The Super Bowl is just 26 days away. Let’s look at the Super Bowl from 26 years ago to honor this not that significant occasion!
Minneapolis hosted Super Bowl XXVI on January 26, 1992. The game pitted the National Football Conference champion Washington Redskins against the defending AFC champs, the Buffalo Bills.
Buffalo Bills 26 Years Ago
The ’91 Bills struggled on defense compared to the 1990 team. Bruce Smith missed significant time due to injury. Jeff Wright and Phil Hansen’s injuries left the front end weakened. They finished with the league’s 27th-ranked unit.
However, their offense was incredible. Fourth-year running back Thurman Thomas was the NFL MVP. And Jim Kelly led the Bills to ten performances scoring 30+ points. The Bills faced little resistance in the AFC.
Their win at the LA Coliseum over the Raiders was a high point late in the season. They were down 27-14, but scored twice in the last five minutes. Kicker Scott Norwood had a brutal game, though. He missed two field goals and PAT. The game went to OT. Finally, Norwood hammered home the winner.
In the playoffs, Buffalo easily eliminated Kansas City, and heavily favored to do the same to Denver. Yet, the Broncos controlled the game in the first half. Fortunately for the Bills, Broncos’ kicker David Treadwell missed three field goals and they went to the break scoreless. The Bills got a dramatic third- quarter TD on an interception return by Carlton Bailey. John Elway, playing through injury, had his screen pass deflected by Wright and grabbed by Bailey. Norwood added a long field goal for a 10-0 lead.
Gary Kubiak replaced Elway and almost brought Denver back. But, a Steve Sewell fumble caused by Kirby Jackson sealed the game for Buffalo.
Washington Redskins 26 Years Ago
The Redskins, likewise, breezed through the regular season. They finished the campaign #1 in points for and #2 in points against – not too shabby. Their only meaningful loss came as an 11-0 squad to the upstart Dallas Cowboys.
The Skins had one young player on offense – the dynamite Ricky Ervins. Everybody else on that O was an established veteran. Journeyman QB Mark Rypien led the charge. He had weapons galore – Art Monk, Gary Clark, Ricky Sanders, Gerald Riggs and Earnest Byner.
They were led on defense by first team All-pro CB Darrell Green. He was the speed and finesse on that club. The rest of the D was known for their ferocity. Wilber Marshall, Brad Edwards, Andre Collins – a virtual ‘who’s who’ of 1991 clock cleaners.
They were partially challenged in a monsoon by the scrappy Falcons. Jerry Glanville’s Atlanta team came in highly confident. And left dispatched by the fundamentally-solid Redskins. In the NFC championship game, Washington destroyed Barry Sanders and the Lions 41-10. So, Washington was on to play in their franchise’s fifth Super Bowl.
The Redskins’ defense came out strong, suffocating Buffalo’s running game. Thurman was not in the ball game because he could not find his helmet! Once Washington had the ball, they moved it with relative ease. They knocked on the door all first quarter, but came away with nothing. Buffalo continued to do nothing on offense, though.
Like they did in Super Bowl XXII, the Skins put it together in the second quarter to the tune of 17 points in six minutes. The Bills had a shot at some points before the half. But, Andre Reed slammed his helmet in frustration when a flag was not thrown on Edwards for PI. The penalty knocked Buffalo out of field goal range and the halftime score was 17-0.
Sixteen seconds into the second half, the nightmare continued. Kurt Gouveia intercepted Kelly and returned the pass to the two. Riggs pushed it in for a 24-0 lead.
The Bills moved the ball well the rest of the night, but it was way too little, too late. The dagger was Rypien’s 30-yard third-and-ten TD pass to Clark. That gave the Skins a 31-10 lead. The final was 37-24. The score is nowhere near indicative of the physical pounding Washington unleashed on the Bills. People like James Lofton and Don Beebe were dealt a season’s worth of punishment in one game.
The Bills were down, but not out. Their resiliency would be their trademark in the early 90’s. Their head coach, Marv Levy was a master motivator and his guys drank what he was serving.
As for the Redskins, they have not been back to the Super Bowl since the 1991 season. But the Joe Gibbs era marked an unparalleled crest of Redskins’ history. From 1982-1991, Washington won four NFC titles and three Super Bowls with three different starting quarterbacks. Gibbs goes down in history as one of the greatest in NFL history.
Brandon Fazzolari is a Super Bowl expert…@spot_Bills