Super Bowl XXII: Williams And Washington Destroy Denver In One Quarter

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Team 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
Washington Redskins 0 35 0 7 42
Denver Broncos 10 0 0 0 10

Jack Murphy Stadium, San Diego, California | January 31st, 1988
Attendance: 73,302

Scoring Summary

First Quarter:
Denver – Nattiel, 56 yard pass from Elway (Karlis kick)
Denver- Karlis, 24 yard field goal

Second Quarter:
Washington – Sanders, 80 yard pass from Williams (Haji-Shiekh kick)
Washington – Clark, 27 yard pass from Williams (Haji-Shiekh kick)
Washington – Smith, 58 yard run (Haji-Shiekh kick)
Washington – Sanders, 50 yard pass from Williams (Haji-Shiekh kick)
Washington – Didier, 8 yard pass from Williams (Haji-Shiekh kick)

Third Quarter:
No Scoring

Fourth Quarter:
Washington – Smith, 4 yard run (Haji-Shiekh kick)


Player Statistics


Washington – Williams 18/29 340 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT

Buffalo – Elway 14/38 257 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT


Washington – Smith 22/204* 2 TDs, Bryant 8/38, Clark 1/25, Rogers 5/17, Griffin 1/2, Williams 2/ -2, Sanders 1/-4

Buffalo – Lang 5/38, Elway 3/32, Winder 8/30, Sewell 1/-3


Washington – Sanders 9/193, Clark 3/55 1TD, Warren 2/15, Monk 1/40, Bryant 1/25, Smith 1/9, Didier 1/8 1 TD

Buffalo – Jackson 4/76, Sewell 4/41, Nattiel 2/69 1 TD, Kay 2/38, Winder 1/26, Elway 1/23, Lang 1/7


Washington – Wilburn 2 / 11 yards, Davis 1 / 0 yards

Buffalo – Castille 1 / 0 yards


Washington – Sanders 1 / WAS recovered (Caldwell)

Buffalo – 0


Setting The Stage

It was nauseating the hype coming into this game. So many ‘pundits’ happy to see Reeves and Elway “finally get their shot” at a Super Bowl ring.

I couldn’t stand either guy, and was personally just wondering how they were going to stop an out-of-control steam roller. Obviously they didn’t.

Redskin legend has it that the decision to start a relatively unproven, unheard of Timmy Smith, may not have been a gut instinct from Joe Gibbs.

Timmy Smith?

Rumor is, that a certain veteran or veterans, went to Gibbs and said that they thought Smith should play. The reason? Smith had stuck with the Players Union during the strike that season, and not considered crossing picket lines. Word was, that wasn’t true of all the running backs.

Holy Molars!

Doug Williams was named the starter, but it very nearly didn’t happen.

Williams had to have emergency root canal surgery in the middle of the night, before his MVP performance in Super Bowl XXII. Talk about Warrior Spirit!

– Mark Solway

Road to SB XXIISB XXII Rosters


Williams And Washington Destroy Denver In One Quarter

For fans of both the Denver Broncos and the Washington Redskins, watching Super Bowl XXII was like watching two separate contests.

The Redskins won the toss and elected to receive the opening kickoff, however a quick three and out resulted in a punt.

Early Dagger

On Denver’s first play from scrimmage, wide receiver Ricky Nattiel started the scoring, taking a John Elway pass  56-yards to pay dirt. The Broncos held a 7-0 lead less than two minutes into the first quarter.

Broncos Add More

Washington’s next possession did not fare much better. Gary Clark dropped his second drive-ending pass of the game. Elway drove the team 61 yards in just over two minutes, including a 32-yard pass to Mark Jackson and a 23-yard pass to running back Steve Sewell. The drive stalled on the Washington 7 yard line though, and Denver kicker Rich Karlis pushed a 24-yard kick through the uprights.

Williams Gets Hurt

Washington quarterback Doug Williams was sacked and twisted his knee late in the first quarter. This forced Coach Joe Gibbs to replace Williams with Jay Schroeder.

Schroeder was unable to move the ball and the team was once again forced to punt.

