Over the course of his 17-year Hall-of-Fame career, Miami Dolphins’ quarterback Dan Marino had more than his fair share of thrilling comebacks.
Fresh off an Achilles tear that ended his 1993 season, Marino led the Dolphins to a 10-6 record and an AFC East title in 1994. Over the course of that season, Marino led four fourth-quarter comebacks, including one of the more improbable ones on this day 25 years ago.
The Dolphins were 6-2 as they welcomed the Indianapolis Colts to Joe Robbie Stadium on Nov. 6, 1994. With less than four minutes to play, Miami trailed by nine points, but ultimately rallied for a 22-21 victory.
The Miami defense held the Colts to just 213 yards of offense, but midway through the fourth quarter, Marino made a costly mistake. Trailing 14-12, the legendary quarterback was intercepted by Indianapolis’ Ray Buchanan, who returned it 28 yards for a touchdown to make it a 9-point game.
With time working against the Dolphins, Marino marched Miami 83 yards on the ensuing drive in 11 plays. On the drive, Marino was 6-for-7 for 72 yards, capping the march with a 28-yard scoring strike to O.J. McDuffie.
With 3:52 remaining and the Dolphins having two timeouts, down 21-19, it was up to the defense to get the ball back for Marino and the Miami offense. After a pair of Marshall Faulk runs netted four yards for Indianapolis, the Dolphins were able to force Colts’ quarterback Jim Harbaugh into an errant throw.
Rohn Stark got away a 50-yard punt for the Colts, but a 16-yard return from McDuffie set the Dolphins up at their own 42-yard-line. Marino completed five straight passes to open the final drive, moving Miami inside the Indianapolis 25-yard-line. After a 5-yard run from Irving Spikes put the Dolphins inside the 20-yard-line, an incomplete pass from Marino stopped the clock and set the stage for kicker Pete Stoyanovich.
The Colts’ attempt to ice Stoyanovich was failed as the Miami kicker nailed the 34-yard field goal as time expired. The Dolphins had completed the improbable comeback to improve to 7-2.
Marino overcame a pair of interceptions to finish with 261 yards passing in the victory. McDuffie led Miami with 108 yards receiving on seven receptions. Faulk and quarterback Don Majkowski each scored 1-yard rushing touchdowns for the Colts. Faulk finished with 112 yards from scrimmage to lead Indianapolis. Miami’s Bernie Parmalee led all rushers with 81 yards.
Indianapolis would get revenge with a 10-6 win over the Dolphins in Week 16, which would ultimately cost Miami a first-round bye in the playoffs. During the course of the 1994 season for the Dolphins, there were nine games decided by one score. Of the 10 wins for Miami, perhaps the most improbable came on this day 25 years ago.
Mike Ferguson is a contributor for The Grueling Truth, covering Florida sports and sports history. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. To keep up with all of his work, like his Facebook page.