When I arrived in Washington in 1981, Joe Gibbs was a rookie coach and the Redskins were trapped in mediocrity having missed the playoffs for 4 consecutive years. Gibbs lost 6 of his first 7 games, but the team rallied to an 8-8 record.
The next season was cut short by a strike. The Redskins finished 8-1, with Mark Mosley setting a NFL record of 21 consecutive field goals. His record setting kick clinched the playoff spot for the Skins and made him the first kicker to win the MVP award.
The Redkins crushed Detroit and Minnesota in the playoffs to earn the right to host the hated Dallas Cowboys at RFK Stadium. The Cowboys had beaten the Redskins handily at RFK earlier in the season for their only loss.
The week of the big game, Washington was in a frenzy. There was a pep rally downtown the Friday before the game and in clubs people sang along to the Clash’s “Rock the Casbah” but instead sang “F— the Cowboys.”
The Redskin offense was led by John Riggins rushing attack, but it would be Defensive End Dexter Manley (the “Secretary of Defense”) who would shine on defense. He crushed Dallas QB Danny White, knocking him out of the game, a move that fired up the entire city and the team. It remains one of the greatest defensive moments in Redskin history. He then tipped a Dallas pass in the fourth quarter that led to an interception returned for a touchdown that clinched a 31-17 Redskin win.
In the Super Bowl, the Redskins faced the Miami Dolphins who beat them in Washington’s only other Super Bowl appearance – Super Bowl VII. Super Bowl 17 was a different story. it was John Riggins moment to shine, turning a 4th down and 1 on the 43 yard line to Super Bowl immortality as he set a Super Bowl rushing record.
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