By Ronald Guy
Admit it, you were surprised not to find Riggins’ run here. Remember, this list compiles the greatest plays in Redskins Super Bowl history, not the most famous. And a play Joe Theismann made earlier in Super Bowl XVII rescued Riggins’ moment from the grips of history’s Grim Reaper.
In the third quarter, with the Redskins trailing 17-13, Theismann dropped back to pass from deep in ‘Skins territory. The play was designed to go to the right, but seeing his receiver covered, Theismann turn back to his left and into heavy pressure. As he let a desperate pass go, the ball was deflected by Miami DE Kim Bokamper and shot way up into the air. As the ball softly descended from its wobbly peak, Bokamper was running right under it just strides from the goal line. If he secured the interception, there was nothing between him and a convincing lead for Miami and their “Killer Bs” defense. Just as the ball was about to settle into Bokamper’s waiting hands, Theismann lunged and, while fully vertical with the turf, batted the ball away. Pass … incomplete; crisis … averted.
In those split seconds that Theismann’s diverted pass fluttered in the air, the outcome of Super Bowl XVII likely hung in the balance. Such moments seem to last forever for anyone with a vested interest in either team. With every awkward rotation of the ball, you knew something memorable, one way or the other, was about to happen. If Bokamper catches that ball and scores, Miami likely wins the game and Bokamper very well may have been the MVP. Instead, Theismann’s heads up and incredibly athletic play — the other two QBs Joe Gibbs won Super Bowl’s with wouldn’t have gotten to the ball — enabled Riggins’ run and the ‘Skins securing their first Lombardi Trophy.
Following history’s trail a bit further, if Theismann freezes in that moment, even for an instant, do the ‘Skins go on to win two more Super Bowls? Do we even know who The Hogs are? Does Art Monk, Darrell Green or Russ Grimm make the Hall of Fame? Does Joe Gibbs? Ahhh, I’m getting ahead of myself. Or am I?