In January 1984 the Los Angeles Raiders 14-4 met the Washington Redskins 15-3 in Tampa Stadium in Tampa, Florida in Super Bowl XVIII. The defending champion Redskins werestill coached by Joe Gibbs while the Raiders were led by Tom Fiores.
The Redskins returned pretty much the same team as the year before with quarterback Joe Theismann passing for 3714 yards, 29 touchdowns and 11 interceptions and fullback John Riggins as one of the most punishing backs in pro football rushing for 1347 yards and 24 touchdowns.
Joe Washington added 772 rushing yardage and wide receivers Charlie Brown 1225 yards, eight touchdowns and Art Monk 746 yards and five touchdowns rounded out the offensive leaders.
Mark Moseley made fourteen of nineteen field goal attempts and on defense Dave Butz led in sacks with 11.5 followed by Dexter Manley with 11 and Tony McGee with ten.
Greg Williams recovered four fumbles while Vernon Dean had three as well as four interceptions. Mark Murphy led the Redskins with nine interceptions.
Jim Plunkett again quarterbacked the Raiders with 2935 yards and 20 touchdowns while his favorite receivers were Todd Christensen with 1247 yards and 12 TD’s and Cliff Branch with 696 yards.
Marcus Allen was their leading rusher with 1014 yards and nine TD’s while Frank Hawkins added 526 rushing yards.
The place kicker was still Chris Bahr who made 17 of 21 field goal attempts while on defense Vann McElroy led with eight interceptions and Rod Martin hero of Super Bowl XV had four.
Future Hall of Famer defensive end Howie Long who is now a broadcaster led the team in sacks with thirteen and Greg Townsend had 10.5.
The Raiders were playing well as they had dispatched the Steelers 38-10 and the Seahawks 30-14 to reach the Super Bowl. The Redskins had blown out the Rams 51-7 in their first playoff game but had a close game, winning 24-21 over Joe Montana and the 49ers as after leading 21-0 after three quarters, the 49ers scoredthreetouchdowns to tie the game and it took a Mark Mosely field goal to win the NFC title for the Redskins.
TheWashington was a slight three point favorite to win the game.
The first quarter was scoreless except for a Washington punt that was blocked and recovered in the end zone for a touchdown and the Raiders lead 7-0.
In the second quarter the Raiders increased their lead to 14-0 with a 12 yard TD pass from Plunkett to Cliff Branch. Mark Moseley added a field goal for Washington and with twelve seconds left in the half a Theismann pass from his own 12 yard line was intercepted by Jack Squirek and returned for a score and the Raiders are up 21-3 at the half.
From that last play you see why teams usually try a running play or take a knee when they are that close to their own goal linewith just a few seconds left on the clock as an interception is too big a risk with a passing play.
Without the two turnovers being turned into touchdowns it would be a 7-3 game.
With eleven minutes left in the third quarter Washington finally got a touchdown on a two yard John Riggins run but the Raiders answered with a five yard Marcus Allen touchdown and pretty much sealed the win as with 12 seconds left in the quarter Allen took an end around run and went 74 yards for a score to make the score 35-9.
I remember watching that game and everyone was waiting for John Riggins to get loose and dominate the game but the Raider defense did not let that happen as they controlled the game. Riggins rushed for only 64 yards on 26 carries while the Raiders Marcus Allen went 191 yards on 20 carries.
In contrast in the previous year’s winning Super Bowl against Miami Riggins ran for 166 yards and two touchdowns.
Chris Bahr kicked a field goal in the fourth quarter and the final score was 38-9 with Allen getting the game MVP. Washington returned in 1988 and the Raiders back in Oakland would return in 2003.
Ron Griffitts a contributing columnist for the Daily Advocate