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No Rush to Break This Super Bowl Record


On the most famous play in Redskins history, John Riggins barreled his way through, around and past Don McNeal of the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII.

It was the key play of the Redskins' 27-17 Super Bowl win and set up parades all over the Washington, D.C., area.

And yet, something else really stands out about Riggins' effort versus Miami that day in the Rose Bowl: He carried the ball 38 times.

The NFL's Record & Fact Book includes 13 pages of Super Bowl records. That standard set by Riggins 23 yards ago looks about as safe as any.

The closest rivals for Riggins in Super Bowl history?

Franco Harris had 34 carries for the Steelers in Super Bowl IX versus Minnesota, a 16-6 Pittsburgh win. Larry Csonka carried 33 times for the Dolphins in Super Bowl VII against the same Vikings to carry Miami 24-7.

Many Super Bowl records seem as though they're just sitting there and waiting to be re-written. Others appear to be safe and secure for the foreseeable future.

Riggins' 38 carries fall into the latter department.

"I was just a foot soldier waiting for my next command," Riggins once said of his yeoman performance in the 1982 postseason.

His Super Bowl record 166 yards lasted just one year.

Marcus Allen of the Raiders broke it with a 191-yard day in Super Bowl XVIII, the 38-9 win for Los Angeles over the Redskins.

And then Timmy Smith of the Redskins went even farther, for 204 yards, in the 42-10 trouncing of Denver in Super Bowl XXII.

Allen had 20 carries in his spectacular Super Bowl, Smith 22. They weren't even close to Riggins and his 38 attempts.

It stands to reason that Riggins and his Super Bowl record 38 carries will survive many more Super Bowls.

Those images of the 6-2, 240-pound Riggins keeping McNeal at bay seem to be headed for an extremely long shelf life.

With 10 minutes left in Super Bowl XVII on Jan. 30, 1983, the Redskins' superstar ran 43 yards for a touchdown on 4th and one to erase a 17-13 Miami lead.

The Redskins went on to win 27-17, wrapping up an NFL title that the Nation's Capital had been awaiting for 40 years.

Riggins' 43-yard touchdown run in that Super Bowl has become the thing of legend. It basically has dwarfed another superlative effort, those record 38 carries with so much on the line.

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