Category Archives: Super Bowl

Super Bowl XVII

January 30, 1983
Rose Bowl

Washington Redskins 27
Miami Dolphins 17

This Super Bowl followed a strike-shortened season. Instead of 16 regular season games, 9 were played.
The game was a rematch of Super Bowl VII, also played in the Los Angeles area at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum ten years before, where the Dolphins completed their 17–0 perfect season at the Redskins’ expense by a score of 14–7.

This Super Bowl was the John Riggins game. Washington’s running back, John Riggins, was named Super Bowl MVP. He finished the game with 2 Super Bowl records: the most rushing yards in a Super Bowl game (166), and the most rushing attempts (38). His performance was also his fourth 100 yard rushing game in a row in a postseason game, a postseason record. Riggins also recorded a reception for 15 yards, giving him more total yards than the entire Miami team. Much of Washington’s success on offense was also attributed to their offensive line, affectionately known as “The Hogs”.

The Dolphins’ main strength was their defense, nicknamed the “Killer Bees” because 6 of their 11 starters had last names that began with the letter “B”. The “Killer Bees”, anchored by Pro Bowl defensive tackle Bob Baumhower, led the league in fewest total yards allowed (2,312) and fewest passing yards allowed (1,027). Linebacker A.J. Duhe was extremely effective at blitzing and in pass coverage. And the Dolphins secondary, consisting of defensive backs Don McNeal, Gerald Small and brothers Lyle and Glenn Blackwood, combined for 11 interceptions.

However, this was the pre-Dan Marino era for the Dolphins, and quarterback David Woodley, ranked last in the league in passing with 1,401 total yards, 8 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions.The Dolphins advanced through the special 16-team playoffs by defeating the New England Patriots, 28-13, the San Diego Chargers, 34-13, and the New York Jets, 14-0, to earn a trip to their fourth Super Bowl in team history.

Meanwhile, the Redskins beat the Detroit Lions, 31-7, the Minnesota Vikings, 21-7, and the Dallas Cowboys, 31–17.

Miami scored first on their second possession with a 76-yard touchdown pass from quarterback David Woodley to wide receiver Jimmy Cefalo. Then after forcing the Redskins to punt, Woodley attempted a deep pass again, but was hit by Washington defensive end Dexter Manley causing him to fumble, and defensive tackle Dave Butz recovered the ball. The turnover led to Redskins kicker Mark Moseley’s 31-yard field goal to cut the lead 7–3 two plays into the second quarter.

Miami then followed with a field goal, increasing their lead 10-3. Then the Redskins went on an 80 yard scoring drive, capped by a 4 yard Joe Theismann touchdown pass to Alvin Garrett, tying the score 10-10. But, he tie did not last long: Fulton Walker returned the ensuing kickoff a Super Bowl record 98 yards for a touchdown to give the Dolphins a 17–10 lead. It was the first kickoff return for a touchdown in Super Bowl history.

In the 3rd quarter, Washington drove on their second posession, and settled for a field goal cutting their deficit to 17–13.

In the fourth quarter, Washington had another drive, and reached Miami’s 43 yard line, and face fourth down and one to go. Instead of punting, the Redskins decided to gamble and attempt to get the first down with a run from Riggins. But Riggins did a lot more than pick up the first down. Coach Joe Gibbs called his trademark play I-Right 70 Chip, starting TE Clint Didier in motion towards the right, then reversing motion back to the left. Theismann handed to Riggins who broke a tackle from Miami cornerback Don McNeal and took off for a 43-yard touchdown run, giving Washington their first lead of the game, 20–17, with a little more than 10 minutes remaining in the game.

Washington quickly forced Miami to punt on their next possession, and punt returner Mike Nelms’s 12-yard return gave the Redskins great field position at the Dolphins 41-yard line. The Redskins then executed 5 consecutive running plays by Riggins, consuming a lot of time off the clock and moving the ball to the 23-yard line. Then on third down, Theismann made a key pass completion to Brown to the 9-yard line. Riggins then advanced the ball to the 6-yard line with two more runs. Then after the 2-minute warning, Brown caught a touchdown pass on the next play, increasing the Redskins lead to 27—17 and putting the game away.

Washington had completely dominated Miami in the second half, allowing only two first downs and no pass completions. Overall, the Dolphins gained just 9 first downs and 4 completions in the entire game.

