In today's Rewarding Moments In Washington History presented by Maryland Lottery My Lottery Rewards, we look back to January 22, 1983 when Washington defeated the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Championship to advance to its second Super Bowl.
Following a 57-day strike and reduced season in 1982, NFC East rivals Washington and Dallas squared off in the NFC Championship game.
In front of a packed RFK Stadium, Washington was ready to repeat history 10 years later, this time under the helm of Joe Gibbs.
Dallas opened the game by taking a three-point lead with a 27-yard field goal, but Washington quickly responded by driving 84 yards on nine plays and capping off the scoring drive with a 19-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Joe Theismann to wide receiver Charlie Brown.
After a missed field goal from Washington kicker Mark Moseley from 27 yards out, the Cowboys committed their first mistake of the game when rookie Rod Hill muffed a punt. Washington linebacker Monte Coleman recovered at the 10-yard line, and four plays later legendary running back John Riggins dove into the end zone to give Washington a 14-3 lead heading into halftime.
Immediately after Dallas cut the deficit to 14-10, "the key play of the game," happened, according to Gibbs. Mike Nelms was back deep to receive the kick, and once the ball was in his hands, he was off to the races to the Cowboys' 21-yard line. Four plays later, Riggins barreled into the end zone to put Washington back up by 11.
As the game entered the fourth quarter, Washington held a slight 21-17 lead before Moseley made a 29-yard field goal. And moments later, Washington sealed the victory when Dexter Manley tipped quarterback Gary Hogeboom's pass, which was then intercepted by defensive tackle Darryl Grant and returned 10 yards for a touchdown.
A decade after beating the Cowboys to make their first Super Bowl, Washington had done it again by way of a 31-17 triumph. The fans rejoiced as the players carried Gibbs off the field and towards what would be one of three Super Bowl championships.