Super Bowl XVII: Riggins Runs Off Tackle And Into History

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Team 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
Washington Redskins 0 10 3 14 27
Miami Dolphins 7 10 0 0 17

Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California | January 30th, 1983
Attendance: 103,667

Scoring Summary

First Quarter:
Miami – Cefalo 76 pass from Woodley (Von Schamann kick), 6:49

Second Quarter:
Washington – Moseley 31 yard field goal, 0:21
Miami – Von Schamann 20 yard field goal, 9:00
Washington – Garrett 4 yard pass from Theismann (Moseley kick), 13:09
Miami – Walker 98 yard kick return (Von Schamann kick), 13:22

Third Quarter:
Washington – Moseley 20 yard field goal, 6:51

Fourth Quarter:
Washington – Riggins 43 yard run (Moseley kick), 4:59
Washington – Brown 6 yard pass from Theismann (Moseley kick), 13:05


Player Statistics



Washington – Theismann 15/23 143 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs

Miami – Woodley 4/14 97 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, Strock 0/3 0 yards


Washington – Riggins 38/166 yards 1 TD, Garrett 1/44 yards, Harmon 9/40 yards, Theismann 3/20 yards, Walker 1/6 yards

Miami – Franklin 16/49 yards, Nathan 7/26 yards, Woodley 4/16 yards, Vigorito 1/4 yards


Washington – Brown 6/60 yards 1 TD, Warren 5/28 yards, Garrett 2/13 yards 1 TD, Walker 1/27 yards, Riggins 1/15 yards

Miami – Cefalo 2/82 yards, Harris 2/15 yards


Washington – Murphy 1 / 0 yards

Miami – Blackwood 1 / 0 yards, Duhe 1 / 0 yards


Washington – Nelms 2 / 44 yards, Wonsley 1 / 13 yards

Miami – Walker 4 / 190 yards, 1 98 yard TD, Blackwood 2 / 32 yards


Setting The Stage

I think we each experienced those games in different ways, because we had a different history going in. Mine was as a lifelong fan, who had never seen the Redskins even in a playoff game until the ’71 season, Allen’s first year. Season after season of losses. Season after season when locals would cheer for the Colts because they won all the time.

Then the disappointment of SB VII, thinking, “No, Billy, how could you throw that interception”, and then, “Oh, if only Sonny could play”.

Then years of good football teams, but not class-A contenders. Years of Dolphins and Cowboys and Steelers.

Then the doubts in the ’82 season. Are they really this good? Wasn’t it just a fluke? And, even worse, what will they do in the playoffs with Art Monk out and Joe Washington hurt?

And then the amazing playoffs run, when the Hogs crushed every opponent, in a way that I don’t think any OL had before, or has since. Simple John Riggins right through the middle for five or more yards, play after play after play.

I remember talking with my friend Dave, from Oxon Hill. He said, “You know, there are young kids today who think the Redskins were always this good. Isn’t that something…”

– John Welch

Road to SB XVIISB XVII Rosters


Riggins Runs Off Tackle And Into History


After only his second season as Redskins head coach, Joe Gibbs found himself on the sidelines at the big dance. It was a strike shortened season, but the Redskins were in their first Super Bowl nevertheless.

Early Danger

Things looked bleak for the ‘Skins in the first quarter. The Dolphins struck early, with David Woodley hitting Jimmy Cefalo on a sideline pattern that Cefalo turned into a 76-yard touchdown just 6:49 into the game.

Trading Field Goals

Trailing 7-0 at the end of the first quarter, the Redskins got on the board just 21 seconds into the second quarter when Mark Moseley connected on a 31-yard field goal. Dolphins place kicker Uwe von Schamann matched Moseley 9 minutes in with a 20-yard kick of his own.

Striking Back

The Redskins’ struck next, when Theismann hit wide receiver Alvin Garrett with a 4-yard strike just over 4 minutes later. The touchdown pass culminated a 10-play drive that included a 12-yard scramble by Theismann. Moseley tacked on the extra point, knotting the score up at 10-10, at least for the next 13 seconds.

Disaster Strikes

On the ensuing kickoff, backup cornerback Fulton Walker took the ball on the Miami 2-yard line, and returned it a Super Bowl record 98 yards for a touchdown. Von Schumann converted the point after, to put the Dolphins on top, 17-10.

