a season, after Marshall Faulk (1998-2000), Steven Jackson (2006) and Le’Veon Bell (2014).

▪ Packers’ Aaron Rodgers became the fourth QB with at least 35,000 career passing yards and 2,500 rushing. Others are Fran Tarkenton, John Elway and Donovan McNabb.

▪ Dallas’ 4-12 to 13-2 turnaround marks the 13th time in past 14 seasons a team has gone from last in division (or tied) to division title.

▪ Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger became 10th man to 300 TD passes. He's fifth among actives, after Drew Brees' 463, Tom Brady's 453, Eli Manning's 320 and Philip Rivers' 312. And Pittsburgh teammate Le'Veon Bell is averaging 157 scrimmage yards per game, on pace for third most ever. Record is 163.4 by Priest Holmes in 2002.

▪ Jaguars' Blake Bortles and Marqise Lee last week became first teammates ever to throw TD passes of at least 20 yards to each other in same game. So at least that went right for Jax this year.

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