Metrodome, Minneapolis, Minnesota | January 26th, 1992
Washington – Field Goal Lohmiller 34, 1:58
Washington – Byner 10 yard pass from Rypien (Lohmiller kick), 5:06
Washington – Riggs 1 yard run (Lohmiller kick), 7:43
Buffalo – Field Goal Norwood 21, 3:01
Buffalo- Thomas 1 yard run (Norwood kick), 9:02
Washington – Clark 30 yard pass from Rypien (Lohmiller kick), 13:36
Washington – Field Goal Lohmiller 25, 0:06
Washington – Field Goal Lohmiller 39, 3:24
Buffalo – Metzelaars 2 yard pass from Kelly (Norwood kick), 9:01
Buffalo – Beebe 4 yard pass from Kelly (Norwood kick), 11:05
Washington – Rypien 18/33 292 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Buffalo – Kelly 28/58 275 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT
Washington – Ervins 13/32, Byner 14/49, Riggs 5/7 2 TDs, Sanders 1/1, Rutledge 1/0, Rypien 6/ -4
Buffalo – Davis 4/17, Kelly 3/16, Thomas 10/17 1 TD, Lofton 1/-3
Washington – Clark 7/114 1TD, Monk 7/113, Byner 3/24 1 TD, Sanders 1/41
Buffalo – Lofton 7/92, Reed 5/34, Beebe 4/61 1 TD, Davis 4/38, Thomas 4/27, McKeller 2/29, Edwards 1/11, Metzelaars 1/2 1 TD, Kelly 1/-8
Washington – B. Edwards 2 / 56 yards, Gouveia 1 / 23 yards, Green 1 / 0 yards
Buffalo – Jackson 1 / 4 yards
Washington – Rutledge 1 / WAS recovered, Stokes 1 / BUF recovered
Buffalo – Jackson 1 / 4 yards
Setting The Stage
The Redskins team that won Super Bowl XXVI was one of the greatest teams ever assembled. They’re easy to dismiss because of the ‘generic’ talent, but their domination was undeniable.
Mark Rypien had a career year. A year that he would never again duplicate. There were basically two reasons for his success. He threw the long pass with unparalleled success and accuracy. It seemed every time ‘Ryp’ aired it out, it flew squarely into the outstretched arms of a receiver in full stride. And he also received the best pocket protection that an NFL quarterback had ever seen or has since seen. Version two of the Hogs allowed an incredible 9 sacks in 18 regular and post season games
I remember the TV crew interviewing both Jim Lachey and Bruce Smith before the game. It wasn’t anything either of them said, it was that after both interviews, the commentator remarked that he was shocked and to paraphrase him, ‘and that it was usually the defensive players that were the intense guys’. Lachey was normally very quiet, but the fire in his eyes that day was unmistakeable.
I also remember – quite fondly – the Thurman Thomas helmet fiasco. I knew the Redskins were in good shape when the Bills had to run their first series with Kenneth Davis because Thomas could not find his helmet. It wasn’t because of the drop in talent between Thomas and Davis. It just went hand-in-hand with the interview portion that I’d seen earlier – the Redskins were ready to play, the Bills were not.
They say big games often come down to coaching and on that day, Marv Levy was certainly no match for Joe Gibbs.
– Mark Solway
Washington Hammer The Bills
1991 was the Buffalo Bills second consecutive Super Bowl appearance, in what would become a dubious four-year run of frustration and disappointment. Many expected this Super Bowl to be a high-scoring affair as the leagues top two offenses went toe-to-toe. That prediction seemed to be erroneous at the close of a scoreless first quarter, as neither team had been able to get rolling.
The Redskins wasted two drives inside the Buffalo 10-yard line with a botched field goal attempt and a Kirby Jackson interception on the 7-yard line. Including Jackson’s interception, the league’s two absolute best offensive units combined for two three and outs, a fumbled snap, and two interceptions.
On the Board
It wasn’t until early in the second quarter that Chip Lohmiller finally ended the scoring drought with his 34-yard field goal. This seemed to be a catalyst for the sleeping Redskins offense as they would score on the following two drives as well.
After the Redskins defense forced another three and out, Mark Rypien and Earnest Byner went to work. Rypien hit Gary Clark on the left sideline for a 16-yard gain, followed by a 6-yard scamper for Byner. Rypien then hit another pass to Monk for 8-yards. Rypien tried Monk again, resulting in an incompletion, but Buffalo LB Cornelius Bennett picked up a roughing the passer call, moving the ball half the distance to the goal.
Byner then rumbled right for a 1-yard pick-up, before increasing the Washington lead to ten with a 10-yard reception for the first touchdown of Super Bowl XXVI.
After the ensuing kick-off, Jim Kelly threw an incomplete pass, followed by his second interception of the day to Darrell Green. Washington took the turnover opportunity and ran with it. After picking up a first down from an illegal contact penalty on a deep pass to Monk, Ricky Ervins picked up a yard. Rypien hit Clark across the middle for a 34-yard pick-up and Ervins took it another 14 to the Buffalo 1-yard line.