Wasted Opportunity

The Redskins got the ball back, and made an impressive drive downfield, but stalled with 14 seconds left, as Theismann hit Garrett in the flat, but the wide receiver was unable to get out of bounds to stop the clock.

Inching Back

With 8:09 left in the third quarter, Mark Moseley connected on a 20-yard field goal to start the scoring in the second half and pull the Redskins within 4 at 17-13. The Redskins called a reverse to Alvin Garrett, which he turned into a 44-yard scamper to set up the kick.

The next scoring play, would become the most memorable play in franchise history.

It was fourth and one on the Miami 43 yard line; the call was, “Goal line, goal line. I-left, tight wing, 70 chip on white”.

70 Chip

Riggins 70 Chip SB XVII

Quarterback Joe Theismann took the snap, turned and handed the ball to John Riggins. The H-back Otis Wonsley and guards Joe Jacoby and Russ Grimm opened a huge hole on the left side of the line, and the Diesel never looked back.

Riggins hit the hole and took off down the field, shrugging off Dolphins’ cornerback Ron McNeal in an image ingrained in the psyche of Redskin fans everywhere.

With 10:10 left in the game, the Redskins took the lead for the first time, and were on their way to the first NFL championship for the Washington Redskins since 1942.

Cherry On Top

The Redskins finished the scoring with a 6-yard pass to Charlie Brown late in the fourth quarter and an extra point by Mark Moseley, bringing us to the final score of Super Bowl XVII, 27-17.

How About That Defense?

The Redskins defense poured on the heat all afternoon. They decimated the Dolphins running game, and took David Woodley out of his game with complicated schemes and blitzes. Woodley completed only 4 passes on 14 attempts on the day, including a paltry 0 for 8 mark in the second half, before being replaced by backup quarterback Don Strock, who went 0 for 3.

The Hogs

On the other side of the ball, The Hogs battered the Dolphin’s Killer B’s defense all day, allowing Riggins to often go 3 yards on any given play before being touched by a defender. In four playoff games, they paved the way for Riggins to amass an incredible 610 yards en route to the franchise’s first Super Bowl.


The touchdown run accounted for 43 of Riggins’ then Super Bowl record 166 yards rushing on 38 carries, and garnered him the title of Super Bowl XVII MVP. It would eventually just be referred to as Riggo’s Run. The Diesel also had 15 yards receiving to give him 181 all purpose yards – five yards more than the entire Miami offense (176 yards).

The Redskins won their first Super Bowl and began their 12-year run known to Redskin fans worldwide as “The Glory Days”.

For Coach Gibbs, it was his first Lombardi Trophy.

But it wouldn’t be his last.

Cooke, Riggins and Gibbs


Fan Reactions

Scott Hurrey – “I was 6 years old in 1982, and John Riggins’ 43-yard touchdown on fourth and one is my first vivid Redskins memory. To this day, when I think Redskins, I think 70 chip.”

Scott Peek – “I watched the game from my Animal House college dwelling and my buddies and I just about raised the roof when Riggins made his infamous run. Luckily my duplex neighbors were about 80 and deaf. This was sweet revenge against the team that so cruelly beat us in SB VII. I still haven’t gotten over that one!


Did You Know?

Miami backup CB Fulton Walker’s 98-yard kickoff retrun for a TD was not only the longest, but the first return TD in Super Bowl history.

Joe Gibbs’ ball control offense posted some impressive possession statistics in XVII. The Redskins had the ball for 36:15 compared to Miami’s 23:45, a difference of 12:30 or nearly an entire quarter! They were an incredible 11 of 18 (61%) on third down opportunities because of the ability of the Hogs to dominate the line of scrimmage.

The 1982 NFL season featured a 57-day Players union strike, that ultimately shortened the season to nine games. The strike started after the second game of the season, and there were no games weeks three through ten.

Due to the shortened season, the NFL adopted a special 16-team playoff tournament. Eight teams from each conference were seeded, based on their records. This was the first time in NFL history that a team made the playoffs with a losing record – two teams in fact – the Browns and the Lions.

More Information

SB XVII Team Statistics

Photo Credits:

John Riggins – Photo credits unknown
Cooke / Gibbs / Riggins – The Associated Press (AP Photo) ORG XMIT: NY52


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