Following the game, NBC aired the premiere episode of The A-Team, beginning the tradition of the game’s
host network airing programming after the game.

Super Bowl XVI

January 24, 1982
Pontiac Silverdome

San Francisco 49ers 26
Cincinnati Bengals 21

Super Bowl XVI was the Super Bowl debut of Joe Montana. Before the season started, nobody could have predicted that these teams would meet in the Super Bowl, as they both had 6-10 records the previous year. The quarterbacks were the big reason for both teams’ success. Joe Montana emerged, and would go on to be one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history, and the Bengals’ Ken Anderson was the top rated passer in the league and won both the NFL Most Valuable Player Award and the NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award.

The Bengals went on to win their first ever playoff game by defeating the Buffalo Bills, 28-21, and then defeated San Diego Chargers, 27-7, in a game known as the Freezer Bowl because of the -37 windchill conditions at Riverfront Stadium. Meanwhile, the 49ers went on to defeat the New York Giants, 38-24, and then narrowly beat the Dallas Cowboys, 28-27, on a last second touchdown pass known as The Catch.

This play was the end of one dynasty and the birth of another:

In the Super Bowl, the Bengals went on to win their first ever playoff game by defeating the Buffalo Bills, 28-21, and then defeated San Diego Chargers, 27-7, in a game known as the Freezer Bowl because of the -37 windchill conditions at Riverfront Stadium. Meanwhile, the 49ers went on to defeat the New York Giants, 38-24, and then narrowly beat the Dallas Cowboys, 28-27, on a last second touchdown pass known as The Catch.

The Bengals had an opportunity to score first. But Anderson threw an interception at the 5 yard line. The 49ers then drove, and scored on a 1 yard quarterback sneak.

The Bengals then had another opportunity to score early in the 2nd quarter. But Cris Collinsworth lost a fumble while being tackled by 49ers defensive back Eric Wright at the 5 yard line.

The 49ers recovered the fumble, and drove 92 yards, scoring on an 10-yard pass from Montana to fullback Earl Cooper, increasing their lead to 14–0. Cooper’s leaping, celebratory spike of the football after scoring became the photo Sports Illustrated used for its post-game cover.

Later on in the quarter, the 49ers went on another drive, and ended up with a field goal, going up 17-0. With just 15 seconds left in the half, Ray Wersching’s ensuing squib kick was muffed by Bengals running back Archie Griffin, and the 49ers recovered the ball on the Bengals 4-yard line. The 49ers had a false start penalty which prevented them from scoring another touchdown, but they got another field goal. The 20-0 halftime lead was the largest halftime lead in Super Bowl history to that date.

After receiving the opening kickoff of the second half, the Bengals drove 83 yards in 9 plays, scoring on a 5-yard touchdown run by Anderson to cut the deficit to 20–7. This seemed to fire up Cincinnati’s defense, who limited the 49ers to only 8 plays and 4 offensive yards for the entire third quarter. Later on in the quarterback, the Bengals drove, and had a first down on the 3 yard line. But, the 49ers held them. The Bengals tried to score a touchdown on 4th down, but were held back as the quarter was coming to a close.

The 49ers could not get anywhere on their next drive, so the Bengals had great field position after receiving the ball back. The Bengals marched 53 yards in 7 plays and scored a touchdown on a 4-yard pass from Anderson to Ross. With the score, the deficit was cut to 20-14 with 10:06 left in the fourth quarter. But the 49ers countered with a 50-yard, 9-play drive that took 4:41 off the clock. They got a field goal, increasing their lead to 23-14 lead with just 5 minutes left.

On the Bengals first play after receiving the ensuing kickoff, Wright intercepted a pass from Anderson. After returning the interception 25 yards, Wright fumbled while being tackled by Bengals guard Max Montoya, but San Francisco linebacker Willie Harper recovered the ball at the Bengals 22-yard line.

The 49ers then ran the ball on 5 consecutive plays, taking 3 minutes off the clock, to advance to the Cincinnati 6-yard line. They got another field goal making the score 26–14 with less than 2 minutes left in the game. Anderson completed 6 consecutive passes on the Bengals ensuing drive, the last one a 3-yard touchdown pass to Ross, to make the score 26–21, but with less than 20 seconds left in the game. The Bengals tried an onside kick, but Clark recovered the ball for the 49ers, allowing San Francisco to run out the clock to win the game. This marked the first time in Super Bowl history that the team which compiled the most yards and touchdowns lost.

