Zimpher: There Were Concerns About Marino Heading Into 1994

Dan Marino, who was coming off a torn Achilles, silenced all doubters in Week 1 of the '94 season

The DA Show
May 14, 2020 - 11:26 am
Dan Marino Dolphins

USA Today Images


The Miami Dolphins entered the 1994 season unsure of how good they could be. After all, Dan Marino was coming off a torn Achilles. The Dolphins started 6-1 and 9-2 in 1993 before losing their final five games of the season to finish 9-7.

Thus, there was much consternation heading into ’94.

“Yeah, going into the season, there were those concerns, saying, ‘We’re not sure. We’re not sure if Dan is ever going to be the same as he was last year,’” former Dolphins voice Bill Zimpher said on The DA Show. “At that point, you’re talking early ’90s, Dan Marino – even though he had some physical issues; knees didn’t move the way he once did – he still was a weapon. But there were those questions, whether he would ever be the same. But as we progressed through the ’94 season, we found out that Dan Marino could still sling it.”

The Dolphins learned that in Week 1, as Marino threw for 473 yards and five touchdowns in a 39-35 win over the Patriots. It was a classic shootout, as Drew Bledsoe threw for 421 yards and four touchdowns for New England.

Miami started 7-2 and finished 10-6, eventually beating Joe Montana and the Chiefs, 27-17, in the AFC Wild Card.

“At that point, once we got into the late stages of the ’94 season, there was actually a thought that we would have a shot to get to the Super Bowl,” Zimpher said. “There were some exciting games that year for sure, and that first game [against the Patriots] gave us an indication that this was a team that this was a team that could score points.”

The Dolphins wound up losing to the Chargers, 22-21, in the divisional round. The Chargers beat the Steelers in the AFC Championship to reach the Super Bowl, ultimately losing 49-26 to the 49ers.

Zimpher, though, will never forget the shootout with the Patriots in Week 1.

“I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “This actually was my first year as the play-by-play voice of the Dolphins. I went to Miami [after] doing football for Penn State, where Joe Paterno preached defense, special teams, offense – in that order. So to see this type of up-and-down, down-the-field, I was exhausted by the end of the day, just seeing all of that action taking place."