"The energy within that stadium that night – in 13 years of playing professional football – I never felt it before then, and I never felt it after that."
The 1985 Miami Dolphins featured a pick-your-poison offense that could score at anytime from anywhere on the field. On this night, it was Dolphins Honor Roll inductee Nat Moore who led the charge with two first-half touchdowns.
Moore's temperament encompassed Miami's mindset entering the game – a game in which most were counting out the home team.
"To think that you're going to play us on a Monday night at home and we don't have a chance," Moore said. "That's the thing that infuriated us. Since Dan Marino entered our system in 1983, we had been an offensive juggernaut for the past three years."
It was a big night for the Dolphins MVP quarterback. Stocked with his full complement of playmakers (Moore and the 'Marks Brothers'), Marino threw for 270 yards and three touchdowns against the vaunted Bears '46 defense.'
Marino's quick release, paired with the schematics of the NFL's all-time winningest coach – Don Shula – put the NFL's No. 1 scoring defense perpetually on its heels. Buddy Ryan's stop-unit was hit with a barrage of scoring via an aerial assault that, at the time, was unprecedented in the football landscape.
"A lot of times I don't think Coach Shula gets the credit he deserves," Moore said. "He's the winningest coach in football and there's for a reason [for that]. His strategy, his ability to look at the opponent and see what the weaknesses are, [that was] critical."
Moore made four catches in the game; the two scores and a critical conversion on third-and-18. The touchdowns came from a pair of plays where Moore condensed inside to the tight end position, with the latter play coming from a shot up the seam in tight coverage – the type of throw that separated Marino from the rest.
"We knew that [Marino] was special," Moore said.
"[It was] his ability to read coverage [and] the fact that he got it out so quickly. And his ability to throw the football. The confidence level that we had in him, and the confidence that he had in us, was just mind-boggling. That was the beauty of that football team. We had so many weapons that Dan could pick and choose how to use them all. He had confidence in everybody and because of that, we led the league in scoring a couple of those years."
The early scoring plays, along with Marino's ability to make the free rusher miss, created a relentless vertical attack that brought frustration into the equation for the road team.
"By the end of the first half, the game was over," Moore said. "At that point, they were so frustrated because they couldn't get to the quarterback. We had a damn good offensive line that did the job, and we knew that when they blitzed there was going to be one guy free and Dan was going to pull around them. Dan was a tough guy. He'll stand in there and deliver the football, and that's what made him so great. He took personal pride in being the best."
And Marino was unequivocally the best.
He led the NFL in passing yards every year from 1984-86, and did so by a cumulative amount of 1,353 yards. Marino set the standard long before the game became the pass-heavy operation that it is today.
"Quarterbacks today, they are all a semblance of what [Marino] was throwing the football," Moore said. "He's going to throw it where only you can catch it. We had that kind of rapport because we worked on a lot of that stuff in practice."
The win over Chicago was Miami's fourth straight victory, and part of an eight-game streak that carried the 1985 team to the conference championship for the third time in four years. Still, the electricity in all of those playoff games paled in comparison to that Monday night in Miami.
"I've been in some big ball games," Moore said. "I've been in two Super Bowls and I've been around loud and rambunctious crowds. But that particular night, it was so electric that the game just sort of slowed down. You could see the development of everything happening. It was an unbelievable game."