40 years ago, the 1982 Washington Redskins became the first team in franchise history to win a Super Bowl.
This 2022 season, Commanders Wire has published several stories recalling that great season. Now that the NFL playoffs begin this week, we recall the first round of that 1982 playoff journey for Washington.
The 1982 season, being shortened by a player’s strike, NFL teams played a nine-game schedule. Washington finished 8-1, obtaining the number one seed for the NFC playoffs.
The playoff birth was the first for Washington since the 1976 team coached by George Allen. Having earned the home-field advantage, Washington would host the Detroit Lions in the wildcard round.
Unfortunately, in the final regular season game, Art Monk suffered a stress fracture of his right foot and would miss the playoffs. John Riggins went to offensive line coach Joe Bugel and told him he would take on more of the load; he wanted the ball. Bugel told him to go see the man (Joe Gibbs).
Riggins was now age 33 and had averaged only 3.1 yards per rush. Yet, Joe Washington was beat up, and Art Monk was out injured. So Gibbs called on Riggins to take on more for the team, and he did, with 25 carries for 119 yards.
Detroit threatening to score in the first quarter, corner Jeris White ignited the team and RFK crowd when he picked off an Eric Hipple pass at the 23, returning it 77 yards for a Washington 7-0 lead.
Alvin Garrett might have been a little-used backup to Monk, but Joe Theismann certainly believed in Garrett. Remarkably, Theismann and Garrett connected on six receptions for 110 yards and three touchdowns. Theismann was quite efficient, completing 14 of 19 passing attempts for 210 yards, 3 touchdowns, and no interceptions for a passer rating of 149.1.
Washington jumped on the Lions on both sides of the ball and enjoyed a 24-0 halftime lead and a 31-0 third-quarter lead, winning 31-7. Dexter Manley, Monte Coleman, Vernon Dean and Mark Murphy each earned a quarterback sack and White finished with two interceptions.
It was the first playoff victory since the 1972 team had won the NFC Championship against Dallas 26-3 at RFK.