Dan Marino stayed upright all day and reached an unprecedented milestone.
Marino threw three touchdown passes to O.J. McDuffie, becoming the first player in NFL history to reach 400 career TD passes, as the Miami Dolphins routed the New Orleans Saints 30-10 Sunday.
Marino hit McDuffie with a 22-yard scoring pass late in the second quarter, then reached the milestone with a 7-yard TD toss to McDuffie on the first play of the fourth quarter. They hooked up again on a 9-yard TD pass with 7:34 left as the Dolphins (8-4) remained tied for first in the AFC East with the New York Jets.
"Four hundred touchdown passes is a lot of touchdown passes," said Marino, who has 59 three-TD outings in his career. "But winning games is the most important thing."
It was Marino's first three-touchdown performance of the season, as coach Jimmy Johnson has placed greater emphasis on the run this year. He completed 22 of 40 passes for 255 yards and was intercepted once, a 79-yard return for a TD by Rob Kelly.
Miami's offensive line, with two backups protecting Marino's blind side, held the Saints without a sack for the first time in 61 games, ending the third-longest streak in NFL history. Left tackle Brent Smith and left guard John Bock started in place of seven-time Pro Bowler Richmond Webb and Mark Dixon.
"After practice Friday, I said the result of the ballgame would depend on how the offensive line plays," Johnson said. "I called each one of them out by name and said we'll win or lose the ballgame depending on how you play."
Olindo Mare added three field goals as the Dolphins rebounded strongly from a heartbreaking loss to New England last Monday. Miami lost that game 26-23 when Shawn Jefferson caught a TD pass from Drew Bledsoe with 29 seconds left.
Doug Brien kicked a 43-yard field goal for the Saints (5-7), who lost for the seventh time in their past nine games.
| Dan Marino is the only NFL player to throw 400 touchdown passes. (AP) |
"That is the most pathetic exhibition of football I have ever seen," New Orleans coach Mike Ditka said. "Defense was horrible, offense was horrible and special teams weren't any better. What else can I say? We were outcoached and we were outplayed."
Kerry Collins, making his third start since joining the Saints from Carolina, completed just 9 of 24 passes for 110 yards and was intercepted three times. He also finished as the team's leading rusher for the third time, with 35 yards on five carries.
"The quarterback can't be your leading rusher three weeks in a row," Collins said. "This is a team game and we all have to play better."
After a slow start, the Dolphins scored on their final two drives of the first half for a 13-10 halftime lead.
Kelly had put New Orleans in front 10-3 with his interception return, aided in part when Oronde Gadsden ran into umpire Neil Gereb on a crossing pattern. Kelly plucked the ball off his shoetops, cut to the left sideline and ran untouched to the end zone.
Miami countered with a 70-yard march that ended with McDuffie's 22-yard scoring reception. McDuffie caught the ball on a crossing pattern at the 15 and hurdled a defender on his way to the end zone.
Sam Madison then intercepted Collins on the Saints' first play after the kickoff, giving Miami possession at the New Orleans 45. Eight plays later, Mare kicked a 32-yard field goal for a 13-10 lead.
Mare's 34-yard field goal pushed the lead to 16-10 before Marino reached his unprecedented milestone. Facing second-and-goal from the Saints 7, he hit McDuffie along the right sideline and McDuffistretched the ball over the goal line.
The duo hooked up one more time on Miami's next possession, McDuffie catching a bullet in the back of the end zone for a 30-10 advantage.
Brien kicked a 43-yard field goal in the first quarter for New Orleans, but Mare countered with a 27-yarder four plays into the second to tie it 3-3.
NotesMcDuffie became the first Dolphin to catch three TD passes in a game since Mark Ingram , who had four against the New York Jets on Nov. 27, 1994. He also recorded his sixth career 100-yard receiving game and extended his streak of consecutive games with a catch to 58.
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