In January of 1992 the Buffalo Bills 15-3 coached by Marv Levy met the Washington Redskins still coached by Joe Gibbs 16-2 in Super Bowl XXVI in the Metrodome in Minneapolis.
The Bills had barely gotten by the Denver Broncos by a 10-7 score in the AFC championship game and were led by quarterback Jim Kelly who passed for 3844 yards and 33 touchdowns, running back Thurman Thomas with 1407 rushing yards and 631 receiving yards for a total of 2038 for 12 TD’s, receivers Andre Reed 1113 yards and ten TD’s and James Lofton 1072 and eight TD’s.
The Bills had a high powered offense that could score points quickly using their hurry up/no huddle scheme.
The defense was led by Shane Conlon with 122 tackles, Darryl Talley with 117 tackles, four forced fumbles, five interceptions and Cornelius Bennett with 107 tackles and four forced fumbles. All Pro defensive end Bruce Smith was injured and did not play.
The place kicker was Scott Norwood who converted on 18 of 29 field goal tries.
Washington was led by quarterback Mark Rypien who passed for 3524 yards and 28 touchdowns, former Brown Earnest Byner with 1048 yards rushing and 308 receiving for 1356 yards and five TD’s, Ricky Ervins who rushed for 680 yards, Art Monk 1049 receiving yards and 8 TD’s and Gary Clark who led the receivers with 1340 and 10 TD’s.
The place kicker was Chip Lohmiller who converted on 31 of 43 field goal attempts and the defense was led by Andre Collins with 151 tackles, one fumble recovery and two interceptions, former Chicago Bear and participant in Super Bowl XX Wilber Marshall 135 tackles, four forced fumbles and five interceptions and safety Brad Evans with four interceptions.
After a scoreless first quarter the Redskins scored two touchdowns and a field goal in the second quarter to take control of the game. A Lohmiller 24 yard field goal and a ten yard TD pass from Rypien to Earnest Byner and a one yard rushing TD by Gerald Riggs put Washington up 17-0 at the half.
Buffalo got on the board in the third quarter with a 21 yard field goal by Scott Norwood and a one yard rushing TD by Thurman Thomas but could make no headway against the Redskins as they scored TD’s on another Gerald Riggs run of two yards and to Gary Clark on a 30 yard scoring play from Mark Rypien leaving the score 31-10 after three quarters.
Washington had two field goals by Chip Lohmiller to open the scoring in the fourth quarter from 25 and 39 yards out to make the score 37-10 before the Bills made a move with two TD passes by Jim Kelly, one to Pete Metzelaars for 2 yards and another to Don Beebe for four yards but it was too little too late and the Redskins win 37-24.
Mark Rypien with 18 of 33 passing for 292 yards, two TD’s and one interception and was not sacked got the game MVP. In contrast Jim Kelly was 28 of 58 for 275 yards but had four interceptions and was sacked five times. The Washington defense made the difference by putting more pressure on Kelly than Buffalo without Bruce Smith was able to place on Rypien.
It was Joe Gibbs third Super Bowl win in ten years but the Redskins have not been back to the Super Bowl since. The Bills were back the next year for their third consecutive Super Bowl as they lost their second in a row.
Joe Gibbs coached one more season and then turned his attention to auto racing, forming Joe Gibbs Racing and winning 330 races since he formed that team. He is a member of the NASCAR and pro football Hall’s of Fame.
Ron Griffitts a contributing columnist for the Daily Advocate