It has been nearly a quarter century since the Redskins played in a Super Bowl so the feeling of playing on the biggest day in all of sports is foreign to most. There was a day when playing in one of these wasn’t so unusual. They played in five Super Bowls over a 19-year stretch with four of those trips coming during a brilliant golden-era 9-year span.
Despite the 23-year drought, there are still only five franchises in the league with more Super Bowl appearances than the Redskins. None of their five Super Bowl appearances ranks among the all-time great Super Bowl games but all five of them include memorable if not iconic Super Bowl plays and/or moments.
Here’s the list.
Super Bowl 7/The Garo Yepremian/Mike Bass play. Up 14-zip with just over two minutes left in the game and en route to completing the NFL’s only perfect season during the Super Bowl era, Miami kicker Garo Yepremian had his 42-yd field goal attempt blocked and comedy followed. Yepremian picked up the ball and made a frantic attempt to pass the ball to Larry Csonka. The ball slipped out of his hands and it went straight up in the air. Yepremian then attempted to bat the ball out of bounds but instead batted it back up into the air. It went right into the arms of Skins’ cornerback Mike Bass who returned the fumble 49 yards for a touchdown to make the score 14–7 with 2:07 left in the game. The Redskins got the ball back with 1:14 to go but couldn’t do anything with it and lost 14-7.
Super Bowl 17/70-Chip. Down 17-13 with just over ten minutes left in the game and facing 4th and 1, Joe Gibbs dialed up his trademark short-yardage play. “70-chip” sent Clint Didier in motion one way, and then brought him back the other way. When he reversed his motion, Miami DB Don McNeal slipped….not that it would’ve mattered much anyway. Riggo was a beast in that postseason and he put an exclamation point on his epic run by shedding McNeil and outrunning Lyle Blackwood to the end zone. Simply put, it’s easily the most memorable play in franchise history while also on the list of the most iconic in Super Bowl history.
Super Bowl 18/Rocket Screen. The Raiders were the better team that day in January of ’84 but what if Joe Gibbs has just told Joe Theismann to take a knee at the end of the first half? From their own 12-yd line with just 12-seconds left in the half, Gibbs called “Rocket Screen”. Theismann has told us in recent years that he tried to talk Joe out of it on the sideline but Gibbs turned to Theismann and said emphatically, “run it”. The defense was prepared for the play as Theismann had successfully completed an identical screen pass to Joe Washington for a 67-yard gain in their 37–35 victory over the Raiders earlier in the season.
In fact, Raider linebackers coach Charlie Sumner had sent Jack Squirek onto the field as a last-second substitution specifically to cover Washington. “I was mad,” said linebacker Matt Millen who had to run off the field to avoid a penalty. “I’d called a blitz, and I was cranked up for it, but he told Jack to play the screen and sent him in.” When Squirek saw Theismann look in the opposite direction to sell a throw to one side of the field, Squirek knew that Joe Washington was leaking out into the flat because the play was coming back to his side. The 12-yd interception return gave the Raiders a commanding 21-3 halftime lead.
Super Bowl 22/35-Point 2nd Quarter. Down 10-zip to the Broncos in Super Bowl 22, Doug Williams led a record-setting 35-point 2nd-quarter. On the Skins’ first play of the quarter, Williams went deep 80-yds to Rickey Sanders. Next Skins’ drive, Williams hit Gary Clark on a 27-yd touchdown pass for the lead. Their next drive went all of two plays. Williams to Clark for 16 yards followed by Timmy Smith’s 56-yd touchdown run….21-10. The next drive ended in a 50-yd touchdown pass to Sanders making Sanders the first player in Super Bowl history to record 2 touchdown receptions in a single quarter. Finally, one more Williams touchdown pass to Clint Didier to complete the record-setting Super Bowl output for a quarter.
In the second quarter alone, Williams completed 9 of 11 passes for 228 yards and 4 touchdowns; Smith rushed 5 times for 122 yards and a touchdown; and Sanders caught 4 passes for 168 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Super Bowl 26/Thurman Thomas’s Helmet. After the Redskins were forced to punt on the opening drive of the game, Buffalo’s offense took the field for the first time. But where was their Pro Bowl running back Thurman Thomas? He had misplaced his helmet and missed Buffalo’s first two plays. It’s consistently mentioned as one of the all-time Super Bowl blunders.