"It was awesome. It was awesome exactly the way the word was meant to be used," running back John Riggins said. "It was 100 percent pure exhilaration."
It's the staple memory for Redskins fans, part of the championship canon that solidified so many people's fandom. And now, in wake of Super Bowl week, the NFL has ranked his iconic 4th-and-1 run as the seventh best Super Bowl performance of all-time.
And let's be clear, this isn't an award for a moment. Besides his 43-yard scamper into the end zone, Riggins collected 166 yards rushing on 38 carries, wearing down the Miami Dolphins. He also caught a pass for 15 yards.
"We're not going to get impatient, we're going to win the football game by running," Joe Gibbs said before the game. And they followed through.
Back to that 4th-and-1.
Riggins set the stage: "We all know what's going to happen, the inevitable is this. I'm going to get the football. And I'm either going to go this way, or I'm going to go that way."
The play:"70 Chip"
The goal:To get Riggins in a one-on-one situation -- mano e mano -- with a defensive back.
The result:Poor Don McNeal was steamrolled.
Before the snap, tight end Clint Didier went in motion from the left side of the formation, then circled back. With a gliding start, he blocked the linebacker on the edge while mammoth left tackle Joe Jacoby blocked down on the defensive end. Riggins took the handoff and hit the hole off-tackle with a head of steam. A few yards past the line of scrimmage, McNeal met Riggins straight up ... before getting straight run over. Think Ricardo Montalban in "The Naked Gun". Post-collision, Riggins dashed to pay dirt like the high-school sprint champion he'd been back in Kansas.
"I'm a running back, I didn't know what was going to happen on Sunday, and I love improve," Riggins said. "You snap the ball, you give it to me, you guys do whatever you've got to do, I'll figure it out."
He surely did.
Oh, and here's this tidbit from when I caught up with Riggins a year ago at the Redskins team store as he was singing autographs for fans who kept thanking him for that run.
"Some of [people's] greatest moments are wrapped around their football team. To be a part of that is pretty special," Riggins said. "You get to meet a lot of interesting people so that's what makes it kind of fun and seeing how you've impacted a lot of lives. I never think of it that way, but the truth of the matter is, it does happen."