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Did He Pass? Did He Ever. Give Him An 'A'
Paul Zimmerman
September 10, 1984
The Dolphins' Dan Marino nearly got the max in the NFL quarterback ratings during a 35-17 rout of the Redskins
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September 10, 1984

Did He Pass? Did He Ever. Give Him An 'a'

The Dolphins' Dan Marino nearly got the max in the NFL quarterback ratings during a 35-17 rout of the Redskins

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A few of the Skins' defensive people said Anthony Washington had played it wrong: He should've run with Duper a little longer before he passed him off. Free safety Mark Murphy felt the problem was more basic. Blackboard stuff. "It seemed like it was one of those days where whatever we did, they were always one step ahead of us," he said.

But give Marino credit. He laid the ball in perfectly. The pass fluttered a little; it wasn't pretty. But it caught Duper at exactly the right time at the right spot. And give the Dolphins' offensive line credit, too. A quarterback doesn't wind up with the stats Marino had (his 21 completions produced 311 yards) unless he's getting time to throw. Marino wasn't sacked once by a unit that ranked sixth in the NFL in that department last year.

Anthony Washington got some heavy booing from Redskin fans after Duper's 74-yarder, but it was nothing compared to the noise they let out when he played it very loose—10 yards off—on his next coverage and Clayton caught a 20-yarder on him, and on the two after that, when Duper burned him for 46 on a post pattern and then, on a little turn-out and juke move, turned a short gain into a 17-yarder.

"They were covering Duper man-to-man. I couldn't believe it," said Miami backup quarterback Don Strock, who stands next to Shula on the sidelines. "After the season he had last year, I didn't think Mark would see any single coverage this year. Our people didn't, either. All week in practice they were preparing him for double coverage, jamming him this way, funneling him that way. Then we get in the game and they try to cover him with one guy. Hey, I wouldn't like to be that guy."

Whatever the Skins were doing, they gave Duper one of the big days in his career—six catches for 178 yards and two TDs. And the game saw the birth of another Dolphin star, Jim Jensen, nicknamed Crash. This was the unknown element, Shula's replacement for the injured Tommy Vigorito, the utility guy who lines up everywhere but hurts you most with his pass catching.

Crash began life as a quarterback. He set all sorts of school records at Boston University, and to show their appreciation the Dolphins drafted him in the 11th round three years ago and told him the third-string job was his if he could beat out New Mexico's Brad Wright, whom they had drafted as a fourth-rounder. Jensen made it. He was 6'4", 215 pounds, and he liked to hit people. He made the team by running downfield under kickoffs and...well, that's how he got to be called Crash.

In three years Jensen's tackle and assist totals outnumbered his passes thrown by 22 to 1. This year Shula decided he'd be a receiver, sometimes lined up wide, sometimes in tight, where the linebackers live. "Some people might call him a second tight end, or U-Back," Shula said Sunday. "We call him a double wing."

So Crash Jensen, playing a position named after a Pop Warner formation, started against the Redskins. He was Shula's surprise starter. Even Jensen didn't know beforehand that he'd be starting. Sometimes he stayed inside and blocked the linebackers ("I need work on that phase of the game"). Sometimes he split out wide—and that's where he did his damage.

Tony Peters, the safety who'd been in the Pro Bowl two years ago but sat out '83 because of a drug-related suspension imposed by Pete Rozelle, had man-to-man coverage on Jensen and got burned on quick slants, an almost impossible coverage without inside help. Jensen finished with five catches for 40 yards, four of them, including two second-half TDs, on quick-I's, or inside moves.

"We didn't expect those quick inside passes," said Peters. "We worked on stopping the outs. Miami had shown that all preseason. It messes you up from a psychological standpoint. In your subconscious you're thinking, 'This guy's going in, but he's got to go back out.' I'd bet the house they were going to do certain things. Well, I just lost the house."

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