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Raiders Dismantle Redskins, Records in Super Bowl, 38-9

By Gary Pomerantz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Jan. 23, 1984

TAMPA, Fla., Jan. 22 -- The Washington Redskins' season of bold conquest ended today with the burgundy and gold battered and blue.

In the most one-sided game in 18 years of Super Bowls, the Los Angeles Raiders defeated the Redskins, 38-9, before 72,790 at Tampa Stadium, denying the Redskins' bid to win a second consecutive National Football League championship.

Many heroes created this domination by the Raiders (15-4), but the greatest hero of all was running back Marcus Allen. He ran for a Super Bowl record 191 yards on 20 carries, scoring two touchdowns against the league's top-rated run defense. This included a Super Bowl record 74-yard touchdown run at the end of the third quarter that increased the lead to 35-9, finishing the Redskins.

How strange it all seemed. The Redskins (16-3) had won 31 of their last 34 games, 11 straight before reaching what might have been their greatest moment. Instead of becoming the fifth defending champion to repeat, they suffered their worst defeate since a 38-7 regular-season loss to Pittsburgh in 1979.

"I guess 16 wins was all we could do," Coach Joe Gibbs said.

"Not only in my opinion are you the greatest Raider team of all time," Al Davis, the managing general partner, told his players in accepting the Raiders' third Super Bowl trophy from Commissioner Pete Rozelle, only Pittsburgh with four having won more. "I think you rank with the great teams to have ever played any professional sport."

From the start, the Raiders' defense dominated the Redskins' record-breaking offense, which had averaged 33.8 points a game average during the regular season. Cornerbacks Lester Hayes and Mike Haynes, showing the cool confidence of all-pros in man-to-man coverage, defused the Redskins' big-play receivers to the extent that Charlie Brown had only three catches and Art Monk one.

The Raiders held running back John Riggins, last year's Super Bowl MVP, to 64 yards on 26 carries, ending his record streak of six straight postseason games with at least 100 yards rushing.

The Redskins gained only 90 yards rushing, fewest this season, and for 32 carries the average was a miserable 2.8 yards. They gave up a season-high 231 yards, an average of 7.0 for the Raiders' 33 carries.

The Raiders sacked quarterback Joe Theismann six times and choked his numbers thusly: 16 of 35 passing for 243 yards, with two interceptions and no touchdowns.

"I could see the frustration in Riggins' face," said Raiders defensive end Howie Long. "I could see the fear in Theismann's face."

"Going into the game, we planned to play about 45 percent man-to-man coverage. By the fourth period, that had changed to about 95 percent. Why? Because the Smurfs cannot function properly with tight, physical man-to-man coverage," said Hayes. "The Smurfs . . . ha, ha, ha, Saturday night we forecasted the situation and we said we would score about 40 points and we like to be accurate." How strange it seemed to see the Redskins trailing, 21-3, at halftime. And it seemed even more strange that the Raiders' heroes to that point were named Derrick Jensen and Jack Squirek.

Jensen, a reserve tight end, blocked a first-quarter punt by Jeff Hayes, in formation at the 30, Jensen recovered the ball in an end zone pileup of three Raiders with no opponents in sight, for the game's first touchdown. It was the first time the Redskins had had a punt blocked this season.

And Squirek, a reserve linebacker, made the play that turned the game to the Raiders forevermore.

For one brief instant at the end of the half, the Redskins' offensive genius lapsed into buffoonery. Raiders punter had rolled his kick dead at the Washington 12 and only 12 second remained. The Raiders led, 14-3.

The Redskins' offense was struggling. Gibbs opted not to run out the clock. He opted not to throw deep, perhaps since cornerback Hayes stood 45 yards downfield, protecting against the big play.

Instead, Theismann dropped back into the end zone and threw a swing pass to running back Joe Washington in the flat.

The ball never reached Washington. Squirek leaped in front of him at the five-yard line for the interception, then ran into the end zone for the 21-3 touchdown.

Later came Gibbs' reasoning: "With 23 second (actually 12) left in the half, you have two choices: you can either fall on the ball or try to get something . . . I wanted to run something safe. It got us a 67-yard gain in the first game (against the Raiders). I was hoping we'd get 20 or 30 yards and maybe get a field goal . . .I didn't like the idea of falling on the ball."

"I was surprised when they threw it," said Squirek, who was covering Washington man to man on the play while the rest of the defense was in a prevent zone. "I was even more surprised when I caught it."

The Redskins needed to score quickly in the third quarter. They did, too. Seventy yards in nine plays, the last Riggins' one-yard touchdown run. Happily, that gave Riggins six consecutive postseason games with a touchdown, breaking the record of five turned in twice by Pittsburgh's Franco Harris.

Unhappily, and as the day's evil trend would have it for the Redskins, Mark Moseley's extra point was blocked by the Raiders' 6-foot-7 Don Hasselback. So the Redskins were only back to 21-9 with 10:52 left in the third quarter.

The Raiders struck back immediately with a nearly identical touchdown drive: 70 yards in eight plays.

