Super Bowl XXII
Redskins 42, Broncos 10
Jack Murphy Stadium
Sunday, Jan. 31, 1988
Doug Williams doesn't reminisce very often, but every now and again his thoughts return to Super Bowl XXII, when the Redskins quarterback reached for perfection--and found it in one glorious quarter.
"We scored 35 points in 18 plays--that's execution at its very best," Williams said, still marveling years later at the second-quarter dominance in the Redskins' 42-10 Super Bowl triumph over the Denver Broncos. "Offensively, we were in a zone. It didn't matter who we were playing, they weren't going to stop us."
It didn't start out that way, though. On Denver 's first play from scrimmage, Broncos quarterback John Elway connected with wide receiver Ricky Nattiel on a 56-yard touchdown pass. Later, Rich Karlis added a 24-yard field goal and just like that, the Broncos led 10-0.
Late in the first quarter, Williams suffered a "hyper-flexed" left knee while setting up in the pocket. He limped off the field and backup Jay Schroeder came in for two uneventful plays.
Williams took back the reins at the start of the second quarter--and the fireworks began. On play action, he threw an 80-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Sanders, who caught the ball around midfield and outraced cornerback Mark Haynes into the end zone. Four minutes later, Williams connected with Gary Clark on 27-yard scoring strike.
On the Redskins' next possession, rookie running back Timmy Smith broke free down the right sideline a 58-yard touchdown run. A few minutes later, Williams found Sanders again, this time on a 50-yard bomb. He closed the quarter with an 8-yard touchdown pass to tight end Clint Didier.
It was a breathtaking display. Overall, Williams completed 18-of-29 passes for 340 yards and those four second-quarter touchdowns. Smith closed out the scoring with a 4-yard run in the fourth quarter, but Williams--the first African-American quarterback to start a Super Bowl--was the obvious choice for most valuable player.
The rest of the offense seemed to feed off of Williams' remarkable precision, as the unit compiled 602 total yards to go along with the six touchdowns. Smith stunned everybody by rushing for a Super Bowl record 204 yards on 22 carries. Sanders finished the game with nine catches for 193 yards.
Defensively, the Redskins pressured Elway repeatedly, with safety Alvin Walton leading the way with two of the team's five sacks. Barry Wilburn had two of the Redskins' three interceptions; Brian Davis had the other.
But the spotlight was brightest on Williams.
Said head coach Joe Gibbs: "Doug wound up being the right man in the right place. You have a guy who played great when he first came out of college, went to the USFL, turned around and became a backup, then comes all the way back and is MVP in the Super Bowl. That's one of the great stories in sports history."