January 13, 1992: Redskins Make It Super Bowl V, 41-10: Defeat Lions for NFC Title Bills Are Next

On a day that began with one tidal wave of emotion and ended with an old stadium rocking to its bones, the Washington Redskins swept back into the Super Bowl yesterday with a 41-10 victory over the Detroit Lions in the National Football Conference championship game.

Many of the 55,585 at RFK Stadium seemed to know that and stayed around for one last standing ovation. That ovation saluted a team that’s headed to its fifth Super Bowl, this one against Buffalo on Jan. 26 in Minneapolis. It’s the fourth in the last 10 seasons under Coach Joe Gibbs, and more important to the assorted veterans and coaches who endured two seasons out of the playoffs and last season’s second-round knockout in San Francisco, it’s the first in four years.

“This one is the sweetest by far,” 13-year linebacker Monte Coleman said. “It doesn’t compare to anything else in the world. I don’t know if I’ll have a chance to do this again.”

The sideline celebration began with wide receiver Gary Clark and center Jeff Bostic dumping a bucket of Gatorade onto Gibbs, who had dressed for the occasion in a waterproof warmup jacket and cap.

In the privacy of their locker room, there were hugs and smiles and emotions. There were 18 players returning to the Super Bowl, 29 others about to go to their first. “I didn’t realize what this meant until I walked in the locker room and saw some of the veterans crying,” second-year linebacker Andre Collins said. “Then I knew.”

Gibbs thanked everyone he said had had a part in this latest success, beginning with team owner Jack Kent Cooke, his coaches and the players and fans. He had a game ball for Glenn Brenner, the respected and popular Channel 9 sportscaster who on Saturday was discovered to have an inoperable brain tumor.

”The emotion of that stadium today is something I won’t forget,” Gibbs said. “That’s why you fight so hard to get the home-field advantage. It’s been a great ride for me as a coach this year, and I feel very humble. I certainly can’t take all the credit for this team’s success, and yet I get most of the credit. We’ve been so consistent and so focused all season. We’ve got a great mix of guys and that’s what makes great teams.”

He got another clean, efficent, relentless effort, beginning with defensive end Charles Mann and middle linebacker Kurt Gouveia forcing turnovers in the opening three minutes. The Redskins turned those into a 10-0 lead, and before the afternoon was over, they’d get another turnover, five sacks and five pass deflections, holding the run-and-shoot Lions to 95 second-half yards.

They would lead 17-10 at intermission, then stuff the Lions in the second half. An offense that couldn’t get going in the first half got a pair of long touchdown passes from Rypien. Cornerback Darrell Green’s 32-yard interception return for a touchdown finished the scoring.

Rypien, answering another challenge in a season when he has met them all, had a brilliant day, completing 12 of 17 passes for 228 yards and two touchdowns. Clark’s 45-yarder made it 27-10 and broke the Lions with 2:23 left in the third quarter.

Early in the fourth quarter, Rypien audibled to wide receiver Art Monk for a 21-yard scoring pass. He also hit tight end Terry Orr with a 45-yarder to set up another score. Gerald Riggs scored their first two touchdowns on short runs, the second a three-yarder on fourth and one when he bounced outside, and with linebacker Chris Spielman holding on, dived into the end zone.

The Posse caught 11 passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns. Monk caught five for 94 yards, Clark caught four for 77 and Ricky Sanders two for 12 yards with a couple of drops.

The Redskins rushed for 117 yards, with Earnest Byner getting 62 and Ricky Ervins 53.

Detroit running back Barry Sanders was held in check, gaining 44 yards on 11 carries as the Redskins chased him from sideline to sideline. Sanders lost a yard on two carries in the second half. Quarterback Erik Kramer completed 21 of 33 passes for 249 yards and a touchdown. But he was knocked down a half-dozen times and sacked four times.

Linebacker Wilber Marshall had three sacks and forced a fumble, Mann had a sack and a pass deflection and defensive tackle Jumpy Geathers blocked a field goal attempt.

So the Redskins rush into the Super Bowl, seemingly untouched. They’d opened the season with a 45-0 victory over the Lions, but this one was supposed to be different because Sanders didn’t play in the opener.