The Broncos ended the first quarter and started the second with an extended three and out. Broncos punter Mike Horan sent a 36-yard punt into the end zone. This marked the beginning of what is known in Redskins history as, “The Quarter”.
Ricky Sanders SB XXIITimmy Smith SBXXII


Doug Williams returned to the field, and stealing a page from the Broncos’ first quarter antics, lined up on the 20 and fired a pass to streaking Ricky Sanders. Sanders caught the ball on the Washington 48-yard line and took it to the end zone, for a 1 play, 80-yard touchdown. It lasted all of 10 seconds.

Williams and the Redskins added four more touchdowns on consecutive drives for a total of 35 points in the second quarter.

Williams hit Gary Clark for a 27-yard strike, followed by a 58-yard touchdown run by Timmy Smith. Sanders then added a 50-yard touchdown reception and Clint Didier finished off the historic quarter with an 8-yard pass. No team, before or since, has played a better quarter of football on this stage.

Over At The Half

The score coming into the second half was 35-10. Denver having coasted to a 10-0 lead in the first six minutes of the game, never reached the end zone again.

That had everything to do with Barry Wilburn’s two interceptions and the 5 sacks turned in by a smothering Washington defense.

Smith Gets Touchdown and Super Bowl Record

Timmy Smith finished off the scoring with a 4-yard scamper early in the fourth quarter, and finished the game with a Super Bowl record 204-yards.

Most Valuable Player

To nobody’s surprise, Williams was named the game’s MVP after finishing 18 of 29 for 340 yards with four touchdowns. He found seven different receivers, including favorite target Ricky Sanders nine times for 193 yards and two of the touchdowns.

Washington had won its second Lombardi Trophy in 5 years, defeating Denver 42-10.

Gibbs had won his second Super Bowl with his second quarterback.

He wasn’t done yet!



Fan Reactions

Frank Hastings“Ricky Sanders had a huge day thanks to Doug Williams and superb offensive line protection – that had been with the team throughout the season. Timmy Smith was another beneficiary of an offensive line that not only provided superior pass protection, but also could flat out run block. 204 yards rushing in the Super Bowl, are you kidding me? I remember thinking to myself, ‘who the heck is Timmy Smith?’ and ‘how dominant is he going to be next season?’. Just goes to show you, one huge, even record setting game in the Super Bowl, does not promise or guarantee future success. “

Danny Carmical“I remember being 10, living in Germany where my dad was stationed, and the Super Bowl didn’t start until midnight. I was amazed at the total domination the Redskins had over Denver in that game. That’s when the first drops of Burgundy & Gold flowed through my veins.”

Scott Peek“I remember telling my friend during the first quarter, “Don’t worry, it’s only 10 points”, and then the Skins erupted. That may have been the most joyous quarter of football I have ever experienced.”

Dan Hines“I was stationed in San Antonio; all my friends were Cowboys fan. We had a huge SB party at one of my friends house. After the long TD pass by Elway, they gave it to me good, then Doug Williams and company went on their history making run in the second quarter. My friends got so mad they turned the game off. I had to go home to see the second half!!”


Did You Know?

Timmy Smith could have easily been named the game’s MVP for his record breaking 204 yards rushing on just 22 carries. The Redskins 35-point second quarter (also a record) was helped greatly by 122 yards from Smith, including a 58-yard TD. Amazingly, Smith only managed 126 yards during the entire 1987 season. He would play just 15 more games in the NFL after his record setting performance.

The numbers from the Redskins’ 2nd quarter alone would match a lot of complete NFL games. Five scores for 35 points, 356 total yards, including 228 passing by Williams (9 of 11), 122 yards on five carries by Smith, and 168 yards on 5 receptions by Sanders. The five touchdowns came in 18 plays covering just 5 minutes and 47 seconds of possession time. Explosive!

The 1987 NFL season featured games played by replacement players as the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) players were on strike from weeks four to six. The strike started after the second game of the season, and the schedule was reduced to fifteen games. Washington had a very tense Monday Night matchup with the Cowboys in Week 5, when many Cowboys regulars crossed the picket line to play the replacement Redskins. The Cowboys got spanked at home in front of a National audience, by a quarterback that was taken from his jail cell to play.

More Information

SB XXII Team Statistics

Photo Credits:

Doug Williams – Photo by Rick Stewart / Getty Images
Ricky Sanders – Photo by Reed Saxon / AP Photo
Timmy Smith – Photo by Bettman / Getty Images


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