INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Hartline's Touchdown Is A Grand Milestone

Posted Sep 13, 2013

Dolphins reach 1,000 touchdown passes milestone in season-opening win in Cleveland.

When Brian Hartline got behind the secondary and caught a touchdown pass in the third quarter of the season opener Sunday at Cleveland, it truly was a grand occasion.

Not only did Hartline score Miami’s first touchdown of the 2013 season with that 34-yard reception, he was on the receiving end of the 1,000th TD pass in franchise history.

A total of 43 different players have thrown those 1,000 touchdown passes for the Dolphins, a figure that includes six non-quarterbacks — Ronnie Brown, Jim Jensen, Keith Byars, Mark Clayton, Terry Kirby and Tony Nathan. Brown and Jensen each threw two apiece, while the other four had one TD pass each.

Among the quarterbacks, obviously Dan Marino is by far and away the leader, with 420 career touchdown passes. With this total, he alone has accounted for exactly 42 percent of the Dolphins’ touchdown passes. Together, Marino and Bob Griese (192) have combined for 612 of the 1,000 (or 61.2 percent).

Among receivers, it’s Mark Clayton (81) and Nat Moore (74) who stand out the most. They lead the 133 different players who caught touchdown passes for the Dolphins, a list that includes defensive end Vern Den Herder and quarterback David Woodley.

Den Herder caught a touchdown pass from Don Strock in a 1978 game against Baltimore, while Woodley was on the receiving of a TD pass from Tony Nathan in the 1982 season opener at Shea Stadium against the New York Jets. Nathan’s touchdown pass was the first in team history not thrown by a quarterback.

The following season, Clayton repeated the feat when he threw a 48-yard touchdown pass to the other half of the Marks Brothers, Mark Duper, in the 38-35 overtime loss against the Buffalo Bills in Marino’s first NFL start.

Woodley, Nathan and Clayton are among the seven players to have thrown and caught touchdown pass for the Dolphins, along with Brown, Jensen, Byars and Kirby.

The Dolphins reached 900 touchdown passes in franchise history late in the 2006 season when Joey Harrington connected with Marty Booker on a 32-yard score in a 21-0 victory against the New England on Dec. 10.

The very first touchdown pass in franchise history came in the very first game when Rick Norton connected with fullback Rick Casares for a 2-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter of the Dolphins’ 23-14 loss against the Oakland Raiders. The other score for Miami that night, of course, came on Joe Auer’s kickoff return for a touchdown to start the game.

Ironically, it would be the only touchdown Casares, a former University of Florida player who was in his 12th season of professional football, would score for the Dolphins.

Through the years, the Dolphins have maintained a steady pace of about 100 TD passes every five years, although the pace obviously was accelerated when Marino was at quarterback.

For example, it took six years for the Dolphins to go from 200 to 300 touchdown passes (1977-83), but only two to go from 300 to 400 (1983-85).

Here’s a look at the milestone TD passes in franchise history:

No. 1 — Rick Casares from Rick Norton, 2 yards, vs. Oakland, Sept. 2, 1966
No. 100 — Otto Stowe from George Mira, 13 yards, vs. Chicago, Nov. 29, 1971
No. 200 — Duriel Harris from Bob Griese, 7 yards at St. Louis, Nov. 24, 1977
No. 300 — Dan Johnson from David Woodley, 1 yard, vs. New England, Sept. 11, 1983
No. 400 — Tony Nathan from Dan Marino, 10 yards, at Green Bay, Dec. 8, 1985
No. 500 — Fred Banks from Dan Marino, 37 yards, at N.Y. Jets, Nov. 27, 1988
No. 600 — Keith Jackson from Dan Marino, 2 yards, at Indianapolis, Nov. 8, 1992
No. 700 — Randal Hill from Craig Erickson, 33 yards, vs. Seattle, Oct. 6, 1996
No. 800 — Jed Weaver from Jay Fiedler, 8 yards, at Buffalo, Nov. 25, 2001
No. 900 — Marty Booker from Joey Harrington, 32 yards, vs. New England, Dec. 10, 2006
No. 1000 — Brian Hartline from Ryan Tannehill, 34 yards, at Cleveland, Sept. 8, 2013

Perhaps not coincidentally, the Dolphins won eight of the 11 aforementioned games, the exceptions coming in 1966, 1988 and 1996.

The 1977 game during which Griese and Harris connected for the 200th touchdown pass in franchise history, of course, was more famous for Griese’s six TD passes in a 55-14 Dolphins victory on Thanksgiving Day.

The 2013 season is the 48th in the history of the Dolphins, and Hartline’s score at Cleveland Sunday marked the 24th time that the team’s first touchdown of the season came on a pass. Another 20 have come on runs, two on defensive touchdowns, the Auer kickoff return in 1966 and finally Marcus Thigpen’s punt return at Houston last season.

Hartline’s touchdown catch also was the 998th in Dolphins history thrown in the United States. Cleo Lemon threw a TD pass in London, England, in 2007, while Chad Pennington threw one in Toronto, Canada, the following year.

Here are some other numbers surrounding the milestone:

• 518 TD passes have been at home; 482 on the road
• 650 TD passes have come in victories or ties; 350 have come in losses
• The four most common victims of Dolphins touchdown passes, not surprisingly, have been current or former AFC East opponents: the New York Jets (153), Buffalo (127), New England (123), Indianapolis (100)
• By month, the Dolphins have had 278 TD passes in November, 253 in December, 242 in October, 215 in September, and 12 in January. The Dolphins have played one game in August in their history, in 1997 against the Indianapolis Colts, but the only touchdown they scored that day in a 16-10 victory came on a 9-yard run by Karim Abdul-Jabbar.
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