A Dynasty Lost.  During the Super Bowl era, the measuring stick for a team to be considered a dynasty was winning back to back championships.  Poised to do that, were the 1983 Washington Redskins, fresh from their Super Bowl XVII win over the Miami Dolphins, had roared through the ’83 season on a high. Man, with Riggo, ‘The Hogs’ & ‘The Fun Bunch’ this team was fun to watch!

sbxviiimarbleAs I sit here and think about it…this could have been Joe Gibbs finest coaching job over a Hall of Fame career.  A coach of a defending champion normally has to fight off complacency within his team trying to keep them from becoming ‘fat cats’ and playing with the hunger that drove them to a title.  Most defending champions try to stay the course and hope other teams won’t catch up to them, yet the ’83 Redskins were better than the team that won it the year before.

00036203Let’s take you back to 1983…Ronald Reagan wanted to get re-elected…MASH aired its final episode (hated that show)…and the NFL had returned to its roots with the Redskins offense bludgeoning its way to the ’82 title with Hall of Famer John Riggins running “50 gut” right down team’s throats. Then a funny thing happened, the Redskins caught teams in a vice.  Gang up to stop Riggins and the “Fun Bunch” receivers were wide open behind the drawn up linebackers and points rang up all year long.

They set the NFL record for season scoring at 541.  Joe Theismann went from being a serviceable quarterback to league MVP throwing for 29 TDs.  Riggins went on to set the single season TD record at 24 while rushing for 1,347 yards.  Coming off the only time a kicker was named MVP, Mark Moseley in 1982, set the kicker record for scoring at 161.

00036202They marched to a 14-2 record with their 2 losses coming when they lost 31-30 to Dallas and 48-47 to the Green Bay Packers. These were the two teams that faced each other in the ’82 playoffs with the winner, Dallas, moving on to play Washington for the NFC Championship.  Each happened on a Monday night, yet the game against Lynn Dickey, John Jefferson, James Lofton of the Packers, was the highest scoring Monday Night game ever. Talk about a juggernaut…

Where this team was solid on defense was up front with big Dave Butz and Darryl Grant at DT swallowing opposing running attacks.  Dexter Manley was in his prime as a DE caving in the pocket from the QBs blindside.  Steady linebacker play came from Rich Milot, Neal Olkewicz, and Mel Kaufman.  The secondary was bolstered by sensational rookie Darrell Green.  The Redskins were never spectacular on defense but always ranked among the league’s best and 1983 was no different.

sbxviii5They marched into the ’83 playoffs as a powerful defending champion…so what happened??  They peaked 6 quarters too early.  After the 51-7 dismantling of the Los Angeles Rams in the divisional round, they went back to basics and were grinding out a win in the NFC Championship over the 49ers. Looks can be deceiving. Although the Redskins had taken a 21-0 lead, a closer view and you saw Niners cornerbacks Ronnie Lott and Eric Wright were smothering Charlie Brown and Art Monk for the most part, allowing other 49er defenders to solely focus on Riggins.

They could cover them man for man.  This slowed Washington down and Joe Montana almost pulled off a spectacular comeback losing 24-21 with some dubious penalties called against them late in that game….yet I digress.  The point being, this served as the blueprint for what was to come 2 weeks later in Super Bowl XVIII when the Raiders, with even better cornerbacks in Lester Hayes and Mike Haynes, handled the Redskins receivers allowing the front 7 and safeties to attack Riggins.

00036201C’mon, 38-9??  Really??  I still can’t believe they were beaten that convincingly until I have to remind myself of an NFL truth:  The highest scoring teams in history: 1980-1981 Chargers, these ’83 Redskins, the ’84 Dolphins, My ’90 Buffalo Bills, the ’98 Vikings, the 2001 St. Louis Rams, and the 2007 Patriots all EVENTUALLY ran into a defense late in the playoffs and were all knocked off.  The lone exception is the ’99 Rams.

This was a team that right before Super Bowl XVIII were being called one of the best teams ever and all they had to do was win this one game.  This is the ring commemorating the NFC Championship for getting there.