As he had all season, Gerald Riggs came in to take it in for a 1-yard score.
Riggs’ touchdown ended the second quarter excitement, as the two teams combined for five punts before Mark Rypien knelt at the Washington 33 to end the half; the score Washington 17, Buffalo 0.
On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, the Washington pass rush hurried a Jim Kelly throw, and forced his third interception. Washington linebacker, Kurt Gouveia returned the interception 23-yards and the Redskins started at the Buffalo 2-yard line. Once again they called upon Riggs to bang it home and three seconds later, the Redskins had a commanding 24-0 lead.
Get One Back
Kelly was finally able to get his unit rolling against the smothering Redskins defense on the next possession. He hit 5 passes on the drive to get Buffalo down to Washington’s 3-yard line. All 10 plays on the drive were passing plays, including a 43-yarder to Don Beebe over the middle. The Redskins defense bent but didn’t break, and stuffed the Bills. Scott Norwood came out and finally put Buffalo on the board with a 21-yard field goal, reducing the deficit to 21 points.
The Redskins were unable to answer. Buffalo took over on their own 44-yard line after a Kelly Goodburn punt ricocheted off of punt returner Clifford Hicks and bounced out of bounds. The Redskins defense stiffened, but a 29-yard penalty on cornerback Martin Mayhew in the end zone put the Bills on the 1-yard line. After stuffing Thurman Thomas on first down and Kenneth Davis on second, Thomas was able to find running room on the left side for a score. Washington had seen their 24-point lead shrink to 14 points in just over 6 minutes.
Clark Takes Over
The Redskins started the next drive on their 21-yard line, and Gary Clark decided it was time to put his mark on the game. After receptions of 6, 10 and 14-yards respectively, Clark found the right corner of the end zone on a 30-yard strike from Rypien. Just like that, the 21-point lead was restored.
On Buffalo’s next drive, Washington’s defense resumed it’s dominating ways. Alvoid Mays crushed Jim Kelly on the 8-yard line, causing him to fumble. Redskins defensive end Fred Stokes recovered the ball on the Buffalo 14-yard line. Up by 21, with the ball, and heading into the fourth quarter. But the offense stalled after a holding penalty to Raleigh Mckenzie, and Washington had to settle for a 25-yard Lohmiller field goal.
To The House
But Kelly’s woes only continued. A sack, an incomplete pass, followed by a Brad Edwards 35-yard interception return. The Redskins mercifully opted for three straight time killing Ricky Ervins’ runs, before settling for a 39-yard field goal.
Buffalo tried desperately to come back. On the next possession, Pete Metzelaars capped off a 79-yard, 15 play drive with a 2-yard reception from Kelly. Buffalo recovered their onside kick attempt. They then cashed in a 9-play, 50 yard drive with a leaping catch from Don Beebe on a 4-yard pass. The Bills were within two scores at 37-24 with just under four minutes to go, but it was too little, too late.
You Can’t Stop This
The Redskins recovered the second Buffalo onside kick attempt. And even when the whole stadium knew that the Redskins were going to run the ball, the Bills defense couldn’t stop The Hogs and Ervins from peeling off 29 yards on three consecutive runs. The Bills used two of their timeouts to bring up a third and two with just two and a half minutes to go.
But the Hogs and Ervins lined up and did it again. They moved the chains for the last time, with a two-yard first down run that took the game all the way down to the two-minute warning. With only one timeout left to stop the clock, Rypien knelt 4 straight times to take the clock down to 25 seconds.
Coach Marv Levy went to the bench and brought in quarterback Frank Reich who had made a name for himself with his uncanny ability to put together amazing comebacks. There was no magic on this day however. Reich completed an 11-yard pass to Kenneth Davis before time expired.
The Washington Redskins had reached the pinnacle of their sport for the third time in 10 years, beating the Buffalo Bills 37-24.
Joe Gibbs did something no coach in NFL history had ever done (or has done since), he won his third Super Bowl with three different quarterbacks.
– Scott Hurrey
Danny Carmical – “That entire year had to be among the best year for any long time Redskins Fan. Total Domination amongst the majority of our opponents. Winning the Super Bowl was just icing on the cake. Brad Edwards was my MVP for that Super Bowl.”
Scott Peek – “What a Defense! We came out to hit that day, and hit we did! Jim Kelly was one battered QB after that game.”
Dan Hines – “The Skins absolutely dominated the league that year. I was living in California and went to the Thanksgiving Day weekend game against the Rams. The Skins won to go 12-0 and clinch the division. After the game we celebrated in the end zone with the Skins and the D.C. media. Nothing like going to a Skins road game!! I went to a sports bar on the base to watch the SB and there was a big reserve unit from Buffalo their on temporary duty. I ran my mouth so much before the game that they all asked me to put my money where my mouth was. I did and walked out after the game with a few hundred dollars.”
Did You Know?
Mark Rypien was born in Calgary, Alberta and was the first Canadian born player to ever start an NFL game. Obviously he was also the first Canadian to ever win a Super Bowl as well.
Check out the History page on Tony Kornheiser’s great Bandwagon column than ran along side of Washington’s epic 1991 run.