Jan. 26, 1992 Minneapolis
Redskins Win Super Bowl, 37-24
By William Gildea
MINNEAPOLIS, Jan. 26 Artificial turf or grass, indoors or outdoors, no huddle or huddle, the Washington Redskins proved conclusively this evening that they are the champions of football no matter how it's played.
Similar to their Super Bowl victory four years ago, the Redskins used a second-quarter blitz to take control, this time scoring 17 consecutive points in a span of 5 minutes 45 seconds to breeze past the supposedly faster Buffalo Bills, 37-24, to capture Super Bowl XXVI at the Metrodome.
Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke, in accepting the Vincent T. Lombardi Trophy for the third time in 10 years, hailed Gibbs, everyone associated with the team and "the best bloody fans on the face of the earth." As his record of achievement soared still higher with a third National Football League title, Gibbs said quietly, "I feel humble. The Lord's blessed me with a great situation. The players have really responded."
Quarterback Mark Rypien, the game's most valuable player, sealed the victory with his second touchdown pass, a 30-yarder to wide receiver Gary Clark in the third period after the Bills had cut the lead to 24-10. Just as he did when he made a game-clinching scoring catch against Detroit in the National Football Conference title game, Clark ignited a celebration of Redskins' fans here. Up went a sign that read, "Hail, Yes!"
"I have no thoughts about stepping away from this," said Gibbs, ending any faint speculation he might retire after this, his 11th season. A disappointed Buffalo coach, Marv Levy, admitted after the Bills' second straight Super Bowl defeat, "Their team's better. They showed it."
The Redskins showed it with an onslaught that has typified their 17-2 season. Rypien completed 18 of 33 passes for 292 yards, with Clark making seven catches for 114 yards and Art Monk seven more for 113 yards. Ricky Ervins rushed for 72 yards and Earnest Byner 49 to go with 24 receiving yards plus the game's first touchdown. Chip Lohmiller kicked three field goals. Wilber Marshall, Brad Edwards, Kurt Gouveia, Fred Stokes and Darrell Green led a defense that overwhelmed Buffalo's heralded quarterback, Jim Kelly, and running back Thurman Thomas.
Rypien couldn't have been more correct when he said, "It was a team victory."
Kelly gave the Redskins credit "where credit is due. I remember some of the game but not all of it. The part I remember I don't like."
It's become a familiar feeling in Washington, the Redskins having defeated Miami, 27-17, in Super Bowl XVII and Denver, 42-10, in Super Bowl XXII.
Meanwhile, absolute frustration undid the Bills. Thomas could not find his helmet, which was under the team bench, the first two plays of the game. Earlier this week, Thomas likened himself to Michael Jordan, but Jordan has always had his Air Jordan sneakers when needed.
"We made a lot of mistakes," said Thomas.
Kelly tied a Super Bowl record with four interceptions. Behind and desperate, he was forced to throw a Super Bowl record 58 times, while Thomas was able to get only 10 carries for 13 yards.
"It hurts, without a doubt it hurts," said Bills deffensive end Bruce Smith. Levy concurred: "The feeling," he said, "is very bitter."
"Hail to the Redskins" echoed through the dome as so much went wrong for the Bills and the Redskins proved too determined, too big, too efficient.
Buffalo backfires ignited the Redskins. A 23-yard punt put the Redskins in position for their first touchdown drive, a swift 51 yards in five plays with Byner getting the score. Down 10-0, a frustrated Kelly put up a long, lazy pass that was intercepted easily by Green, setting off an almost duplicate scoring drive of 55 yards in five plays.
From the beginning the Redskins moved with ease. On its second possession, Washington marched 87 yards in the first quarter in a textbook drive.
But the Redskins came up empty when replay officials ordered the first touchdown reversal in Super Bowl history. Monk, playing the finest Super Bowl of his distinguished career, had his left foot on the backline of the end zone on a third-down pass from Rypien. On the ensuing field goal attempt, the usually sure-handed Jeff Rutledge fumbled the snap.
Throughout the day attention focused on the Redskins, even before the kickoff.
About 2,000 American Indian Movement demonstrators, who object to the Redskins' nickname and want it changed, marched through downtown Minneapolis and picketed the dome. They carried such signs as "I'm Not A Mascot," "This Ain't No Game, Change Your Name" and "D.C. Racism."
"Braves on the warpath . . . " sang a Washington fan in his Redskins wool cap inside the dome, oblivious to the demonstration.
So were others, who used the final hours before kickoff to keep partying. When it didn't seem possible to party any more, Bills' backers and Redskins' rooters thundered about the city this morning asking, "Where's the party?"
It was a question with many answers. If the Super Bowl had become a holiday across America, the celebrations were most intense in the Twin Cities.
The Metrodome, the smallest Super Bowl stadium, filled up early for pregame festivities -- a cozy 63,130 under the big top. But there was no room for a coat check.
After bundling up against the cold to take a few steps from their limos or chartered buses into the dome, people enjoyed the announced indoor temperature of 73 degrees, all of which left people sitting on or holding massive amounts of winter clothing.
The Donald and Marla sat in the stands to the amazement of ticketholders nearby. Marla held her fur.
Most other rich and famous occupied skyboxes. But there were those good, hearty, week-in, week-out diehards who would have trekked to Anchorage by dog sled for this. The inside of the dome may be loud for baseball, but it would be hard to duplicate a spontaneous pregame "Let's Go Buffalo" chant that erupted along the narrow concourse.
Irma Fox and Loretta Horn, both from Vienna, Va., walked proudly and fearlessly among Bills' fans. Each wore a Redskins' feather in her hair. Redskins fans brimmed with confidence -- but a quiet one compared with Buffalo fans wearing plastic "hard hats."
Bill Engelman of Washington, who wore an Indian headdress and an Art Monk jersey, said he has a good friend working for the Navajo cause but that, "To me, I'm supporting my team -- a team that's been in Washington a long, long time."
The Redskins responded with waves to their fans as they took the field, as well as a thumbs up for Mike Utley, the Detroit Lion who was paralyzed during a regular season game.
But by early in the third period there seemed precious few Bills' fans as the Redskins had struck dramatically and decisively for 24 points and "Fight for old D.C." echoed throughout, making the dome sound like RFK Stadium. It would be the song echoing through the streets of the Twin Cities long into the night, as Washington's fans hailed a long and glorious season.