January 22, 1984
Los Angeles Raiders – 38
Washington Redskins – 9
Super Bowl XVIII was Marcus Allen’s game. The Redskins were the best team in football that year with a 14-2 record. The looked even stronger than the did when they beat Miami the previous year. But, the Redskins’ humiliating defeat at the hands of the black-jerseyed Raiders led Super Bowl XVIII to be known as “Black Sunday.” It was the first NFL Championship for the city of Los Angeles since the 1951 Los Angeles Rams.
The Raiders posted a 12-4 record during the regular season, in the second season in L.A.
Raiders’ running back Marcus Allen was the Super Bowl MVP, carrying the ball 20 times for a then-record total of 191 yards and two touchdowns, including a 74–yard run in the third quarter. His 74–yard run was also a record (now 2nd to Willie Parker’s 75-yard TD run in Super Bowl XL), and his 9.6 yards per carry average was the second highest in Super Bowl history. He also caught two passes for 18 yards, giving him 209 total yards from the line of scrimmage in the game. Allen became just the third Heisman Trophy winner to be named Super Bowl Most Valuable Player.
The Raiders only allowed a combined total of 24 points in their playoff victories over the Pittsburgh Steelers, 38–10, and the Seattle Seahawks (who had beaten the Raiders twice during the regular season), 30–14. Allen had been particularly effective in the playoffs, gaining a total of 375 combined yards and scoring three touchdowns. The Raiders defense limited Seahawks running back Curt Warner, who had led the AFC in rushing yards (1,449 yards), to just 26 yards on 11 carries.
Meanwhile, the Redskins crushed the Los Angeles Rams 51–7, and then narrowly defeated the San Francisco 49ers, 24–21, with Mark Moseley kicking the game winning field goal with just 40 seconds left.
During the first half the Raiders scored on offense, defense and special teams, becoming the first team to score two non-offensive touchdowns in a Super Bowl. Less than five minutes into the game, Los Angeles’ Derrick Jensen blocked Jeff Hayes’ punt deep in Washington territory and recovered the ball in the end zone to give the Raiders a 7-0 lead.
Early in the second quarter, Raiders quarterback Jim Plunkett completed a 50-yard pass to wide receiver Cliff Branch, advancing the ball to the Redskins’ 15-yard line. Two plays later, Plunkett threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Branch, increasing the lead to 14-0. Cliff Branch became just the fourth player to catch a touchdown in two different Super Bowls.
On their next drive, the Redskins moved the ball 73 yards in 12 plays to the Raiders 7-yard line, with Joe Theismann completing a 17-yard pass to receiver Alvin Garrett and three passes to tight end Clint Didier for 50 yards. However, linebacker Rod Martin broke up Theismann’s third down pass attempt, forcing Washington to settle for a 24-yard field goal by Moseley. Los Angeles took the ensuing kickoff and drove 41 yards to the Redskins 39-yard line. The drive stalled when Plunkett’s third down pass fell incomplete, but Ray Guy’s 27-yard punt pinned Washington back at their own 12-yard line with 12 seconds left in the half. On the first play of their drive, Coach Joe Gibbs had Theismann run a screen play called “Rocket Screen”, but Raiders linebacker Jack Squirek intercepted the pass and returned it for a touchdown to give the Raiders a 21-3 halftime lead.
The Redskins came out swinging in the second half as they scored on their opening drive by marching 70 yards in nine plays, with John Riggins running in a 1 yard touchdown. However, Moseley’s extra point attempt was blocked by reserve tight end Don Hasselbeck.
Then the Raiders completely took over the rest of the game, preventing any chance of a Washington comeback. On the following drive, Marcus Allen had a 5 yard touchdown run to make the score 28-9. Late in the third quarter, the Redskins had an opportunity to score after defensive back Anthony Washington forced and recovered a fumble from Branch at the Raiders 35-yard line. They moved the ball nine yards in their next three plays, and then faced fourth down and one. Washington attempted to convert the fourth down with a run by Riggins, just like their successful fourth down conversion against the Miami Dolphins in the previous Super Bowl. But this time, Riggins was tackled by Martin for no gain.
On the next play, the last play of the third quarter, Plunkett handed the ball off to Allen, who started to run left as the play was designed. But after taking an unusually wide turn in that direction, Allen saw a lot of defenders in front of him and cut back to the middle before taking off for a then-Super Bowl record 74-yard touchdown run, increasing Los Angeles’ lead to 35-9.
In the final quarter, the Raiders sacked Theismann three times, forcing him to fumble once, and intercepted a pass. Meanwhile, a 39-yard run from Allen set up a 21-yard field goal from kicker Chris Bahr to make the final score of the game 38-9.
The Raiders were the first team to appear in, and win, the Super Bowl representing two different cities. They were also the first team to score an offensive, defensive and special teams touchdown in the same Super Bowl. The Redskins became the second defending champion to lose a Super Bowl (their divisional rivals, the Dallas Cowboys, were the first, losing Super Bowl XIII after winning Super Bowl XII).
During the Super Bowl, Apple’s famous “1984” television commercial, introducing the Apple Macintosh computer and directed by Ridley Scott, ran during a timeout in the third quarter. This showed how the Super Bowl could be used as an advertising platform.
Following the game, CBS aired the pilot episode of Airwolf.
Here are highlights from the Super Bowl: