On NFL Thursday this week, we find ourselves in 1984, when the Super Bowl featured one of the best matchups of all-time quarterbacks ever: Dan Marino against Joe Montana. We all know how that turned out, but we should pause and reflect on the turning point in professional football history that the moment provided us as fans, media, and observers.

(And if you’re curious, check out our first miniseries entry on this year for context.)

Super Bowl XIX MVP: Joe Montana, QB, San Francisco (original, confirmed)

The San Francisco 49ers won their second Super Bowl, 38-16, by beating the Miami Dolphins, and Montana was named the MVP: He tossed 3 touchdown passes, ran for another score, and posted a total of 390 total yards on a day when the S.F. offense compiled 537 yards overall. It’s hard to argue with the MVP selection here, as this may be one of the best postseason QB efforts ever.

Three different 49ers ran for at least 58 yards, including Montana himself, and four different S.F. receivers managed at least 60 yards each, showing the distribution ability of the star QB to spread the ball around. Meanwhile, the 49ers defense intercepted Marino twice and sacked him four times, as well. But it was a team effort there, and Montana clearly owned the day on the other side of the ball.

1984 NFL ROTY: Louis Lipps, WR, Pittsburgh & Bill Maas, NT, Kansas City (original); Lipps (revised)

The Pittsburgh Steelers won their division by 1 game with a 9-7 record, thanks to the contributions of rookie wide receiver Louis Lipps (1,589 total yards and 11 TDs), while the Kansas City Chiefs just missed the playoffs with an 8-8 record, despite the efforts of rookie nose tackle Bill Maas (5 sacks). Both were named ROTY winners by the voters at the time, but Lipps has to be considered the top candidate.

Yet the Steelers WR fumbled a whopping 8 times! Is there anyone else out there to consider? Only Green Bay Packers free safety Tom Flynn, who posted 9 interceptions for an 8-8 team that missed the postseason by 1 game. We see Flynn’s season as being better than Maas’ in truth, if we don’t want to reward Lipps for his fumbling.

In the end, though, Lipps did enough positive to overcome his negatives, and the Steelers would not have made the playoffs without him, flaws and all. That has to top whatever contributions Flynn made to a team that just missed out.

Check in every Thursday for our NFL awards historical analysis on The Daily McPlay!