Nevertheless, the Redskins were still 13 1/2-point favorites. And the result was almost the same as the opener, with the Redskins rolling into the Super Bowl against the Buffalo Bills having beaten one playoff opponent by 17 and another by 31.

”They did a great job preparing for us,” Lions Coach Wayne Fontes said. “There’s no doubt they outplayed us.”

On the second snap of the game, Mann sprinted around rookie tackle Scott Conover and leveled Kramer. The ball came loose and defensive end Fred Stokes fell on it at the Detroit 11. Byner went up the middle for nine yards, and Riggs got the other two on a dive with 13:54 left in the first quarter.

Five plays into their second possession, the Lions lost it again when Kramer badly overthrew wide receiver Brett Perriman and hit Gouveia in the numbers at the Detroit 48. Gouveia returned the interception 38 yards down the left sideline, and the Redskins again had the ball on the Detroit 10.

Byner gained three on first down and four on second down. Rypien unloaded the ball on third down after getting pressure from end Dan Owens, and Chip Lohmiller’s 20-yard field goal with 10:58 left in the first quarter made it 10-0.

On a day when the Redskins were near perfect in a lot of areas, they were pushed around for a couple of possessions late in the first half as the Lions drove 75 yards for a touchdown and 76 yards for a field goal. Kramer was outstanding, going five for five on the touchdown drive and six of eight on the field goal drive. Cornerback A.J. Johnson’s pass deflection in the end zone probably saved a second touchdown and forced the Lions to settle for Eddie Murray’s 30-yard field goal.

That kick closed it to only 17-10 because the Redskins offense replied after the first Detroit score. Washington drove 73 yards in 11 plays with Riggs scoring on a three-yard run. With the running game sputtering, Rypien opened the drive by hitting Monk for 17. On third and five at the Washington 48, he hit Clark for six. Later in the drive, he dropped a 16-yarder between two defenders to Clark.

The Redskins went to the locker room leading 17-10 despite having rushed for 39 yards and having had the ball for just 11 of the 30 minutes.

”We were so fired up in the first quarter, that we were drained by the half,” Mann said. “We were also on the field most of the first quarter. The coaches reminded us at halftime that we’d have six months to rest when this is over. The offense came out in the second half and got a field goal. We stopped them on three and out, and we were off to the races after that.”

What defensive boss Richie Petitbon decided was to find out how Kramer would react to pressure. While defensive backs moved closer to take away the six-yard routes Kramer had been enjoying, he also moved Marshall to what amounted to defensive end and rushed five, six and seven players.

”You hit a guy and he’s either going to fold or become Joe Montana,” defensive tackle Tim Johnson said. “It was worth a try.”

Rypien hit Orr for 45 on the second play of the third quarter, and Lohmiller kicked a 28-yard field goal to make it 20-10.

Enter the blitz. On third and two, Geathers stormed toward Kramer, who dumped the ball away. Geathers blocked a 44-yard field goal try on Detroit’s next possession.

That was it. From his 27, Rypien hit Monk for 31. After three runs and a penalty, Rypien faked to Byner and hit Clark in stride for a 45-yard touchdown to make it 27-10 with 2:23 left in the third quarter.

”It was a great throw,” Clark said. “We tried that play all week in practice and didn’t hit it once. I didn’t think we’d call it. Basically, it was a great throw. I was able to get behind {cornerback Sheldon White}. I think he got caught up in the fake and I was able to get even. When it was in the air, I was able to get out in front.”

Rypien had to repeat the play to Clark twice and finally added: “I’m coming to you.”

One more possession and the Lions were toast. The Redskins got it at their 46, and Ervins rushed for five and zero, then on third and five, Rypien hit Monk for 13. Ervins gained 11 and four. Then Monk got behind cornerback Melvin Jenkins to make it 34-10 with 10:45 left.

Green, who left the game in the first period with a rib injury, returned in the second half to finish the scoring moments later when he stepped in front of a substitute Andre Ware’s pass and returned it 32 yards for a touchdown.