In January of 1988 the Denver Broncos 12-4-1 coached by Dan Reeves a former player at Dallas under Tom Landry who had replaced Mike Shanahan, met the Washington Redskins 14-4 coached by Joe Gibbs in Super Bowl XXII.
The Broncos were again led by quarterback John Elway who threw for 3198 yards and nineteen TD’s, Sammy Winder who rushed for 741 yards and six TD’s, Ricky Nattiel who had 630 receiving yards, Vance Johnson 684 and seven TD’s, ClarenceKay 440 yards and Mark Jackson 436.
The defense was led by Karl Mecklenburg with 97 tackles, seven sacks and three interceptions, Rulon Jones with seven sacks and Mike Harden with four interceptions.
They had again defeated the Cleveland Browns in the AFC Championship game 38-33 in Mile High Stadium in Denver.
The Redskins were led by quarterback Doug Williams who despite starting only two games and losing both, was selected as the starter for the playoffs over Jay Schroeder who had started ten games.
They were led in rushing by George Rogers with 613 yards and six TD’s and by Kelvin Bryant with 406 rushing and 490 receiving yards and seven TD’s. Art Monk had 483 receiving yards and Gary Clark led that team with 1066 yards and seven TD’s.
The place kicker was Ali Haji-Sheikh who made 13 of 19 field goal attempts and the defense was headed up by Monte Coleman who had two interceptions, four sacks and 107 tackles, Charles Mann with 9.5 sacks and 80 tackles, Dexter Manley with 8.5 tackles and Barry Wilburn who led the NFL with nine interceptions.
The game was played in Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego and all of the first quarter scoring belonged to the Broncos as they scored on a 56 yard pass play from John Elway to Ricky Nattiel and on a 24 yard field goal by Rich Karlis to lead 10-0 after the first quarter.
But the momentum of the game changed dramatically in the second quarter as the Redskins erupted for five touchdowns, two from Doug Williams to Ricky Sanders for 80 and 50 yards, one to Clint Didier for eight yards, one for 27 yards to Gary Clark and a 58 yard rushing TD by Timmy Smith.
The big plays really worked for Washington.
There was no scoring in the third quarter and Timmy Smith added a four yard TD in the fourth quarter with the final score being 42-10 Redskins as the Washington defense had shut out the Broncos for the last three quarters of the game.
Doug Williams got the game MVP for his four passing TD’s while the Washington defense was rough on Elway who was only 14 0f 38 for one TD but was intercepted three times, two of them by Barry Wilburn, and sacked five times.
Denver would be back in the Super Bowl two years later against the 49ers and the Redskins would be backin 1992 against Buffalo.