What are the best moments for each NFL franchise? Yahoo Sports provides our opinion, which you are free to disagree with (and we’re sure you will).
5. Hiring Joe Gibbs
In 1981, the Redskins were coming off a 6-10 season, their worst in 17 years, and Jack Kent Cook had a decision to make. His general manager, Bobby Beathard, and head coach, Jack Pardee, had differing views on where the franchise should go in the immediate future. Beathard wanted youth, Pardee experience, and Cook sided with Beathard, firing Pardee, who only a year earlier had been NFC Coach of the Year. The question then became where to go next. Beathard landed on a 40-year-old career assistant from San Diego, Joe Gibbs. To that point Gibbs had never been a head coach, but Beathard believed Gibbs’ calling plays for the “Air Coryell” system, coupled with his leadership qualities were exactly what Washington needed. Cook signed off on the hire, and in just his second season Gibbs directed the Redskins to their first of three Super Bowl victories.
4. Darrell Green’s ribcage-tearing punt return
There are a lot of great Darrell Green moments – he’s up there with the best corners ever – but a few stand out as truly iconic. His punt return for a touchdown against the Chicago Bears in the opening round of the 1997 postseason qualifies as one. It gave the Redskins, who had fallen behind 14-0 early, a 21-14 lead. Maneuvering his way up the sideline, Green’s awkward landing after a hurdle over Cap Boso would tear his rib cage, but it wouldn’t stop him. Clutching the right side of his midsection with his left arm, Green raced into the end zone, the first step toward the Redskins barreling toward that year’s Super Bowl championship.
3. Darryl Grant’s pick-six
Dexter Manley was unfair – a combination of size, speed, strength and athleticism that belongs to almost all dominant linemen in today’s NFL. But this wasn’t today’s NFL. This was 1983, in the NFC Championship game against the hated Dallas Cowboys. Manley beat his man to the outside and jumped out of his shoes to get his fingertips on Gary Hogeboom’s pass. Seconds later all 270 pounds of Darryl Grant was rumbling in the end zone with the interception, the stands at RFK vibrating – seemingly on the edge of collapsing as they so often were – but no one wearing burgundy and gold seeming to care. The stadium swayed and the fans sung. Washington had extended its lead to 31-17 with just minutes left in the fourth, ending any chance of a late Dallas comeback. The Redskins were going to their second Super Bowl, and the stage was set for an even more memorable moment.
2. The second quarter of Super Bowl XXII
To say Super Bowl XXII “wasn’t looking good” for the Redskins was a massive understatement. The Broncos had scored on their first play from scrimmage. Doug Williams was out following an awkward landing on a sack. Washington was down 10-0, and no team had overcome a deficit that large in Super Bowl history. Then came an offensive explosion unlike any other. Williams hit Ricky Sanders for an 80-yard score on the first play of the second quarter. He found Gary Clark for a 27-yard score on the next drive. Timmy Smith chugged in another TD from 58. Williams to Sanders again, this time from 50 yards. Williams to Clint Didier finished things off. Fifteen minutes doesn’t really count as a “moment,” but when a team scores 35 points and gains 356 yards in those 15 minutes – both Super Bowl records – there’s an exception to be made.
There’s no single play that defines a player’s career like John Riggins’ run on fourth-and-1 against the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII. The Hogs, led by massive left tackle Joe Jacoby, did their job. The line gave Riggins one man to run over. And he did just that, shrugging off Don McNeal as if he were a bug on a windshield. It gave the Redskins a 20-17 advantage – their first lead of the game and one they wouldn’t relinquish. Riggins finished with 38 carries for 166 and the iconic touchdown. They didn’t call him “The Diesel” for nothing.