Super Bowl XV

Louisiana Superdome
January 25, 1981

Oakland Raiders 27
Philadelphia Eagles 10

Super Bowl XV was the pinnacle of Jim Plunkett’s comeback. The 1970 Heisman Trophy winner was drafted by the New England Patriots and was the 1971 NFL Rookie of the Year. However, he had 5 losing seasons with the Patriots, and 2 unimpressive seasons with the San Francisco 49ers. He was picked up as a free agent by the Oakland Raiders in 1978 to be the backup quarterback to Dan Pastorini. The Raiders started the 1980 season with a 2-3 record, starter Dan Pastorini broke his leg and suddenly Plunkett was thrust into the starting role. Plunkett got off to a bad start, throwing 5 interceptions in a 31-17 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs after relieving Pastorini. However, he recovered and led the Raiders to victory in 9 of their last 11 games in the season, qualifying for the playoffs as a wild card team. The Raiders defeated the Houston Oilers, 27–7, the Cleveland Browns 14–12, and the San Diego Chargers, 34–27. In doing so, Oakland became the third wild card team to advance to the Super Bowl, and the first wild card team to win three postseason rounds since the NFL expanded to a 10-team playoff format in 1978.

Under Head Coach Dick Vermeil, Philadelphia advanced to their first ever Super Bowl in team history, and had not played in a league championship game since their 1960 NFL championship. The Eagles were led by quarterback Ron Jaworski, who completed 257 out of 451 passes for 3,529 yards during the regular season, including 27 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions. Another key player on the Eagles offense was halfback Wilbert Montgomery, who was widely considered one of the top running backs in the NFL and had rushed for over 1,200 rushing yards in the last 2 seasons.

The Eagles actually beat the Raiders 10-7 during the regular season, in Philadelphia as they sacked Plunkett 8 times.
The Eagles advanced through the playoffs, defeating the Minnesota Vikings, 31-16, and the Dallas Cowboys, 20–7.
Oakland linebacker Rod Martin intercepted Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski’s first pass of the game and returned it 17 yards to Philadelphia’s 30-yard line, setting up Jim Plunkett’s 2-yard touchdown pass to Cliff Branch 7 plays later. Oakland scored once again in the first quarter to jump to a 14-0 lead – from which Philadelphia would never recover. The score was 14-3 at halftime. The Raiders scored on the first drive of the second half to a 21-3 lead.
After another field goal, and the Raiders up 24-3, the Eagles finally managed to score a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to cut their deficit to 24–10. Oakland came back with another field goal, to go up 27-10. Oakland’s defense then dominated the rest the game, forcing two turnovers on Philadelphia’s last 2 possessions of the game to prevent any chance of a comeback. The Raiders went on to become the first wild card team to win a Super Bowl.

Super Bowl XIV

As the Super Bowl approaches this week, let’s take a look back at the Super Bowls of the ’80s.

January 20, 1980:
Pittsburgh Steelers 31
Los Angeles Rams 19

This Super Bowl was held at the Rose Bowl before a record crowd of 103,985. It was the Steelers’ second Super Bowl win in a row, and it was their fourth total. This Super Bowl was Terry Bradshaw’s last.
Lynn Swann was Bradshaw’s favorite target, but John Stallworth was the Steelers hero in this game.
The lead had changed several times. The Steelers started off with a 3-0 lead. Then the Rams came right back with a 7-3 lead. The lead changed hands once again 10-7. By halftime, however, the Rams got a couple of field goals to take a 13-10 lead.
Very quickly in the second half, the Steelers took another lead 17-13.
Yet again,the Rams took the lead on a touchdown, but the extra point was missed. So the score was 19-17.
Three minutes into the fourth quarter, Terry Bradshaw hit John Stallworth with a long touchdown pass, which put the Steelers in the lead for good. The score was 24-19. Then late in the quarter, Bradshaw hit Stallworth with a 45 yard pass. A couple of plays later, the Steelers got the ball on the 1 yard line on a controversial pass interference call when Pat Thomas cut in front of Jim Smith. They were then able to score from there to make the final score 31-19.

Note: See Jim’s comment below to see the Bradshaw-to-Stallworth TD pass.

Thanks Jim!!