Golden Football Magazine
NFL Championship Games
This series covers the history of the NFL through the prism of its yearly championship games.
Note: The gray boxes contain asides that provide interesting material but could be skipped without losing the continuity of the article.
Super Bowl XXII - Denver Broncos vs Washington Redskins: 2nd Half
Part 1 - SB XXII Pregame | Part 2 - SB XXII 1st Half
The outcome was no longer in doubt, but the teams had to play the second half.
Injured C Russ Grimm: "Joe's talking at halftime. He said that we had to treat this as 0-0. Meanwhile, we're telling (equipment manager) Jay Brunetti to get the (victory) hats ready. We go out in the third quarter and score another touchdown, and it's 42-10. We're saying, 'Get the hats out.'"
Doug Williams had his swollen knee drained and wrapped during halftime, took some Tylenol-3 for the pain, and "sucked it up." He added, "I think the guys knew I was hurting a little bit, but they also knew that I'm a guy who's been through a lot of adversity, pain, what have you, and that I'll hang in there as long as I can." Doug also recalled, "Joe Bugel came up to me. He used to call me 'Stud,' and he just said, 'Hey, Stud, you don't have to go back out there if you don't want to. I think we can handle this.' At that time my knee was swelling and I could hardly walk. But I said, 'No, I started it and I'm going to finish it.'"
Dan Reeves said afterward, "There wasn't much I could say at halftime. What do you say when you're 25 points down at halftime? We just had to keep fighting, but the guys were really down."

Quarter 3

As you'd expect of a team that was 25 points behind, the Broncos came out passing. On third-and-10 from the 27 following two incompletions, John Elway hit Jackson for 11y to move the chains. But Winder lost three, another errant throw, and a false start penalty made it third-and-18. Under pressure, Elway tried to connect with Ricky Nattiel, but Wilburn intercepted and returned 11y. However, a late hit penalty on Washington put the ball back at their 35.

Sammy Winder totes the pigskin.
Williams: "Joe Gibbs had a lot of respect for Dan Reeves and wasn't tryig to run up the score, so I think we got a little conservative in the second half. I attempted only eight passes compared to 21 in the first half."
The Redskins used up over four minutes despite the Broncos holding nemesis Smith to one yard on each of his first two runs. On second down, Kelvin Bryant rumbled for 15y. Then Williams, playing with a brace on his left knee, hit Clark for 12y over the middle. Two incompletions followed, but the second one brought a hands to the face penalty for an automatic first down. When the next three snaps produced only 3y, Ali Haji-Sheikh tried a 46y field goal that hit the right upright.
Doug Williams hands to Kelvin Bryant.
The Denver possession consisted of three incompletions and a sack although an offsides penalty negated one of the incompletions. Not surprisingly, Dexter Manley got the sack. One pass was batted down by Charles Mann, and another went through the hands of Nattiel. That made Elway a shocking five for his last 24 passes. So Mike Horan punted to the Washington 30.
"We were able to get to John Elway and rattle his cage," remembered Manley. "He was not himself that day, but the media built him up so much so that he was like Superman. He can't do it by himself."
George Rogers finally made an appearance and converted two third downs with a 2y run and a 3y gain. Doug Williams completed two short passes to TE Don Warren and WR Ricky Sanders to eclipse Joe Montana's record for Super Bowl passing yardage. Then he threw deep to Clark, but Jeremiah Castille intercepted at the two.
The Broncos marched out to their 31 as Elway completed his first two passes to Mark Jackson for 10 and Nattiel for 13. Along the way, a roughing the passer penalty on S Alvin Walton negated a interception. But another Manley sack and three incompletions forced a punt to the Washington 40
Gary Clark took a reverse for 25y to end the scoreless quarter.
End of third quarter: Redskins 35 Broncos 10

Quarter 4

Smith started the final period with a bang, sprinting 32y through a big hole at left tackle to the Denver 11. In fact, the play was called "50-Bang" where the tight end comes in and traps the tackle. Then Smith ran into Williams as he took the handoff but still gained 7y to the four. Then Timmy finished the drive by crashing through a big hole at right guard into the end zone to become the first rookie to score two touchdowns in a Super Bowl. Redskins 42 Broncos 10

