It is perhaps the most famous play in Washington Redskins history: John Riggins' 43-yard touchdown run in Super Bowl XVII carved him a spot in football immortality in the Redskins' 27-17 victory over the Miami Dolphins at the Rose Bowl on Jan. 30, 1983. It was Washington's first NFL championship in 40 years. Riggins earned MVP honors with 166 rushing yards, while the defense limited Miami to just 176 yards of total offense. It was also the first Super Bowl win for Joe Gibbs, then in only his second season as a head coach.
Five possessions, 18 plays, 35 points and 356 yards--it was an offensive clinic and it all came in one magnificent quarter. In Super Bowl XXII in San Diego, the Redskins turned a 10-0 first-quarter deficit to John Elway and the Denver Broncos into a 35-10 halftime lead. MVP Doug Williams engineered a second-quarter offensive explosion that remains unparalleled in NFL postseason history. The decisive 42-10 victory on Jan. 31, 1988, was the Redskins' second championship in five years.
The Redskins capped perhaps the greatest season in franchise history on Jan. 26, 1992. In a 37-24 win over the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVI at the Minneapolis Metrodome, Mark Rypien passed for 292 yards and two touchdowns to earn MVP honors, while a stifling defense led by Charles Mann, Wilber Marshall, Kurt Gouveia and Darrell Green limited Buffalo running back Thurman Thomas to just 13 yards on 10 carries. The Redskins finished 17-2 in 1991--the franchise's most wins ever in one season.
Redskins 27, Dolphins 17
The Rose Bowl
Sunday, Jan. 30, 1983
Fourth and one at Miami 's 43-yard line, 10 minutes left in the game. Joe Theismann called the play in the huddle: "Goal line, goal line. I-left, tight wing, 70 chip on white." It was a handoff to John Riggins, the Redskins' 6-2, 240-pound running back. Riggins headed for a huge hole on the left side created by H-back Otis Wonsley and two of the celebrated Hogs, 300-pound tackle Joe Jacoby and 275-pound guard Russ Grimm.
Only Dolphins' cornerback Don McNeal stood in Riggins' way. The 5-11, 185-pound McNeal hit Riggins on the side, but "the Diesel" unceremoniously shook off McNeal and steamrolled into the Southern California sunset for a touchdown and a 20-17 lead in the fourth quarter.
Theismann connected with Charlie Brown on a 6-yard touchdown pass later in the fourth quarter, closing out a 27-17 Redskins victory and Washington 's first NFL championship since 1942. It was the first championship for Joe Gibbs, then in just his second season as head coach.
In the pandemonium of the post-game locker room, it was easy to forget that Miami had built a 17-10 halftime lead. The Dolphins opened the scoring with a 76-yard touchdown pass from quarterback David Woodley to wide receiver Jimmy Cefalo midway through the first quarter.
After kickers Mark Moseley and Uwe von Schamann traded field goals, Theismann hit Alvin Garrett on a four-yard touchdown pass late in the second quarter. But the Dolphins' Fulton Walker returned the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown and a 17-10 lead at the half.
Moseley's 20-yard field goal was the only score of the third quarter, eventually leading to Riggins' heroics in the final frame.
Theismann was an efficient 15-of-23 for 143 yards and two touchdowns. Charlie Brown led the receiving corps with six catches for 60 yards. The Redskins' defense, led by Dave Butz, Darryl Grant, Dexter Manley, Neal Olkewicz and Mark Murphy, among others, limited the Dolphins' offense to 176 total yards and nine first downs.
It was Riggins who earned the most valuable player award, of course. In four post-season games that year, he rushed for an astounding 610 yards on 136 carries. The renowned "Riggo Drill"–which took the form of Riggins right, Riggins left and Riggins up the middle–was at its best during the Redskins' post-season run.
After Gibbs received a congratulatory call from President Ronald Reagan in the Redskins' post-game locker room, Riggins chimed in with one of his outrageous yet comical remarks: "Ron may be president, but for tonight I'm king."
|Dolphins:||Cefalo 76 pass from Woodley (von Schamann kick)|
|Redskins:||Moseley 31 field goal|
|Dolphins:||Von Schamann 20 field goal|
|Redskins:||Garrett 4 pass from Theismann (Moseley kick)|
|Dolphins:||Walker 98 kickoff return (von Schamann kick)|
|Redskins:||Moseley 20 field goal|
|Redskins:||Riggins 43 run (Moseley kick)|
|Redskins:||Brown 6 pass from Thiesmann (Moseley kick)|
Redskins 42, Broncos 10
Jack Murphy Stadium
Sunday, Jan. 31, 1988
Doug Williams doesn't reminisce very often, but every now and again his thoughts return to Super Bowl XXII, when the Redskins quarterback reached for perfection--and found it in one glorious quarter.
"We scored 35 points in 18 plays--that's execution at its very best," Williams said, still marveling years later at the second-quarter dominance in the Redskins' 42-10 Super Bowl triumph over the Denver Broncos. "Offensively, we were in a zone. It didn't matter who we were playing, they weren't going to stop us."
It didn't start out that way, though. On Denver 's first play from scrimmage, Broncos quarterback John Elway connected with wide receiver Ricky Nattiel on a 56-yard touchdown pass. Later, Rich Karlis added a 24-yard field goal and just like that, the Broncos led 10-0.
Late in the first quarter, Williams suffered a "hyper-flexed" left knee while setting up in the pocket. He limped off the field and backup Jay Schroeder came in for two uneventful plays.
Williams took back the reins at the start of the second quarter--and the fireworks began. On play action, he threw an 80-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Sanders, who caught the ball around midfield and outraced cornerback Mark Haynes into the end zone. Four minutes later, Williams connected with Gary Clark on 27-yard scoring strike.