Best team ever?  Not quite…  Best Redskins team ever??  I think this team would give the 91 team a run for its money.  If you think about the ’83 Redskins and the Super Bowl XXVI champion, they really looked alike.  Who would win between these two if we had a mythical match-up??

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Hail to the Redskins:  Really?  David Woodley can’t complete ANY passes in the second half of Super Bowl XVII for Miami?? None??  Ok he completed two in the second half, 1 to his team and an interception to Redskins S (present Green Bay Packers President & CEO) Mark Murphy and wasted a decent effort by the “Killer B’s” defense.  However the Super Bowl win by Washington was a throwback to old fashioned grind it out football with Riggins for 4, Riggins for 3, Riggins for 5, and wearing down the defense.  However, when I see this ring it takes me back to two weeks prior.

I can remember being fired up for the NFC Championship between Washington and Dallas and knew it was going to be a thing of beauty.  It actually started when the Redskins were putting the finishing touches on a 21-7 win over the Vikings to set up the NFC Conference final when the chant “We want Dallas!!  We want Dallas!!” resonated from the jam packed crowd at RFK.

Just moments before John Riggins, who had rushed for 185 yard was in the midst of a curtain, turned and gave a bow to the crowd sending them into a frenzy.  Those sights and sounds reverberated throughout the stadium and CBS chose instead of showing the final plays of the game, panoramic views of the raucous fans. It became a part of the story.

Then it really got started…

Beginning with Dexter Manley professing that he “hated Dallas” on Monday of championship week that got the ball rolling. It was all over ESPN…  Then came the back and forth in the newspaper from Danny White of the Cowboys, to Redskin owner Jack Kent Cooke, everyone was stoking the fire.  How bad did it get?  There was even a heated argument about the game within the House of Representatives the Friday before the game between Texas and Washington delegates where the late Thomas “Tip” O’Neill adjourned session an hour early.  It was on!!

Over a football game? Yes over a football game. The hating of Dallas really grew wings in the George Allen era in the early 70’s.  He preached it, lived it, and hated the treatment America’s Team received as a media darling. It kept breeding hatred within their division rivals.

Old time Redskin fans still talk with high regard of the fact that they beat Dallas in the ’72 NFC Championship when the Cowboys were defending champions.  So here we were some 10 years later and all that animosity was a thing of the past right?  After all new owner, new coach, new quarterback and cast of characters comprised the Redskins roster.  Right?

I still get chills thinking about that because kickoff was 30 minutes away and the crowd at RFK began another “We want Dallas!” chant. It wasn’t as boisterous as the one from a week prior but it stoked the fire. How must that have felt for the Cowboys to come out to shaking stands and all that noise during warm-ups let alone what would they hear on 3rd downs??  The Redskins weren’t a taunting team but they talked big before that game during the week and on the field pregame.  Near fights broke out….couldn’t have been better set up.

super-bowl-logo-1982So what happened? Remember Dexter Manley?  Well he knocked Danny White out of the game with a concussion very early and forced Gary Hogeboom to finish a championship game he was ill prepared for.  Then clinging to a 24-17 4th qtr lead and the Cowboys having seized momentum, Manley struck again.  On a screen pass the hard charging Manley blew by the Cowboy tackle and as Hogeboom tried to float a screen to Dorsett, Manley tipped the pass that DT Darryl Grant took back 20 yards for the final TD to seal Dallas’ fate 31-17.  The entire team was in the endzone celebrating that touchdown…hadn’t seen that before.

So Joe Gibbs, Theismann, Riggo, The Hogs, & The Fun Bunch played a spirited game and here is a video recount of it.

They were off to play Super Bowl XVII in Pasadena against Miami.  Of course it was a day for Hall of Famer John Riggins who rushed for a record 166 yards and his famous “70 Chip” touchdown run that gave the Redskins a 20-17 lead in the 4th quarter on their way to a 27-17 triumph.  Of course it was the brass ring that they won but even in remembering their actions (expressed joy) the win over the Cowboys for the NFC Championship, meant more.  Want further evidence?  When Charlie Brown scored the decisive touchdown that put the Super Bowl away the entire team wasn’t in the endzone celebrating it the way they had against Dallas.  That’s how we know…

You couldn’t tell me otherwise…

This article is dedicated in the memory of former Washington Redskin owner Jack Kent Cooke and the late George Allen.

