Earlier this week, ESPN published a ranking of the best teams from each NFL franchise to not win a Super Bowl. The 1983 Redskins placed seventh on that list, thanks to a 38-9 loss to the Los Angeles Raiders in Super Bowl XVIII.
Touting a high-powered offense led by Joe Theismann, the Redskins cruised to a 14-2 record in the regular season with their only losses decided by one point each. Fresh off a Super Bowl XVII victory over the Miami Dolphins, that 1983 squad boasted five Hall of Famers (including head coach Joe Gibbs), 10 AP all-pros and set a franchise record with 541 points.
“That may be the best team to have never won a Super Bowl,” center Jeff Bostic told ESPN. “You think about the ones you lost more than the ones you won. I can’t imagine what Bills players do.”
Washington rolled past the Los Angeles Rams, 51-7, in the divisional round, then squeaked by the San Francisco 49ers, 24-21, in the NFC championship game before meeting the Raiders.
In Week 5, the Redskins topped the Raiders, 37-35, but mistakes would plague the burgundy and gold in the two teams’ second meeting of the 1983 season, the one that mattered most. L.A.’s Derrick Jensen blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown five minutes into the game. A Jack Squirek pick-six made it 21-3 heading into halftime.
Even though the Redskins ranked last in pass defense that year, Raiders running back Marcus Allen ended up stealing the show, rushing for 191 yards and two second-half touchdowns on the way to winning the game’s MVP award.
ESPN says its rankings “are based on the actual scores from all games that season for each team, including postseason games, and represent the degree to which each team is better or worse than the league average of that season.”
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