On the Redskins' next possession, rookie running back Timmy Smith broke free down the right sideline a 58-yard touchdown run. A few minutes later, Williams found Sanders again, this time on a 50-yard bomb. He closed the quarter with an 8-yard touchdown pass to tight end Clint Didier.
It was a breathtaking display. Overall, Williams completed 18-of-29 passes for 340 yards and those four second-quarter touchdowns. Smith closed out the scoring with a 4-yard run in the fourth quarter, but Williams--the first African-American quarterback to start a Super Bowl--was the obvious choice for most valuable player.
The rest of the offense seemed to feed off of Williams' remarkable precision, as the unit compiled 602 total yards to go along with the six touchdowns. Smith stunned everybody by rushing for a Super Bowl record 204 yards on 22 carries. Sanders finished the game with nine catches for 193 yards.
Defensively, the Redskins pressured Elway repeatedly, with safety Alvin Walton leading the way with two of the team's five sacks. Barry Wilburn had two of the Redskins' three interceptions; Brian Davis had the other.
But the spotlight was brightest on Williams.
Said head coach Joe Gibbs: "Doug wound up being the right man in the right place. You have a guy who played great when he first came out of college, went to the USFL, turned around and became a backup, then comes all the way back and is MVP in the Super Bowl. That's one of the great stories in sports history."
|Denver:||56 pass from Elway (Karlis kick)|
|Denver:||Karlis 24 field goal|
|Washington:||Sanders 80 pass from D. Williams (Haji-Sheikh kick)|
|Washington:||Clark 27 pass from D. Williams (Haji-Sheikh kick)|
|Washington:||Smith 58 run (Haji-Sheikh kick)|
|Washington:||Sanders 50 pass from D. Williams (Haji-Sheikh kick)|
|Washington:||Didier 8 pass from D. Williams (Haji-Sheikh kick)|
|Washington:||Smith 4 run (Haji-Sheikh kick)|
Redskins 37, Bills 24
Sunday, Jan. 26, 1992
In 1991, Washington fielded one of the most dominant teams ever in the NFL–and perhaps the greatest all-around season in franchise history. The Redskins were a hard-nosed, determined group that year, starting the season with an 11-0 record. They finished 14-2 and then devoured Atlanta and Detroit by a combined score of 65-17 in their first two post-season contests.
Going into Super Bowl XXVI, the Redskins were well-prepared for the Buffalo Bills; the team had an intense, hard-hitting week of practice leading up to the game. The Bills were 13-3 in the regular season and had the NFL's most explosive offense, a group that featured running back Thurman Thomas.
Even though the first quarter of Super Bowl XXVI was scoreless, the Redskins' offense had two scoring opportunities deep in Buffalo 's territory. Holder Jeff Rutledge botched the snap on a Chip Lohmiller field goal and quarterback Mark Rypien threw a rare interception, ending two drives.
The offense started clicking on full cylinders in the second quarter, roaring out to a 17-0 lead on a Lohmiller 34-yard field goal, a 10-yard touchdown pass from Rypien to Earnest Byner and a 1-yard TD plunge by Earnest Byner.
Just 16 seconds into the third quarter, the lead was 24-0. On Buffalo 's first offensive play of the second half, the Redskins sent linebacker Andre Collins on a disguised blitz, confusing Bills quarterback Jim Kelly. He floated a pass right to linebacker Kurt Gouveia, who returned it 23 yards to the Buffalo 2. One play later, Riggs crossed the goal line to increase the Redskins' lead.
The Bills closed the gap to 24-10 later in the third quarter, but Rypien struck again with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Gary Clark, the ball landing softly in his outstretched hands, giving the Redskins an insurmountable 31-10 advantage heading into the final quarter. Rypien finished the game 18-of-33 for 292 yards, two touchdowns and a Super Bowl MVP award.
Both Clark and Art Monk proved too much for the Bills' secondary, as both put up nearly identical numbers. (Clark had seven catches for 114 yards, Monk had seven catches for 113 yards.)
Offensive fireworks aside, the Redskins' aggressive defense was simply magnificent, limiting the prolific Thomas to just 13 yards on 10 carries and pressuring Kelly into mistake after mistake.
Kelly was unable to adjust to Washington's seemingly endless blitzes, which were designed to help counter the Bills' no-huddle offense. Kelly was sacked five times.
Washington had feasted all season on opponents' mistakes and turned Kelly's four interceptions and fumble into 20 points. Free safety Brad Edwards had two of the four picks, while Darrell Green and Gouveia had the others.
Linebacker Wilber Marshall led the way, tallying a game-high 11 tackles, one sack and two forced fumbles. Defensive end Fred Stokes had six tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. Backup defensive lineman Jumpy Geathers added three tackles and a sack.
For head coach Joe Gibbs, it was his third NFL championship in 10 seasons as Redskins head coach.
"I've never enjoyed coaching a team more," Gibbs said. "It's been a fun ride for me since training camp. They all like each other, and the chemistry has been terrific. I've kind of gone along for the trip with them. We know we aren't a great team and that we have to play hard and together to win. And that's what we did."
|Redskins:||Lohmiller 34 field goal|
|Redskins:||Byner 10 pass from Rypien (Lohmiller kick)|
|Redskins:||Riggs 1 run (Lohmiller kick)|
|Redskins:||Riggs 2 run (Lohmiller kick)|
|Bills:||Norwood 21 field goal|
|Bills:||Thomas 1 run ( Norwood kick)|
|Redskins:||Clark 30 pass from Rypien (Lohmiller kick)|
|Redskins:||Lohmiller 25 field goal|
|Redskins:||Lohmiller 39 field goal|
|Bills:||Metzelaars 2 pass from Kelly ( Norwood kick)|
|Bills:||Beebe 4 pass from Kelly ( Norwood kick)|