Miami's Marino throwing less but enjoying it more

November 28, 1990|By Craig Dolch | Craig Dolch,Cox News Service

CLEVELAND -- Announcing that Dan Marino has achieved another NFL milestone has been reduced to a routine during his eight-year pro career.

Sort of like telling Donald Trump that another creditor is on the phone.

Marino's latest claim to fame is reaching the 30,000-yard mark faster than any quarterback in NFL history. Marino threw for 245 yards in the Dolphins' 30-13 win over the Browns at Cleveland Stadium Sunday, giving him 30,099 yards, and counting.

Marino required only 114 games to reach the big three-oh-oh-oh-oh, which is 17 less than it took Dan Fouts and 27 less than it took Johnny Unitas. But excuse Marino if he didn't sound ecstatic about earning his 19th NFL record.

"I feel real good about it," Marino said. "But what really makes me happy is those yards helped us win today's game. That's the important thing."

Excuse, too, the Dolphins players and coaches if they didn't seem moved after witnessing another record-setting afternoon by their star quarterback. Eight years is a long time for eyes to remain wide-open or jaws lowered.

"Dan's been something special since he got into the league," Dolphins coach Don Shula said. "It's been one year after another and he's been doing things that no other quarterback has done, so this is no real surprise to me."

But Marino's contributions to the Dolphins' 9-2 record this season cannot be accurately measured in numbers. It's what he's not doing that may be the key to the Dolphins' turnaround season -- not throwing the ball on virtually every down.

Marino entered this season ranked second behind Fouts (51) in 300-yard games, having reached the figure 37 times, an average of once every 2.7 games. But with the season almost three-quarters over, Marino has yet to throw for 300 yards (his highest total was 262 against the New York Jets).

And he's never been happier.

"Sure, everybody misses throwing for 300 and 400 yards," said Marino, who will face the Washington Redskins this Sunday at RFK Stadium. "But today was a perfect example of the way this year has gone. Once we got ahead, we didn't have to throw. I'd rather get the win than the yards."

Marino showed he hadn't lost his touch when he completed six of eight passes for 97 yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter. In any other year, Marino would have been headed for another 300- or 400-yard game.

And the Dolphins might have been headed for another high-scoring loss.

But once the Dolphins built a 14-0 first-quarter lead, Marino was able to become a pitcher instead of a thrower. Instead of playing all the instruments, he merely had to direct the orchestra.

His numbers steadily decreased in the second quarter (5-for-10 for 67 yards), third quarter (3-for-8 for 52 yards) and fourth quarter (2-for-3 for 29 yards), while the Dolphins' lead steadily increased. An argument could be made the two were inversely proportional.

"This is the way you want to win games," Marino said. "Get a big lead early, then sit on the lead by being able to run it."

Marino was asked about his next milestone. Say, reaching 40,000 yards?

"I'm not going to worry about that," he said. "I'd rather concentrate on getting back into the Super Bowl."

Marino paused for a second, realizing he needed to audible his last statement. "I just don't want to get in a Super Bowl either, if you know what I mean."

Obviously, the only numbers Marino is concerned with are Roman.

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