SUPER BOWL XVIII RUNNER UP 1983 WASHINGTON REDSKINS

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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SUPER BOWL IX RUNNER UP 1974 MINNESOTA VIKINGS

Super Bowl IX!  Although the Vikings lost to Pittsburgh 16-6, this team outlasted the Rams 14-10 in the NFC Championship Game to get there.  This was the second of 3 Super Bowl appearances in a 4 year span after drafting Chuck Foreman, from The [[_]], and acquiring Fran Tarkenton in a trade from the Giants. vikingix

This was the Purple People Eaters at their best.  John Gilliam was a tremendous deep threat, Carl Eller, Jim Marshall, Alan Page (NFL MVP in ’71), and Gary Larsen were still the best front four in football and were in the midst of a division dominance that ruled the NFC Central for the better part of 8 years.

They didn’t win the Super Bowl but still had a hell of a run and should have more Hall of Famers off of that team:  Jim Marshall and Chuck Foreman. Foreman was as dominant a RB in the mid 70s as any.  He carried the Vikings to 3 Super Bowls in 4 years and was a leading receiver out of the backfield.  He was Marshall Faulk, Thurman Thomas, and Marcus Allen before they were and in a bigger body. One game that ruined his legacy was in of all places Buffalo to end the 1975 season.  super-bowl-logo-1974

In the same game where Fran Tarkenton threw for his 291st career touchdown pass to move ahead of Johnny Unitas, Chuck Foreman and OJ Simpson were putting on a clinic and were both after the NFL all time touchdown records for a season.  Well Chuck got 4 to OJ’s 3 but OJ finished with 23TDs to Chuck’s 22 to set the record.

Problem was Chuck had to leave the game after getting hit in the face with a snowball when he scored his 4th touchdown in the 4th quarter…had he scored a 5th he would have tied OJ for the single season touchdown record of 23 that would be later broken by John Riggins (24 in 1983) and an all time record may have garnered him some votes.

Yet Bud Grant’s team was aging having made their 3rd title appearance in 6 years. They were in the middle of a historic run when you look back on it. Those title losses could have reshaped history. Had they won Super Bowl IV against KC, it would have made the Jets win in the season before, a total fluke. The score would have been NFL3 to AFL1 in Super Bowl competition.

They would have kept Don Shula’s Dolphins from becoming a dynasty in VIII and would have stopped an emerging Steeler team in IX. However once they fell to the Steelers, you had to wonder if it was in their psyche to underplay in championship competition.

They had to look at Super Bowl IX and feel they gave one away.

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SUPER BOWL VIII RUNNER UP 1973 MINNESOTA VIKINGS

This was the bauble the Vikings won making it to Super Bowl VIII. Once there they lost to Miami 24-7 yet polished off Dallas 27-10 in the NFC Championship Game. It was the first of 3 in a 4 year run after drafting Chuck Foreman (The U) and  acquiring Fran Tarkenton in a trade with the Giants.

Bowl VIIIThis was the Purple People Eaters at their best.  They threatened to have an undefeated season until a late season upset at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons on a Monday night. The Vikings were 9-0 and the last unbeaten team.  Although they finished 12-2, Pete Rozelle’s schedule makers were trying to negate their cold weather home field advantage. They played 4 of their last 5 on the road where their 2 losses came. They were very close to going undefeated had they a more fair schedule.

Could this have been backlash against Bud Grant for saying Don Shula had an unfair advantage being on the NFL competition committee??

Chuck Foreman was rookie of the year with 1,363 total yards from scrimmage and 15 TDs.  John Gilliam was a tremendous deep threat with 42 receptions, 907 yards and 8 touchdowns. The play action was set up by the 6th best rushing attack that ran for 2,275 yards in 1973. Aside from Foreman, Oscar Reed (401 yds), Ed Marinaro (302 yds of 80’s tvHill Street Blues fame), Dave Osborn (216 yds), Bill Brown (206 yds), and even Fran Tarkenton pitched in with (202 yds) and everyone had a better than 4.0 avg per rush.

viii44Bud Grant’s ball control offense rested the NFC’s sixth best defense. Led by Carl Eller, Jim Marshall, Alan Page (NFL MVP in ’71), and Gary Larsen, they were still the best front four in football and were in the midst of a division dominance that ruled the NFC Central for the better part of 8 years.

super-bowl-logo-1973They came up short in Rice Stadium vs the Dolphins but with their offense intact they would have a few more chances. Everyone was still in their prime  Carl Eller, Jim Marshall, and Chuck Foreman should ALL be in the Hall!!

SUPER BOWL VII RUNNER UP 1972 WASHINGTON REDSKINS

“The Over the Hill Gang” reclamation project of the late George Allen, was built on the heels of the turnaround ushered by the late Vince Lombardi in 1969. The Redskins had been losers for nearly 20 years. Allen was named his successor after Lombardi’s death in June of 1970. He had a disdain for rookies and young players which drove Allen into bringing in old vets. Many of which he brought over from the LA Rams where he served as Head Coach in the mid to late 60s.

 

superbowlvii2He brought in Billy Kilmer to be his quarterback and the subsequent QB battle between he and Sonny Jurgenson tore at the Redskins fan base yet they won in spite of all that. A defense with Jack Pardee and feisty cornerback Pat Fischer, who should be in the Hall of Fame, held most teams down with conservative mistake proof defense.

super-bowl-logo-1972Meanwhile a transplanted Baltimore Colt WR Roy Jefferson teamed with Hall of Fame wideout Charlie Taylor, and the late Jerry Smith to form a decent receiving combination.

However the engine that powered this team was RB Larry Brown, the first Redskin in history to rush for 1,000 yards and a man who ran so violently he burned out after a short career. Yet in 1972, he was one of the finest running backs in the NFL and if there was a yard to get he’d give his all to get it. He really reminded me of Walter Payton in that regard.

After a hard fought win from the shutting down of RB John Brockington and the Green Bay Packers 16-3. This team gave the Redskin faithful one of the team’s landmark wins when they beat the defending champion Cowboys to win the NFC Championship 26-3.  Having outscored their NFC playoff opponents 42-6 this apparently was enough for the Redskins to be favored by 3 in Super Bowl VII over the undefeated Miami Dolphins.  Really??

This was the ring for capturing the NFC Championship for 1972.