Nat Moore had 43 receptions for 574 yards and six touchdowns, while tight end Dan Johnson had 34 receptions for 426 yards. While passing was the mainstay of Miami's offense, they still possessed three excellent running backs in Tony Nathan, Woody Bennett, and Joe Carter. The Dolphins finished with a 12-4 record and earned the right to face the New York Giants in Super Bowl IX.
Miami entered the game as one of the top-ranked offenses in football, but its defense was considered to be a major weakness. The Dolphins ranked last in points allowed (38.6 per game) and total yards allowed (542.8 per game). However, they did rank first in the NFL in interceptions with 21. Jeff Davis, who was hired by Don Shula after he left to become the head coach of the Baltimore Colts, said he planned to implement his own version of the Tampa Two defense used by Shula and company. This defense is based on having two deep defenders near the line of scrimmage and then moving them around depending on what the quarterback does with the ball.
The Dolphins' defense forced five turnovers in the opener against Chicago, including three fumble recoveries. Linebacker Sam Madison recorded two sacks and two fumble recoveries in this game. He was named the MVP of the season after he led the team in tackles (116), interceptions (3), and fumble recoveries (2).
Vance Johnson and Ricky Nattiel, both wide receivers, and tight end Clarence Kay combined for 104 receptions and 1,754 yards. Sammy Winder led all rushers with 741 yards and six touchdowns, while fullback Gene Lang rushed for 304 yards and caught 17 passes.
Johnson and Nattiel were the stars of this game. The two players combined for 12 catches, 196 yards, and three scores. They showed great chemistry together and helped lead their teams to victory.
This game is also famous because of a controversial call by referee Jerry Markbreit. With less than a minute left in the fourth quarter and the score tied at 28-28, Miami faced a 4th down and 11 situation. Coach Don Shula decided to go for it instead of kicking the field goal that would have given the Dolphins a 3 point lead. This decision turned out to be very costly because it allowed Denver to stay alive and eventually win the game.
However, before they could attempt the conversion, Markbreit called a timeout. Many believed that this call was made because Miami was attempting a play rather than a penalty. Regardless of the reason, this call caused controversy and criticism from fans and media members who thought that the Dolphins should have kicked the field goal.
In conclusion, Vance Johnson and Ricky Nattiel were the leading receivers in Super Bowl 22.
The Bears' major deep threat in the passing game was wide receiver Willie Gault, who caught 33 receptions for 704 yards at an average of 21.3 yards per grab and returned 22 kickoffs for 557 yards and a score. Emery Moorehead, a tight end, was another important contributor, catching 35 receptions for 481 yards.
In the backfield, Mike Singletary led the team with 901 rushing yards while Walter Payton finished with 812 yards from scrimmage. However, it was not enough as the Los Angeles Rams defense proved to be too strong for the Bears offense that lacked a running game. The Bears did not have a single receiver catch more than 50 passes during the season. However, they did have two players catch at least 10 interceptions: Gary Fencik had 11 catches and Tony Boselli had 10. Both players were used primarily as return men for the Bears.
After finishing last in the NFC Central division, the Chicago Bears decided to stick with head coach Dennis Green instead of replacing him with a more experienced coach. The decision wasn't popular with fans but the Bears' management thought they could win with Green's system so they kept him in charge. After losing to New England in the first round of the playoffs, Green was fired. Dave Wannstedt was brought in as his replacement but he was unable to lead the team to the postseason again.