For a more visceral look

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NFL.Com Bracketology: 2006 Indianapolis Colts v. 1987 Washington Redskins

Timmy Smith ran for 204 in the biggest game of the year. Colts wouldn't have stopped him.

To best understand the nature of a fictitious tournament like this is you have to realize when the teams would take the field. Almost like a time machine, you’d have to transport them from how they were at the end of the Super Bowl and at their best. Otherwise from a first glance you would look and think “Well Peyton Manning’s offense would outdistance one of the weaker statistical (for a season) Redskins teams.” Yet upon further review this would be a little misleading…uh, make that very misleading.

The Redskins would bludgeon the Colts smallish defensive front with The Hogs. The 2006 Colts not only finished 21st in defense overall, they were the first team to win the Super Bowl with the NFL’s worst run defense! Ranked 32nd!! Even in their Super Bowl XLI win over the Chicago Bears, they allowed Thomas Jones to rush for over 100 yards in that game. The ’05 edition of the Colts was stronger than the ’06 team that won it all yet was upset by the Steelers in the divisional round. That light defense was able to play with leads and would have Redskin RB Timmy Smith coming at them from the start. Who?? Oh yeah, he set the Super Bowl rushing record for the Redskins with a 204 yard performance and was a very physical back. Behind OLs Mark May, Joe Jacoby, Russ Grimm, Jeff Bostic, and Raleigh McKenzie running downhill on Colt DEs Robert Mathis, Dwight Freeney, and getting out on MLB Gary Brackett?? Yikes!! “The Hogs” would be serving pancakes all day and that would get ugly in a hurry.

If we use Doug Williams’ Super Bowl MVP performance, 340 yards and 5TDs overall, this game wouldn’t be close. Just remember, 18 plays 356 yards of offense and 5TDs in the 2nd quarter of Super Bowl XXII was the greatest team offensive performance the Super Bowl had ever seen. In contrast, it took Joe Montana and the 49ers, who won SB XXIV 55-10, almost 3 complete quarters to equal Washington’s single quarter output! No one has EVER approached the 602 yards of offense the Redskins put up that fateful Sunday in Jack Murphy Stadium.

Redskin Dexter Manley chased John Elway all over San Diego in Super Bowl XXII

That withstanding we’ll go with the twin DE Dexter Manley and Charles Mann would be on Peyton Manning as they chased John Elway into oblivion in that game sacking him 5 times. Manley and Mann would have collapsed Peyton’s pocket and his happy feet would have caused him to throw incompletions and interceptions. Manning on his best day couldn’t evade a pass rush like a young John Elway. The Hogs would get Timmy Smith somewhere around 175 yards on Tony Dungy’s light defensive team. CB Darryl Green and Barry Wilburn match up well with Reggie Wayne and an aged Marvin Harrison. Redskins win 30-16. Adam Vinatieri wouldn’t even be a factor.

At only 5'11 and 235lbs, MLB Gary Brackett would have been walled off by Redskin C Jeff Bostic and the rest of the Hogs who area blocked under former OLine coach Joe Bugel.

Wait a second!! Upon further review you got me…for some reason I was thinking of the 2005 Indianapolis Colts. The ’05 edition was stronger than the ’06 team that won the Super Bowl.  Just kidding… we didn’t but to finish up:  Colts CBs Marlon Jackson, Nick Harper, and Kelvin Heyden would have been chewed up alive by Gary Clark, Hall of Famer Art Monk, and Ricky Sanders.  Sanders set the record for receiving yards in that game with 193. The Redskins set the Super Bowl record with 602 yards. In 18 plays during the second quarter of Super Bowl XXII, the Redskins gained 356 yards of offense, scored 35 TDs on 5:54 of possession time, and the lowly ranked Colts defense was going to stop that?? No chance…. In instances like this, most fans don’t know history and just vote for their own team or just modern history. Not us. Not here. In fact, I’m correcting my score…make that 44-16 Washington.

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Dynasty Lost