51 for LI: Hail to the Redskins in Super Bowl XVII
[lead align=”default”]With just 17 days remaining until Super Bowl LI, it’s time to recall the craziness of the season leading to Super Bowl XVII.[/lead]
A 57-day mid-season strike wiped out part of the 1982 NFL campaign, and the regular season dropped to nine games. The resulting postseason was something to behold. There were no divisions that year, and eight teams made the playoffs per conference. No byes, just four rounds and everybody plays until you’re out. Even though two teams with losing records and five 5-4 teams got into the postseason, two of the best teams rose to the top.
On the NFC side, it was their top team, the 8-1 Washington Redskins. The AFC’s best team, the 8-1 Los Angeles Raiders, did not get to the Super Bowl, but the 7-2 Miami Dolphins did. (Of course, the Raiders would draw the Redskins in Super Bowl XVIII, and win.)
Super Bowl XVII: 1982 Washington Redskins
As mentioned, the Redskins went 8-1 in what was left of the 1982 season. Joe Theismann had a great year at quarterback throwing to The Fun Bunch, which included Hall of Famer Art Monk. Hell, things were going so well for the Redskins that their kicker (Mark Moseley) won the MVP.
Washington allowed only 128 points in their nine-game schedule, thanks in part to players like Dave Butz.
The Skins marched through playoff games with Detroit, Minnesota, and Dallas to reach the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl XVII: 1982 Miami Dolphins
When you think Dolphins of this era, you think Don Shula, the recognizable face of the franchise. This was before the day of Dan Marino, but it also wasn’t too early for The Killer Bees. They didn’t literally kill people, of course, but lots of them had names starting with “B.” These guys also happened to be pretty good. Miami’s defense allowed 131 points during the regular season, not far off of the Redskins’ mark. This is also way fewer points than allowed by the Los Angeles Raiders, the only team ahead of them in the AFC.
Miami beat the Patriots, Chargers, and Jets to reach the big game.
Super Bowl XVII: The Game
This game famously began with the referee not knowing what was heads and what was tails. Damn Super Bowls and their special coins to flip.
The Dolphins, trying to beat the Redskins just like they did in Super Bowl VII, took the early 7-0 lead. David Woodley tossed a 76-yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Cefalo that put Miami ahead.
The second quarter saw a flurry of activity, and the game saw a tie and two Miami leads. Washington got on the board for ten points, but so did the Dolphins. The big play was a kick return touchdown by Fulton Walker after Washington tied it up. Miami did not score in the third quarter, but Washington did: just a chip-shot field goal.
Miami actually carried the lead into the fourth quarter at 17-13. Yet, it was the Redskins who scored the only points in the final frame to claim victory. John Riggins broke a long touchdown run in the fourth quarter to put Washington ahead for good, 20-17. Even then the game remained in doubt, but Theismann’s touchdown pass to Charlie Brown sealed it. (Charlie played because Lucy Van Pelt got benched by Joe Gibbs.)