The Super Bowl is just 34 days away. Let’s look at the Super Bowl from 34 years ago to honor this not that significant occasion!
Tampa Bay hosted Super Bowl XVIII on January 22, 1984. The game pitted the defending World Champion Washington Redskins against the Los Angeles Raiders of the AFC. There was little doubt throughout the season that these were the two best teams in football. For during the regular season, they staged a classic confrontation. The Skins won at home 37-35 thanks to a fantastic comeback.
Washington Redskins 34 Years Ago
Washington had one of the best regular seasons in league history. On offense, they broke the single-season points record. They finished 14-2. Incredibly, their only losses on the season came on Monday Night Football to Dallas (31-30) and to Green Bay (48-47). They got into the Super Bowl by destroying the Rams, 51-7 and edging the 49ers.
The NFC championship game between Washington and San Francisco is sometimes referred to as “The Forgotten Classic.” The Skins got off to a 21-0 lead. But, Joe Montana and Mike Wilson led the Niners to a comeback. Redskins’ kicker Mark Mosely had a terrible day. However, with the game on the line, he converted a 25-yarder to clinch the victory. The Redskins were back in the Super Bowl, ready to defend their title.
Los Angeles Raiders 34 Years Ago
The Raiders were playing in their second season in Los Angeles. When they were in Oakland, they won two Super Bowls including one in 1980. In 1981, Al Davis drafted Howie Long out of Villanova. In 1982, he selected Marcus Allen from USC. Could he have drafted any better? Long and Allen were huge contributors on the 1983 team. Additionally, veteran tight end Todd Christiansen led the NFL in receptions. The Raiders had veteran-talent all over the field. Lyle Alzado, Rod Martin, Bill Pickel, Ted Hendricks, Mike Haynes, Mike Davis, Lester Hayes, Matt Millen, Cliff Branch, Jim Plunkett, Kenny King, Greg Pruitt, Ray Guy, Chris Bahr etc. There is little wonder how Tom Flores’ team won 23 of their first 29 games in Los Angeles with that group.
They had one Achilles heel in 1983. They struggled against Curt Warner and the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle swept the series, scoring 72 points in the process. After crushing the Steelers in the divisional round, LA would have their opportunity to beat Seattle in the AFC championship game. And, they did just that. Marcus had over 200 yards from scrimmage including an excellent TD reception to put the game away. On defense, the Raiders recorded 5 interceptions. They were dominant. Hence, LA was back in the big dance.
The high expectations set forth for this contest never materialized. The Raiders were overwhelmingly better…at everything. In the first half, the Raiders scored touchdowns on special teams, offense and defense. Perhaps the pivotal play of the game occurred with seconds to go in the second quarter. The Skins went back to a play that worked in the teams’ first meeting; a screen pass to little Joe Washington. LA knew it was coming. Linebacker Jack Squirek stole the pass and waltzed in from the five for a 21-3 halftime lead.
With the score 28-9 late in the third, Allen scored a 74-yard TD. It was this game’s signature play. In fact, the NFL Network considered it the greatest run in NFL history! Surely, it was spectacular in that Allen started one way, reversed field, and dashed into the darkness. As Riggins’ run was in Super Bowl XVII, this was an iconic play from Super Bowls past.
The Raiders won the ball game, 38-9. They would not represent Los Angeles in the Super Bowl ever again. The Redskins would be back in four short years. 1987 was another strike-shortened season that ended in another World Championship for the Redskins.
Tomorrow, we’ll talk about the great offense of the 1984 Dolphins and the great 18-1 team from San Francisco.
Brandon Fazzolari is a Super Bowl expert…@spot_Bills