Redskins 37, Bills 24
Sunday, Jan. 26, 1992
In 1991, Washington fielded one of the most dominant teams ever in the NFL–and perhaps the greatest all-around season in franchise history. The Redskins were a hard-nosed, determined group that year, starting the season with an 11-0 record. They finished 14-2 and then devoured Atlanta and Detroit by a combined score of 65-17 in their first two post-season contests.
Going into Super Bowl XXVI, the Redskins were well-prepared for the Buffalo Bills; the team had an intense, hard-hitting week of practice leading up to the game. The Bills were 13-3 in the regular season and had the NFL's most explosive offense, a group that featured running back Thurman Thomas.
Even though the first quarter of Super Bowl XXVI was scoreless, the Redskins' offense had two scoring opportunities deep in Buffalo 's territory. Holder Jeff Rutledge botched the snap on a Chip Lohmiller field goal and quarterback Mark Rypien threw a rare interception, ending two drives.
The offense started clicking on full cylinders in the second quarter, roaring out to a 17-0 lead on a Lohmiller 34-yard field goal, a 10-yard touchdown pass from Rypien to Earnest Byner and a 1-yard TD plunge by Gerald Riggs.
Just 16 seconds into the third quarter, the lead was 24-0. On Buffalo's first offensive play of the second half, the Redskins sent linebacker Andre Collins on a disguised blitz, confusing Bills quarterback Jim Kelly. He floated a pass right to linebacker Kurt Gouveia, who returned it 23 yards to the Buffalo 2. One play later, Riggs crossed the goal line to increase the Redskins' lead.
The Bills closed the gap to 24-10 later in the third quarter, but Rypien struck again with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Gary Clark, the ball landing softly in his outstretched hands, giving the Redskins an insurmountable 31-10 advantage heading into the final quarter. Rypien finished the game 18-of-33 for 292 yards, two touchdowns and a Super Bowl MVP award.
Both Clark and Art Monk proved too much for the Bills' secondary, as both put up nearly identical numbers. (Clark had seven catches for 114 yards, Monk had seven catches for 113 yards.)
Offensive fireworks aside, the Redskins' aggressive defense was simply magnificent, limiting the prolific Thomas to just 13 yards on 10 carries and pressuring Kelly into mistake after mistake.
Kelly was unable to adjust to Washington's seemingly endless blitzes, which were designed to help counter the Bills' no-huddle offense. Kelly was sacked five times.
Washington had feasted all season on opponents' mistakes and turned Kelly's four interceptions and fumble into 20 points. Free safety Brad Edwards had two of the four picks, while Darrell Green and Gouveia had the others.
Linebacker Wilber Marshall led the way, tallying a game-high 11 tackles, one sack and two forced fumbles. Defensive end Fred Stokes had six tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. Backup defensive lineman Jumpy Geathers added three tackles and a sack.
For head coach Joe Gibbs, it was his third NFL championship in 10 seasons as Redskins head coach.
"I've never enjoyed coaching a team more," Gibbs said. "It's been a fun ride for me since training camp. They all like each other, and the chemistry has been terrific. I've kind of gone along for the trip with them. We know we aren't a great team and that we have to play hard and together to win. And that's what we did."