The Super Bowl is just 35 days away. Let’s look at the Super Bowl from 35 years ago to honor this not that significant occasion!
Pasadena’s Rose Bowl hosted Super Bowl XVII on January 30, 1983. The game pitted the NFC champion Washington Redskins against the Miami Dolphins of the American Football Conference. This was a rematch of Super Bowl VII; the only other time the Skins had been to the big game up till that point and when Miami completed their undefeated season. A strike had marred the 1982 season. The NFL cancelled seven games in all. Also, this Super Bowl was the first to be played one week after the championship games.
Washington Redskins 35 Years Ago
Joe Gibbs’ Redskins showed vast improvement from the 1981 season. They were one of the most fun teams in NFL history. They had the “Diesel, ” Johns Riggins. Their offensive line was nicknamed “the hogs” and their small-ish wide receivers were dubbed “the smurfs.” Their defense was solid as well. They ran a bend but don’t break scheme focused on punishing pass catchers and rushing the passer.
In 1982, Washington finished a league-best 8-1 record. Their only loss was at home to the hated Cowboys. In 1982, the NFL decided to have a 16-team playoff tournament. Washington was the top seed in the NFC and faced off against Detroit. They pummeled the Lions causing 8 turnovers. Alvin Garrett scored three times on receptions from Joe Theismann.
One week later, they had a much more difficult game against the Vikings. But, once they led 21-7, they just handed the ball to Riggins. Riggins carried the ball 37 times for 185 yards. Neither team scored in the second half, but Washington’s “hogs” were the MVP of this game.
In the NFC championship game, the Redskins knocked Dallas QB Danny White out of the game. Then, they knocked the Cowboys out of the playoffs. The key play of this game occurred late in the fourth quarter. With the Skins leading 24-17, Dallas had their opportunity. But, back up QB Gary Hogeboom attempted to set up a screen. Dexter Manley ran at him like a bull and deflected the pass into the air for Darryl Grant to pick off and rumble home. RFK Stadium literally shook. Washington was off to the Super Bowl.
Miami Dolphins 35 Years Ago
The Dolphins were not as consistent as the Skins during the regular season, but played three solid playoff games. 35 years go, Coach Shula’s Dolphins were the #1 defense in the NFL. And they were thankful for that because they had the 19th-ranked offense, one of the worst offenses to ever participate in a Super Bowl. Their quarterbacking situation revolved around two guys, the late David Woodley and Don Strock. They were sometimes referred to as “Woodstrock” due to Strock finishing so many games that Woodley started. Their defense, though, was awesome.
There were so many players on Miami’s defense with last names starting with the letter “B,” they were referred to as the “Killer Bees.” Add to all that talent #77 stud linebacker A.J. Duhe and longtime defensive mastermind, Bill Arnsparger, and Miami was a formidable foe. In the first round, Miami outclassed New England, 28-13. The Dolphins got revenge on San Diego by dominating them 34-13 in the second round.
In the AFC Championship game, the Dolphins and Jets played in the mud of the Orange Bowl. Duhe intercepted Richard Todd including a pick sick to put the game on ice. Miami won 14-0.
Big Play Dolphins
The Dolphins did not wait long to score in the Super Bowl. In a game where they totaled 176 yards, they got 76 of those on their 5th play from scrimmage. Woodley found Jimmy Cefalo for their lone big offensive play of the game and a 7-0 lead. The teams exchanged time-consuming field goals drives. Therefore, Miami led 10-3 when the game got very interesting just before the half.
First, Theismann threw a fade to tiny Alvin Garrett to tie the score. Next, Fulton Walker returned the ensuing kickoff. It was first KO return in Super Bowl history as the late-great Walker needed one block and was free. Finally, the Skins drove down the botched an attempt to get a field goal off before the end of the half as they failed to get out-of-bounds with the clock running.
In the second half, Washington got that kick to make the score, 17-13. By now, Miami’s offense was putrid. They went 4 for 17 in their passing game ON THE DAY! Their defense battled to stay ahead and very nearly, pick sixed their way to victory. A diving Theismann saved the day on a batted ball.
In the fourth quarter, one of the iconic Super Bowl moments occurred. On a fourth and one from the 43, Riggins to his left, plowed over DB Don McNeal, and raced down the far sidelines for a go-ahead TD. Washington added one more score late by Charlie Brown and the Redskins had their first World Championship!
Washington got back to the Super Bowl three more times, winning two of those under Coach Gibbs. Miami got back two years later. They no longer had a good defense. But, they had a terrific young quarterback out of Pitt named Dan Marino. They lost Super Bowl XIX to the Niners. Unfortunately, they have yet to return.
Brandon Fazzolari is a Super Bowl expert…@spot_Bills