On Wednesday afternoon after practice, John Riggins went up to the Redskins' backfield coach, Don Breaux, with a question.
"He wanted to know what the Super Bowl rushing record was," Breaux said tonight. "He said he just felt like he could maybe get it. Here's a guy with so much confidence, and that's what he gave this football team.
"He felt he was unstoppable, and so did they."
And tonight, John Riggins got that Super Bowl record--Riggins right, Riggins left, Riggins up the gut or around the end.
When he was finished, he had gained 166 yards on 38 carries, both Super Bowl records, and scored a touchdown when the Redskins needed it most--43 yards in the fourth quarter to put his team ahead for good.
"Anybody know how many carries I had?" Riggins asked minutes after the game.
"Thirty-eight," someone called out.
"That's kinda on the verge of too much," he said, a large grin lighting up his face.
And what about the Hogs, came another question.
"They were magnificent," he said of an offensive line that constantly knocked the Miami Dolphins off the ball and on their backs.
"Yeah, I might even take 'em out to dinner."
Riggins said he did nothing different today than at any other time during the playoffs. "It was just your basic stuff, and the holes were there all night. You can't say enough about those guys."
His game-breaking touchdown run came on a play called 70 Chip. "Just a basic short-yardage play," Riggins said.
"It was a play we've been running all season, and I felt we were very close to breaking it a few times earlier in the game in short-yardage situations. A lot of times on third or fourth down in that situation, you'll get a hole like that open up and if you can get past the line, you've got a good shot at it.
"I just hit the hole. I think their guy (cornerback Don McNeal) might have slipped a little at the start and he couldn't hold on to me once I got to him.
"I'm still a pretty slow guy. I could go and tell you how fast I was and nobody would believe me."
And tonight, Riggins also admitted he found it somewhat hard to believe that he was the most valuable player in this Super Bowl game, particularly after he sat out the 1980 season in a contract dispute.
"This morning I was just thinking that two years ago I was sitting out there in Kansas listening to the coyotes howl at night," he said. "To think I'd be here, well, it's just a little hard to believe right now."
His teammates had no problems at all believing what Riggins had done.
"There is no one like John Riggins," quarterback Joe Theismann said. "He is the absolute greatest. extremely dedicated and one of the really true characters in this game. He gets one on one with a defensive back, and he is gone. You saw that tonight.
"In the offseason he goes out and lifts weights for the first time. His legs are so strong. He wears his hair in an Afro, a Mohican, bald, and now he's just curly headed John, and he played great."
"I love to block for John Riggins," said offensive guard Fred Dean. "Give him a crack and he does the rest. And tonight, we physically whipped their front line. That's what we wanted to do. We wanted to put pressure on their front people, and we just blew 'em away."
"The game started with a 50 gut (play) and ended with a 50 gut," said tackle George Starke. "We ran the same plays all day. Our plan to run the basic plays was there all day, we never had to go to plan B. We started out by running the ball well to the left.
"Football is the type of game where you work something until it doesn't work, and we had the left side all the day."
"Nah, I wasn't surprised about Riggins," said tackle Joe Jacoby. "I actually thought he could have done this all year. He needs the ball 20 to 25 times just to get warmed up."
Earlier in the week, there had been some concern about Riggins' health. He had suffered a leg twinge during Friday's practice and was held out of several plays as a precautionary measure.
"There was never any doubt about John being ready to play this game," said Breaux.
On Friday night, Riggins was asked about his sore leg. "Nah," he said, "I'm not gonna' play."
Then he smiled, just as he smiled tonight, a remarkable back with a record, said Breaux, "that will never be broken. Not in my lifetime. Unbelievable performance. Just unbelievable."