Carry it he did. The Diesel gained 119 yards on 25 carries against the Lions, the start of a fabulous playoff run. The Riggo Drill became part of Redskins history, with diesel horns the sound-effect of choice for many.
For the next playoff contest the following week against Minnesota, Riggins missed the team meeting the night before the game, according to several sources.
"In the locker room before the game," Jacoby said, "John comes over to us, the offensive linemen. He says, `Ah, the old man is mad at me. I'm asking you to do a little more for me. I need gaping holes.' He gets halfway across the room and then walks back. He said, `On second thought, on those gaping holes, don't make them gaping. Just big enough to get five or six yards. I don't want to get 10 or 15 yards downfield and make a fool of myself falling down.' That was John, and then he goes out and gets 185 yards."
Whatever fueled the Diesel, he ran over and through the Vikings on that day for those career-high 185 yards on 37 carries. In addition, Theismann hit Garrett for an 18-yard touchdown pass, and the defense stopped Bud Grant's Vikings twice on fourth-down plays in Redskins territory. But the day will be remembered most for Riggins and his departure from the game.
With about a minute left and the 21-7 outcome secure, Gibbs sent in a replacement for Riggins, knowing he would get a resounding ovation. Riggins was a showman, however muddy and torn his uniform was that day, so he removed his helmet. Amid the roar, he bowed to one side of the stadium, bowed to the other side, and waved to adoring masses as he went off. "It was John Wayne and things you make movies out of," Casserly said.
Archrival Dallas was next. This was the third straight NFC championship game for the Cowboys. They had lost the last two, to the Eagles in 1980 and to Bill Walsh's 49ers in 1981, but the Cowboys came to town confident. For the Redskins, it was their first championship game in a decade, and the city of Washington was on edge with excitement. "That feeling of intensity thinking about it still sends a chill down my spine," said Darryl Grant.
The chants of "We want Dallas! We Want Dallas!" had been heard the prior two weeks, but they were deafening hours before the kickoff. "That is the loudest that stadium's ever been," Grimm said. "You could hear it in the locker room: 'We want Dallas! We want Dallas!' We were a young football team then, so everybody was pretty pumped up."