One little, ok BIG, annoying thing keeps 1984 from being the greatest season in Dolphins history. That big thing of course being one Joe Montana, as he took the sting out of the Killer Bee's. They were never the same after that Super Bowl. But I digress, let's get to the great things about this season, of which there were many.
First off, you could make the argument that in 1984 Miami was the center of the football universe. On January 1st, The U won its first National Title. Marino lead the Dolphins into the playoffs with a division title the year before, as a rookie. Then came what is still the greatest single season by any quarterback in NFL history: 362/564. That's a completion percentage of 64.2! Add to that 5,084 yards (single season record), 48 touchdowns (at the time a record, now third overall), 17 interceptions, and a 108.9 passer rating (10th all time). The important number: 14-2, AFC Champions.
Now I have more arguments for this team being No. 2, but first let me remind members of Team Peyton and Team Brady (and possibly this season Team Brees, Team Schaub, etc) that 1984 didn't have the same rules to benefit offense. There was no Brady Rule, Marino avoided sacks by being quick in the pocket and relying on his offensive line, not by having pass rushers live in fear of committing a penalty and taking dives when the pass rusher grazed his leg (and only got sacked 13 times, Brady in 2007 got sacked 21 times with his vaunted O-line and spread offense, which is actually supposed to get you less sacks, while in 2004 Manning got sacked 13 times like Marino, so there it's a wash).
Secondly, cornerbacks in his day bumped with receivers. Frequently. You had to commit a robbery and a homicide in 1984 to draw a pass interference flag. Now it seems like if you just get within a yard of the intended receiver, the flag comes out.
Now I know Team Peyton and Team Brady will point to the interception stats. Again, different rules.
It wasn't all Marino, though, as would be evidenced between 1986 and 1991 (averages from those years: 321/551 58.2 completion percentage, 4,002 yards, 28 TDs, 18 INTs, and most importantly, because he had to throw the ball so much due to lack of a running game, 8-8, one playoff appearance during that time span).
In 1984, the Dolphins did have a running game. No seriously. There was a solid running game behind the greatest single passing season by a quarterback in NFL history.
As a team, they rushed for 1,918 yards in 484 carries. Now this was more of a running back by committee setup lead by Woddy Bennett (144 attempts, 606 yards, 4.2 yards per carry, and seven touchdowns), Tony Nathan (118 attempts, 555 yards, one TD, 4.7 yards per carry), and Joe Carter (100 attempts, 495 yards, one TD, 5.0 yards per carry). The TD numbers by the Phins' RBs are skewed not just by the number of Marino TDs, but also the fact that in short yardage situations in the Red Zone they called on Fullback Pete Johnson to take it in (nine TDs).
You can't talk about Marino's greatest season without talking about the Marks Brothers. At first I was going to post their numbers separately but you just can't, they'll forever be the Marks Brothers, so I shall post their combined numbers (144 receptions, 2,695 yards, 18.7 yards per catch, 26 TDs, 2,703 all purpose yards).
Then there was Tony Nathan catching passes out of the backfield (61 receptions, 579 yards, 9.5 yards per catch, two TDs, 1,137 all purpose yards), Nat Moore (43 receptions, 573 yards, 13.3 yards per catch, six TDs). If you wanted to build a great offense for that era, this would be the one (with apologies to the Phins RB by committee set up at the time, the RB core could've been improved a little bit. I'm just saying).
Overall this was the No. 1 offense in the NFL in yards and in points.
The Defense gets overshadowed by the horrendous showing in Super Bowl XIX. Walsh, Montana, and the West Coast Offense tore through what would turn out to be an antiquated defense in that game, and the Killer Bees were never the same, as it seemed they got very old very quickly.
However during the season, while they did allow enough yards to only be ranked 19th in a 28-team league, they managed to finish seventh in the league in points allowed, and that combined with the high powered offense allowed them to finish second in point differential. The '84 Dolphins also finished fifth in turnover differential at plus-8.
Unlike in '72, '84 also presents a tougher schedule, with six games against teams with winning records (5-1 against those teams), and the fact that they didn't trail in the playoffs until the second quarter of the Super Bowl (sadly this is where this season went to crap).
It was a season full of promise that was never fulfilled. 26 years later we're still trying to get back to the Super Bowl, and this Super Bowl would be Marino's first and final SB appearance.
However, considering the era and the Super Bowl opponent (a 15-1 San Francisco 49ers team lead by Bill Walsh and Joe Montana that would go on to win two more Super Bowls that decade, while finishing second to the Dolphins in total offense and first in total defense and in point differential) along with the fact that in their two AFC playoff games they outscored Seattle and Pittsburgh 76-38), this team is the No. 2 pick.
They'd beat the '72 Dolphins, but would have their hands full with our No. 1.
Offensive MVP: Dan Marino. Stats already listed, Pro Bowl, All-Pro, 1984 Regular Season MVP.
Defensive MVP: Doug Betters. 14 Sacks.