’91 REDSKINS, ’84 BEARS
THE TWO BEST SUPER BOWL CHAMPS WIN FOR THE LAST TIME
In 2012, the Bleacher Report ranked the Greatest Super Bowl teams ever with the 1991 Washington Redskins ranking #1 and the 1985 Chicago Bears at #2.
- Both were dominant from start to finish of the season
(the Redskins started 11-0 and the Bears 12-0)
- Both won decisive Super Bowl victories and both teams won on this day; and
- Neither have won a Super Bowl since
(The Bears at least made one return trip to the Super Bowl,
while the Redskins have had only 5 playoff years since then).
I have to agree with the Bleacher Report. Both teams had great defenses (although the Bears may have had one of the best defenses of all time), but the Redskins also had one of the most explosive offensive machines.
It was a fun season to watch. I will always remember Week 10 against the Houston Oilers (7-1) in what was billed as a Super Bowl preview. The Oilers tied the game with 1:42 left and then recovered Brian Mitchell’s fumble of the kickoff return at the 23 yard. I was driving when Ian Howfield lined up to kick a 33-yard field goal for when and then heard Sonny Jurgenson exclaim “God must have the Redskins in the pool this week” as the kick was wide. I got home in time to see the Redskins win in overtime and remain unbeaten.
This team was the culmination of Joe Gibbs masterwork.
The Redskins of 20 years ago aren’t usually regarded as the best team of the Super Bowl era, and part of that is because of the quarterback, Mark Rypien. Though Rypien had a mostly pedestrian career, he did have a truly great season in 1991, and the numbers prove that. Rypien, an excellent deep passer, threw for 28 touchdowns, second in the NFL.
Rypien was second in passer rating, and he threw 14 TDs of 25 yards or more, most in the NFL. Rypien led the NFL in yards per pass-completion, ahead of Hall of Famers Steve Young, Jim Kelly, John Elway, Dan Marino and Warren Moon. Plus, Rypien’s 28 TDs were nearly twice as many as Bears quarterback Jim McMahon’s greatest single-season output of 15.
Washington had a strong running attack with Earnest Byner, Ricky Ervins and Gerald Riggs combining for nearly 2,000 yards and 19 touchdowns. Byner was the workhorse, Ervins provided elusiveness, and Riggs served as the short yardage back. Incredibly, the posse, Hall of Famer Art Monk, Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders, combined for more than 3,000 yards receiving.
Most impressively, the 1991 version of the Hogs allowed Rypien to be sacked only nine times all season. The feat is even more remarkable because Rypien was anything but a mobile quarterback. The Hogs’ only Hall of Famer, left guard Russ Grimm, was a backup to Raleigh McKenzie that season. The two best linemen on the team were tackles Jim Lachey and Joe Jacoby. Brian Mitchell ran back two punts for touchdowns to lead Washington’s excellent special teams, and kicker Chip Lohmiller made the Pro Bowl.
The 1991 Redskins led the league in points and were second in points allowed. Washington sacked quarterbacks 50 times, dominating both lines of scrimmage. Defensive end Charles Mann, linebackers Wilber Marshall and Andre Collins and Hall of Fame cornerback Darrell Green led a Redskins defense that held opponents to 14 points per game and shut out three opponents. . . ..
In the Super Bowl, Washington dominated Buffalo, 37-24, but it wasn’t that close. Washington led 24-0 in the third quarter. It was the Bills’ second of four consecutive Super Bowls, and Buffalo featured Hall of Famers Kelly, Thurman Thomas, James Lofton and Bruce Smith. The Redskins held Thomas, the NFL MVP, to 13 yards on 10 carries. The Redskins never trailed in any of their playoff games.
