The real season would begin in two weeks.
The Atlanta Falcons opened the playoffs at RFK Stadium, and Falcons Coach Jerry Glanville attempted a Buddy Ryan routine. He poked fun at the Redskins, then took his players on a carefree tour of Washington monuments on the eve of the game. At RFK, Glanville held a Redskins helmet aloft as his team gathered round him before the kickoff.
But on a rainy, bitter-cold day, the Redskins dominated from beginning to end, winning 24-7. Years later fans would not remember Glanville or the game so much as the final moments when thousands of burgundy-and-gold giveaway seat cushions flew around the stadium in spontaneous celebration.
The next day brought a big surprise: The Lions defeated the Cowboys in their playoff game. The Redskins would not be facing archrival Dallas, the only team that had beaten them in a regular-season game that counted. So the Lions came to RFK Stadium for the NFC Championship, and the Redskins again took care of business, winning 41-10. It was on to Super Bowl XXVI in Minneapolis against the Buffalo Bills.
For Gibbs, it would be his fourth Super Bowl in 11 seasons. In his first meeting with his players, he warned them to spend the first week taking care of family needs and ticket requests. He told them to be prepared to concentrate only on football once they arrived in Minneapolis. Gibbs held a series of light practices that week at Redskin Park before the team boarded a plane for the Twin Cities. Only then did players get their game plan.
What followed was a week that could not have gone better. The Redskins spent mornings doing news conferences and attending team meetings and afternoons on the field. Their practices were so fierce that on Thursday, fearing a serious injury, coaches called a halt to them. "I wouldn't want to be playing us this week," a confident assistant coach told a reporter.
He was right. Amid the roars of the fans, including the many friends and associates Jack Kent Cooke had ferried to Minnesota on a chartered Boeing 747, the Redskins played a near-perfect game. They rolled up a 24-0 lead and hung on to win, 37-24. Rypien threw a pair of touchdown passes and took home the MVP trophy, but a lot of others had contributed on a day when the Redskins rolled up 417 yards and forced four turnovers. Clark and Monk caught seven passes for 227 yards. Safety Brad Edwards intercepted a pair of Jim Kelly passes.