Tyrone Braxton tries to tackle Kelvin Bryant.
The Redskins now owned the Super Bowl record for yardage in a game with 541, breaking the record of 537 set by San Francisco in Super Bowl XIX.
ABC TV commentator Dan Dierdorff, a former NFL offensive lineman, said about the Redskins' Counter Gap, "I don't think I've seen one team run a play so many times in a game and seen the other team not do anything about it."
Coach Jerry Rhome remembered, "We must have run that Counter Gap maybe 25 times in the game. And what was great about what Joe Gibbs and those coaches were doing ... they had about six different ways to run it. One guy in motion, then this guy doing it, then the back would do it. We just kept changing. ... Gibbs was a master at formation motions and the system allowed us to do all that."
Smith: "Everybody says the holes were pretty big. I still had to run, I had to outrun the safety, I still had to outrun the linebackers, ou still have to do your part. The linemen were very experienced, they communiated, they did their job. ... That defense was not ready for those linemen."
Ken Bell foolishly ran the kickoff out of the end zone but got only to the 14. After Gene Lang took a handoff for 9y, Elway called seven straight passes. On the first one, he evaded the rush for 12y. The third one was a 27y completion to TE Clarence Kay for 27y to the Washington 38. Undaunted by Mann's 10y sack on the next play, Elway found Kay again for 11. But another sack, this one by Walton and Coleman, and a holding penalty that canceled a 32y completion forced a punt to the Washington 25.
The Redskins ran off the remaining 9:11 on the clock against the disspirited defense. Smith added 22y rushing to bring his total to 204 and break Marcus Allen's Super Bowl record for rushing yardage by 13 while Bryant contributed 18 and Rogers 12. Williams completed his only pass on the drive, 8y to Sanders. Keith Griffin, Archie's brother, was given a carry on the second-to-last play before Williams took a triumphant knee at the 13.
FINAL SCORE: Redskins 42 Broncos 10
Doug Williams nosed out teammate Timmy Smith to win the Most Valuable Player award.
Redskins GM Pete Beathard said years later: "They had John Elway. But everything we did went right. The difference in that game was Doug. I know Timmy ran for all that and probably the difference was we were able to run like that, but it couldn't have happened without Doug."
: "As we walked off the field, T Joe Jacoby came up next to me and patted me on the back. He said, 'Red, green, black or yellow, you're our quarterback."
embraced Coach Robinson on the field after the game. The coach also visited Doug in his hotel room that night. Doug remembered, "He said that the proudest moment he ever had in football was to be at that game and watched me perrform and be the Super Bowl MVP. He said it was like Joe Louis knocking out Max Schmeling. You will never understand, until you get older, the impact."
Watch the game ...




Monte Coleman rushes John Elway.

Todd Bowles nearly intercepts a pass intended for Ricky Nattiel.

Williams hands to Timmy Smith.

Keith Griffin

Eddie Robinson

Dan Henning

Final statistics
  • Time of possession: Redskins 35:15 Broncos 24:45
  • First downs: Redskins 25 Broncos 18
  • Rushing: Redskins 40-280 Broncos 17-97
  • Passing: Redskins 30-18-1/322 Broncos 39-5-3/230
  • Return yardage: Redskins 7-57 Broncos 8-106
  • Fumbles-Lost: Redskins 1-0 Broncos 0-0
  • Penalties: Redskins 6-65 Broncos 5-26
  • Punting average: Redskins 4-37.5 Broncos 7-36.1
  • Attendance: 73,302


