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Marshall And Bush Make A Grand Combination

Posted Dec 21, 2011

Sometime over the next two weeks and more than likely this Sunday at the New England Patriots, the Miami Dolphins’ offense will make franchise history.


Never before has there been a 1,000-yard rusher and a 1,000-yard receiver in the same season, not even on those powerhouse teams of the early 1970s. Hall-of-Famers Paul Warfield and Larry Csonka came the closest in 1971 when Csonka rushed for 1,051 yards and Warfield racked up 996 receiving yards.

Speedy running back Reggie Bush sits just 27 rushing yards shy of 1,000 after shredding the Buffalo Bills in the snow last Sunday for 203 yards and a touchdown. Wide receiver Brandon Marshall went over 1,000 receiving yards for the fifth consecutive season and second with Miami in that same game when he caught a 65-yard touchdown pass.

“I’m aware of Dolphins history and have learned a lot about it since I’ve been here and we’ve got a great group of guys here,” said Bush, who already has established career highs in rushing yards and carries. “I know guys hold themselves to a higher standard, especially with the games that we’ve lost, so I know that stats are secondary to winning here. That speaks volumes about the guys we have here, but obviously if we can get a 1,000-yard rusher and receiver in the same season it would mean a lot and it would be part of history here.”

The last time a running back and wide receiver came close to accomplishing the feat was in 2005 when Ronnie Brown rushed for 907 yards as a rookie while sharing the backfield with Ricky Williams and Chris Chambers finished with 1,118 receiving yards. Chambers fell just short of making it happen for the Dolphins in 2003 with 963 receiving yards when Williams rushed for 1,372.

During Hall-of-Fame quarterback Dan Marino’s heyday in the mid-1980s and 1990s there were only three seasons where the milestone was within reach, which is somewhat surprising. Marino had two 1,000-yard receivers in 1991 in Mark Duper (1,085) and Mark Clayton (1,053), but the third member of the Marks Brothers that year was running back Mark Higgs and his 905 rushing yards were 95 yards short of making it happen.

“It’s a little shocking,” said Marshall, who also has yet to be a part of such a prolific tandem. “This is one of the great franchises in sports, but they won differently back then. And when you look at the history of the offense around here, when they had Dan Marino I don’t think they knew what a running game was, so that’s probably why he had all of those records. It’s a different ballgame and for us it’s something to build off of.”

Fellow wide receiver Davone Bess also was surprised when he learned that Miami never had a 1,000-yard rusher and receiver in the same season.

“That’s an amazing stat,” wide receiver Davone Bess said. “It would be a big offensive accomplishment because it’s hard to get 1,000 yards from a receiver and a running back so you’ve got to give credit when credit is due regardless. It’s just hard to do at any level.”

Wide receiver Brian Hartline was equally as surprised as Bess considering the rich history of the Dolphins, but he is more concerned with Miami’s won-loss record at the moment. He claimed that the record just wouldn’t mean as much as it would have had the Dolphins been a playoff team this year, but was still impressed.

Former Dolphins running back Karim Abdul-Jabbar had the most chances to be in that elite company in 1996 and 1998, and both times it was wide receiver O.J. McDuffie on the other end. Abdul-Jabbar rushed for 1,116 yards in ’96 when McDuffie finished with 918 through the air. Two years later the roles were reversed as McDuffie rolled up 1,050 receiving yards but Abdul-Jabbar finished with 960 on the ground.

“Wow, that’s amazing,” said rookie center Mike Pouncey, who was Miami’s first-round draft pick and 15th pick overall in April’s NFL Draft. “That would be a great accomplishment for our team and obviously we’ve still got a lot to play for. The biggest thing is going out there and playing our best so we can get a win, but statistically we want to help Reggie get over 1,000 yards and just make this season worth something.”

Marshall’s 2,035 combined receiving yards over the last two seasons are the sixth most in a two-year span for a Dolphins receiver. He is just 105 yards shy of Clayton’s total in 1988-89 and 111 yards shy of Clayton’s total in 1985-86. Irving Fryar’s two-year total of 2,280 also is within reach with two games remaining.

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