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Rewarding Moments In Redskins History: Riggins Powers Through Dolphins En Route To Super Bowl XVII Title


In today's Rewarding Moments In Redskins History presented by Maryland Lottery My Lottery Rewards, we look back tothe Redskins resounding 27-17 victory over the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII on Jan. 30, 1983.

In a game predicted to be a battle in the trenches, Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs approached the matchup with additional tricks in his playbook. The Redskins, who touted two of the leagues most explosive offensive weapons in quarterback Joe Theismann and halfback John Riggins, went deep into the playbook to disguise their game plan, as Gibbs employed three reverses, including a "flea flicker" that saw Riggins take the handoff, then pitch it back to Theismann who targeted a downfield receiver.

"I told my players that this game will be won by John [Riggins]," Gibbs said. "But all the things that go with it -- the flea-flicker, the reverse -- all those will help John. We've got to keep them off him.''

None of the plays resulted in a touchdown, but the trickery kept the Dolphins defense guessing and helped set up arguably the most memorable moment in Redskins history.

With about 10 minutes remaining and the Redskins trailing, 17-13, Riggins took the hand-off on a misdirection play on 4th-and-inches. Dolphins defensive back Don McNeal bit on the fake and had to adjust in an effort to tackle the 235-pound Riggins, but "The Diesel" stiff-armed McNeal and continued down the field for a 43-yard touchdown.

Coming off an AFC championship game that saw the Don Schula-led Dolphins hold the New York Jets to 139 yards of total offense, Riggins rushed for 166 of the Redskins' 276 yards during the game en route to earning Super Bowl MVP.

"They were pushing us all over the field and there was nothing we could do about it," said Miami defensive coordinator Bill Arnspager. In a battle of the trenches, the victory served as Washington's first-ever Super Bowl title and the first of Gibbs' three championships during his tenure in Washington D.C.

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