The key play of this march came when rookie cornerback Darrell Green was cited for pass interference against wide receiver Malcolm Barnwell, giving the Raiders a 38-yard gain to the Redskins' 17.

Quarterback Jim Plunkett's pass was underthrown and Barnwell deftly slowed down. Green fell into him. Green argued the penalty, to no avail.

Soon thereafter, Allen ran five yards for the touchdown that enhanced the Raiders' lead to 28-9 with 7:06 left in the quarter. Allen made a sly move on the play, a quick-step that made free safety Mark Murphy dive and miss at the two before Allen dived into the end zone.

Five mintes later, opportunity came to the Redskins when cornerback Anthony Washington stripped the ball from wide receiver Cliff Branch and recovered the fumble at the Raiders' 36.MO< However, the Redskins couldn't capitalize on the turnover.

On fourth and one fron the 26, Riggins ran wide left, to the side of all-pro linemen Russ Grimm and Joe Jacoby. He was held to no gain, stopped by linebacker Rod Martin with 12 secnod left in the quarter.

On the next play, Allen thrust the knife into the Redskins' heart. He ran left, reversed the field, sliced up the middle and ran 74 yards into the evening. Touchdown. It was Raiders 35-9 with no time left in the third quarter, no hope left for the Redskins.,p. "I felt someone grab me from behind, but pulled away and then there was an alley," said Allen. "Darrell Green did not see me go by and I felt like I could outrun the rest of the guys. Cliff Branc hbrushed someone downfield . . . it was the greatest run I have ever had on this level.

You always dream of something like this happening. I never stopped to think about what to do. I just lef the instincts take over."

Chris Bahr kicked a 21-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter, giving the Raiders 38 points, another Super Bowl record. (Several teams had scored 35.)

In the final quarter, the Redskins were reduced to the frustrated state that so many other teams faced throughout this season.

Theismann said he told his teammates in the final minutes, "Let's play hard, go out with class. We've had a hell of a year."

Running back Washington said Theismann had also told them not to get involved in any fights at game's end.

"If it was closer I might feel worse," said Theismann, voted the league's most valuable player this season by the Associated Press. "But they kicked our butts. When you get your butt handed to you, you just make sure it doesn't happen again."

In the end, President Reagan was not on the phone with the team from Washington after all. And the Redskins were left with hollow explanations.

"No one wins all the time," said George Starke, the veteran right tackle penalized three times in the game.

"We had an offday," said tight end Clint Didier, who caught a team-high five passes.

"It was a great all-around performance by the Raiders," said Gibbs. "I'm very proud of our team."

"The last TD by Marcus Allen took the air out," said Joe Washington. "We were in so many second-and-longs and third-and-longs that it really hurt us. But the tone was set when they blocked that punt."

On the blocked punt, Jensen rushed from the middle and bounced off a block thrown at the line by Otis Wonsley. Didier, one of the Redskins' two blocking backs, turned the other way. Jensen was left free for the block, the pursuit of the ball and the first touchdown nearly five minutes into the game.

"I think they forgot about me," Jensen said.

The Redskins' special teams sought retribution and seemingly got it two minutes later when Hayes' next punt bounced off the elbow of the Raiders' Ted Watts, whose back was turned while he blocked near the Raiders' 45.

The Redskins' Greg Williams recovered his fifth fumble of the season, this at the 42. But Moseley, who missed on four of five field-goal kicks in the NFL title game victory over San Francisco two weeks ago, then missed wide left left on a 44-yard try with 6:16 left in the first quarter.

The Raiders' lead remained at 7-0 until Plunkett took to strafing the Pearl Harbor Crew in the Redskins' defensive backfield early in the second quarter.

It was a quick strafing: two completions to veteran wide receiver Cliff Branch, whose six receptions today give him 73 postseason catches, breaking the league record of 70 held by former Raiders receiver Fred Biletnikoff.

The first pass to Branch was a 50-yarder, as Branch sped deep down the middle between cornerbacks Washington and Green, taking the ball to the Washington 15.

Two plays later the Redskins tried one of their many blitzes. It didn't work. Branch curled over the middle, putting an effective head-fake on Washington near the goal line.

As the cornerback turned outside, Branch went inside and caught Plunkett's 13-yard touchdown pass, improving the Raiders' lead to 14-0 with 9:14 left in the half.

The 14-point deficit represented the Redskins' worst since they trailed the Raiders, 35-20, with 7:31 to play on Oct. 2. The Redskins rallied to win that game, 37-35.

Moseley kicked a 24-yard field goal, making it 14-3 with 3:05 left in the half. Most figured the half would end that way.

But on came that fitful, fretful scree pass to Washington that ended in Squirek's hands. In the Redskins' 27-17 Super Bowl XVII victory over Miami last year, Theismann dove to bat away a certain interception of a deflected pass by defensive end Kim Bokamper, who had his arms outstretched at the goal line. This time, Theismann was too far away to dive.

Gibbs spoke of the havoc that the 20 mph winds played on the Redskins' passing game. "When we saw it, I think it affected us," he said. "It definitely affected us."

© Copyright 1984 The Washington Post

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