This weekend, the NFL Divisional Playoff round will be played.
40 years ago, the 1982 Washington Redskins became the first team in franchise history to win a Super Bowl. How did that team fare in the divisional round?
After defeating the Lions 31-7 in the Wild-card round, the Minnesota Vikings came to RFK for a Saturday 12:30 pm start on January 15, 1983.
The “Hogs” were catching on around the league to some degree and the Vikings hearing of it during the week, volleyed back to the DMV that they were going to butcher the “Hogs.” Joe Theismann later expressed, “That’s the worst thing they could have done.”
The Hogs offensive line was motivated, and 33-year-old John Riggins was motivated to play in his first Super Bowl. Riggins carried 37 times for 185 yards, a new Redskins playoff record.
As the clock reached the final minute, the game clinched, Washington leading Minnesota 21-7, John Riggins was being substituted with Wilber Jackson. As Riggins went toward the sideline, the RFK faithful cheered, thanking Riggins.
Can you imagine Joe Gibbs surprise when Riggins suddenly stopped, removed his helmet, took a bow to both sides of the crowd in the stadium, waved his left arm in thanks and headed to the sideline with his helmet in his right hand? Then the volume sharply increased for Riggins.
Some fans had already been chanting the last couple of minutes, “We want Dallas”. Now the numbers grew until virtually the entire stadium had joined in the refrain, “We want Dallas”. This was significant, because it set the stage for the entire week being “Dallas Week”. The chant would begin the next week BEFORE the championship game against the Cowboys began.
Washington had jumped on the Vikings early with a Theismann touchdown pass to Don Warren from three yards and a Riggins run from two yards for an opening quarter 14-0 lead.
Ted Brown narrowed the Redskins lead to 14-7 with an 18-yard run, but the Washington offense responded with a Theismann 18-yard pass to Charley Brown for a halftime 21-7 margin. In the first half, Washington had controlled the line of scrimmage, possessing the ball 18:47 to only 11:13 for Minnesota, and out-gained the Vikings 280 to 147.