Redskins Locker Room

  • Coach Gibbs wasn't worried when his team fell behind 10-0. "We've been down a lot this year. We were down 14 with the Bears (in the playoffs). But our team doesn't have panic in it. It has great character. We don't worry about it." Then came the second quarter and "the best I ever saw a Redskins team play."
  • The first question Doug Williams was asked was about the pressure of being the first black quarterback in the Super Bowl. "I didn't even feel it. I didn't come here as a showcase of black quarterbacks. I came here to do exactly what we did–win the Super Bowl. I'm black, and I can't do anything about it. The most important thing was to win the game. ... Redskin, black skin ... it all rhymes with win. I've been in the league for 10 years now. I feel blessed to finally have this chance."
    added, "All the talk about John Elway wasn't as much motivation for me as it was for the team. Nobody gave us a chance to win the game. I didn't come here with the concern of being the first black quarterback in the Super Bowl. I came here as the quarterback of the Redskins and to win the game."
  • Timmy Smith reflected on his first pro start. "Could I imagine all this? No, not in my wildest dreams. I've been thinking all week I wanted to accomplish something for myself, my teammates, and my family. A lot of guys play a whole career and never get this chance. I wanted to make the most of mine. ... When the coaches told me I'd be playing, I made up my mind I'd be the workhorse. When I started out here this year, I felt the coaches didn't have confidence in me. I felt I needed to do something to give them confidence in me."
    Smith never built on his sensational Super Bowl performance. "Right after the Super Bowl his agent wanted Smith to be paid like the top back in the league," GM Beathard said. "He went straight downhill after that game. We got all sorts of reports about cocaine and not working out. We couldn't agree on a contract because nothing in the world would satisfy him. He thought he had arrived."
    He started eight games for the Redskins in 1988 but gained only 470y in 155 carries for a poor average of 3.0 per attempt. His career ended with one game for the Cowboys in 1990.

Broncos Locker Room

  • Coach Reeves: "When we opened up a 10-point lead on them, I thought we were in good shape. We just couldn't stop them after they got it going. ... We had down who we felt was going to be the blitzer, and they changed that up and came with somebody else. They did a good job disguising their blitzes. ... As soon as they hit the big play, the momentum turned around. I don't know if devastating is the right word, but it'll do." Dan admitted, "They put a lot of pressure on John. Give their defensive backs credit. The coaches put them in man-to-man early."
  • Defensive coordinator Joe Collier explained why the Redskins amassed 280y on the ground. "We overloaded, and they kept running away from us all day. They seemed to know what we were doing. Or what we were trying to do. It helped open things up for their passing game."
    Collier would later point to two factors that contributed to the Redskins torching his defense: "I talked to Joe Bugel afterward. They just put up every defensive front and changes that we used and practiced their ass off against it. Consequently, when the game came up, nothing bothered them." Also, the Redskins' one-back, double-tight end offense forced the Broncos to play more straight-up defense.
    Redskins offensive assistant Dan Henning agreed with Collier. "We spent long hours saying, 'How can we set up so that we can eliminate confusion that this guy can cause with his defense?' Some of the formations and movements that we used were directly designed for that purpose. ... We were against an outstanding defensive coach with a group of feisty but little defensive people. As it turned out, I think Joe Collier tried to go overboard to take certain things away and, in turn, left other things open."
  • John Elway: "We got our tails kicked today, no questions. We lost to a better team today. ... It just got away from us sometime in the second quarter. They started making big plays and kept coming and coming. We knew we had to get the momentum back, make a big play. We just didn't do it. Not only did they get good pressure, they had their corners in our faces all day. We missed some opportunities but not 35 points worth." He admitted that all his personal accomplishments of the season were now academic. "Winning this game is what it's all about. All that other stuff is secondary."
    On his opposite number, Doug Williams: "He had a great day. The type of day he had, well, he was hitting 'em right between the numbers. I was happy for him. He's a class guy."
  • WR Mark Jackson offered a defense of his quarterback, sort of. "I'm certain we weren't getting that much coverage. John just wasn't clicking today. I don't know that they stopped the Three Amigos. I know I was open quite a few times." In Elway's defense, "he just wasn't getting time." Then again ... "Sometimes he got time but seemed confused."
  • LB Jim Ryan: "I'm embarrassed for myself and for the team."
  • LB Karl Mecklenburg said virtually the same thing. "I'm personally embarrassed. I don't want to ever go through this again."
  • Owner Pat Bowlen had hoped for redemption for his team after the 39-20 loss to the Giants in Super Bowl XXI. But all he could say was, "It was a good, old-fashioned butt-kicking."
    Vance Johnson recalled: "The word was back at home was that they hoped we didn't go to the Super Bowl anymore. It was a pretty sad moment to have to know we were going home with two losses. You might want to say that we made it to two of them, but now you've got two losses in the Super Bowl and that's what they remember."
Super Bowl XXII Champion Washington Redskins

Part 1 - SB XXII Pregame | Part 2 - SB XXII 1st Half