Redskins Let 'Er Rip
Super Bowl XXVI was played like most of the last ten or so--with the NFC champions soundly thrashing the best from the AFC. The only thing different about Washington's 37-24 victory over Buffalo was the script.
In the end, the Redskins defeated the Bills with what the losers do best--a no-huddle offense. The Redskins also stole another page from the Bills' playbook, perfecting the multiple-wide receiver offense while shutting down that of Buffalo. A little-known running back from Washington outrushed the NFL's Offensive Player of the Year from Buffalo. And a sixth-round draft pick outperformed the league's top quarterback and, in turn, was named the game's Most Valuable Player.
Still, Super Bowl XXVI was just like most of its predecessors--a super blowout that was pretty much decided by halftime. It was an embarassment for the losers that left many of the 63,000 fans in attendance and another 120 million or so watching across the country wondering why the Super Bowl is usually such a super bore.
Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs, who became the third NFL coach to win three Super Bowls, didn't think so. "It was kind of a dream game for us," he said.
It was just the opposite for the Bills, who became the third team to lose consecutive Super Bowls. "I said before the game we need to go out and make history," said Buffalo DE Bruce Smith. "We did it in the wrong damn way."
In the beginning of the game, it was Washington doing things the wrong way. Three times the Redskins had easy scoring chances and three times put no points on the scoreboard. And, while the Bills weren't in the game after halftime, there were four times that, if things had gone the other way, might have changed the outcome. The first turning point followed the first scoreless first quarter in fifteen Super Bowls. Redskins QB Mark Rypien, the game's MVP, connected with Ricky Sanders on a 41-yard pass on the second play of the second quarter. Four plays later, Chip Lohmiller kicked the first of his three field goals, and Washington had the lead for good. Washington then scored on Earnest Byner's 10-yard reception and Gerald Rigg's one yard run--17 points in a period of 5:45. Rypien completed 18 of 33 passes for 292 yards.
The Redskins intercepted Buffalo QB Jim Kelly four times and forced him to fumble once. Kelly's four INTs tied the Super Bowl record, and his 58 passing attempts set a record as well. And Bills RB Thurman Thomas managed only 13 yards on 10 carries.
On the first play of the second half, Kelly was intercepted, and on the next play, Riggs scored his second TD of the game. Buffalo then scored 10 points on its next two posessions on a one-yard run by Thomas and a FG by Scott Norwood. But Washington responded with an 11-play, 79-yard drive that iced the game when Gary Clark caught a 30-yard TD pass from Rypien. Lohmiller kicked two more FGs for the Redskins. Finally, the Bills, down 37-10, scored two TDs in a stretch of 2:04 late in the fourth quarter, helped by the recovery of an onside kick.