|TOT YDS & TO||PASSING||RUSHING|
|Lg Rank Offense||1||4||3||4||9||26||5||2||3||1||1||7||1||18|
|Lg Rank Defense||2||3||3||14||3||27||9||5||2||2||2||3||12||11|
SEASON and PLAYOFF RUN
|1||September 1||W||1-0||Detroit Lions||45||0|
|2||September 9||W||2-0||@||Dallas Cowboys||33||31|
|3||September 15||W||3-0||Phoenix Cardinals||34||0|
|4||September 22||W||4-0||@||Cincinnati Bengals||34||27|
|5||September 30||W||5-0||Philadelphia Eagles||23||0|
|6||October 6||W||6-0||@||Chicago Bears||20||7|
|7||October 13||W||7-0||Cleveland Browns||42||17|
|9||October 27||W||8-0||@||New York Giants||17||13|
|10||November 3||W||OT||9-0||Houston Oilers||16||13|
|11||November 10||W||10-0||Atlanta Falcons||56||17|
|12||November 17||W||11-0||@||Pittsburgh Steelers||41||14|
|13||November 24||L||11-1||Dallas Cowboys||21||24|
|14||December 1||W||12-1||@||Los Angeles Rams||27||6|
|15||December 8||W||13-1||@||Phoenix Cardinals||20||14|
|16||December 15||W||14-1||New York Giants||34||17|
|17||December 22||L||14-2||@||Philadelphia Eagles||22||24|
|Division||January 4||W||15-2||Atlanta Falcons||24||7|
|ConfChamp||January 12||W||16-2||Detroit Lions||41||10|
|SuperBowl||January 26||W||17-2||N||Buffalo Bills||37||24|
If there’s one other team that can stake a claim to the number one spot, it’s the 1985 Chicago Bears. They finished 18-1, may have had the best defense of all time and outscored playoff opponents 91-10. Ryan’s swarming “46” defense had 64 sacks and held opponents to 12.4 points per game.
The Bears had two regular season shutouts and two playoff shutouts, defeating the Giants 21-0 and the Rams 24-0 before thrashing the Patriots, 46-10. The 1985 Bears had four players named to the Hall of Fame, including running back Walter Payton, defensive linemen Richard Dent and Dan Hampton and linebacker Mike Singletary. The Bears also featured nine Pro Bowlers, five on defense.
While the Bears finished 15-1, the teams they faced had a combined winning percentage of .473. No other teams in the NFC Central Division finished above .500. Also, although the Bears routed the Patriots in the Super Bowl, New England was a non-descript team that finished 11-5 in the regular season. Patriots quarterback Tony Eason threw more interceptions than touchdowns during the regular season – 17 to 11.
|TOT YDS & TO||PASSING||RUSHING|
|Lg Rank Offense||2||7||4||9||6||26||20||22||6||4||1||1||1||5|
|Lg Rank Defense||1||1||1||5||1||18||3||3||1||2||1||1||1||6|
SEASON and PLAYOFF RUN
|1||September 8||W||1-0||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||38||28|
|2||September 15||W||2-0||New England Patriots||20||7|
|3||September 19||W||3-0||@||Minnesota Vikings||33||24|
|4||September 29||W||4-0||Washington Redskins||45||10|
|5||October 6||W||5-0||@||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||27||19|
|6||October 13||W||6-0||@||San Francisco 49ers||26||10|
|7||October 21||W||7-0||Green Bay Packers||23||7|
|8||October 27||W||8-0||Minnesota Vikings||27||9|
|9||November 3||W||9-0||@||Green Bay Packers||16||10|
|10||November 10||W||10-0||Detroit Lions||24||3|
|11||November 17||W||11-0||@||Dallas Cowboys||44||0|
|12||November 24||W||12-0||Atlanta Falcons||36||0|
|13||December 2||L||12-1||@||Miami Dolphins||24||38|
|14||December 8||W||13-1||Indianapolis Colts||17||10|
|15||December 14||W||14-1||@||New York Jets||19||6|
|16||December 22||W||15-1||@||Detroit Lions||37||17|
|Division||January 5||W||16-1||New York Giants||21||0|
|ConfChamp||January 12||W||17-1||Los Angeles Rams||24||0|
|SuperBowl||January 26||W||18-1||N||New England Patriots||46||10|
AND THE REST
Bleacher Report rounds out the top 5 with the 1972 Dolphins, the 1989 San Francisco 49ers and the 1978 Pittsburgh Steelers and concludes:
But the dominance the 1991 Redskins and 1985 Bears displayed came in an era of more parity than there had been in the 1970s, when the haves and have-nots were more distinguishable. What the Redskins and Bears did by defeating their opponents by an average of 16 points a game was spectacular. The Redskins get the slight edge because of their balanced offense, which included a deep passing game that the Bears could not match.